About M. Roy Wilson

Dr. M. Roy Wilson became the 12th president of Wayne State University on August 1, 2013. Since assuming leadership, President Wilson has pursued his vision to transform the university into the preeminent, public, urban research university known for academic and research excellence.

Highlights of his tenure:

Student Success and Enrollment

In Fall 2020, Wayne State admitted its largest incoming class ever, a 4 percent increase over the prior year.

Wayne State achieved the nation's most-improved graduation rate—a 21-point improvement—from 2012 to 2018.  This improvement earned the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities' 2018 Degree Completion Award, which recognizes innovative and successful approaches to improve degree completion and ensure educational quality. Gains were especially pronounced among first-generation, low-income and minority students.


As part of a plan to increase the diversity of Wayne State's campus, President Wilson created the position of Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer in 2014.

He also created the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement to provide an inclusive environment and promote awareness initiatives that encourage academic success for underrepresented minorities and historically marginalized students.

As a result of efforts to promote the recruitment and retention of those who exemplify our global community and create the best urban clinical experience, the School of Medicine saw a tenfold increase in the number of traditionally underrepresented students from 2014 to 2020. 

Research and Public Health

President Wilson has realigned the university's numerous research divisions to emphasize team science and cluster hiring of scientists. This effort was reflected in the $90 million IBio multidisciplinary research facility, which opened in 2015.

The university's extramural research funding awards doubled to more than $320 million from FY13 to FY21 as the institution reinvigorated its research activities. 

President Wilson also developed a strategy to improve the pipeline of underrepresented students trained in the biomedical sciences. As part of this strategy, he formed a coalition of Detroit-based universities and colleges to launch the NIH-funded Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Program at the university in 2015. He also launched the Wayne Med-Direct program—which guarantees exceptionally talented high school students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds admission to Wayne State's medical school—to develop the next generation of physician leaders.


Wayne State marked the successful conclusion of its Pivotal Moments campaign in late 2019, which raised $776.5 million, significantly surpassing its $750 million goal. This included several large, record-setting gifts and much support from Wayne State employees, alumni, and friends.

Campus Improvements

The university established a partnership with the Detroit Pistons to construct a new $25 million arena for Wayne State's men's and women's basketball teams, which opened in fall 2021. The arena also serves as the home of the new NBA G League affiliate in Detroit.

Campus beautification efforts have included the $26.5 million renovation of the Student Center Building and the redesigned green space surrounding Fountain Court.

In 2016, the university adopted a ten-year housing facilities master plan to meet the increased demand for living space. In 2017, WSU entered into a novel public-private partnership to fund $310 million in new construction and renovation of existing facilities, adding 840 beds in new, market-rate apartment housing.

Wayne State opened the new Mike Ilitch School of Business located near downtown Detroit in 2018, made possible by a $40 million investment from Mike and Marian Ilitch.

Groundbreaking took place for two major projects in 2018—the $65 million Hilberry Gateway Performance Complex for theatre, music, dance, and the arts, and the renovation of an unused science library into the STEM Innovation Learning Center, an instructional learning environment for undergraduates that opened in Fall 2021.

The university invested $4 million to upgrade and refresh Wi-Fi across campus to improve connection reliability and speed.

Prior Experience

Prior to joining Wayne State, President Wilson served as deputy director for strategic scientific planning and program coordination at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health.

Previously, President Wilson was vice president for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine at Creighton University, president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, chancellor of the University of Colorado Denver, and concurrently chair of the board of directors of the University of Colorado Hospital/Anschutz Medical Campus. President Wilson also chaired the board of directors of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and was acting president during part of that time.

At a glance

Yokohama, Japan

B.S., Allegheny College
M.D., Harvard Medical School

Academic Research
Glaucoma and blindness in populations from the Caribbean to West Africa

Professional Affiliations

  • National Academies of Medicine (member)
  • Association of American Medical Colleges (past chair)

WSU standing committees 

  • President’s Commission on the Status of Women
  • President’s Standing Committee on Environmental Initiatives
  • President’s Community Advisory Group
  • Murray E. Jackson Creative Scholar in the Arts Award Committee

Wife: Jacqueline Wilson
Children: Presley and Yoshio
First Pup: Quincey

Long-distance cycling