Board of Governors Chair Kim Trent was appointed to serve in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office and will be stepping down from the BOG.

Beginning in January, Trent will have a leadership role in the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity, according to a press release by Whitmer's office.

Whitmer appointed a new board member Shirley R. Stancato, retired president of New Detroit Inc. 

Both changes are effective immediately. 

“It’s imperative to have someone on the board who will focus on addressing the problems that are currently facing Wayne State, we must put the students first. I believe that Shirley will work with the board through civil and respectful discourse, to ensure that Wayne State University is focused on providing a high quality education to each student,” Whitmer wrote in her statement. “Shirley is bringing an impressive leadership and advocacy background to the board, which is what Wayne State University needs to be even more successful.” 

Former vice chair Marilyn Kelly will act as the board chair of the BOG, in accordance with university bylaws. 

“I’m hoping to continue the work that Kim’s done, certainly in an effort to support the president and also to bring the board together, and support the president in a more harmonious relationship,” said Kelly. 

Kelly says she hopes Stancato will follow her support of the president, but noted that Stancato is “an individual, and she can make up her own mind.” Kelly says she and Trent have known Stancato for “years.” 

“I know Shirly Stancato. I have great respect for her,” Kelly said. “She has a great reputation in the community. So I’m looking forward to working with her.”

Currently the board is experiencing an ongoing conflict. Board members Michael Busuito, Sandra Hughes O’Brien, Dana Thompson and Anil Kumar have publicly opposed President M. Roy Wilson, repeatedly calling for his resignation. 

Kelly, along with Trent and governors Bryan Barnhill, Mark Gaffney have generally voted in favor of Wilson’s proposals. 

In November, Whitmer told Crain’s she was monitoring the board conflict “very closely,” calling the atmosphere “toxic.” However, Kelly says she doesn’t believe Whitmer’s move to appoint Stancato was an “intervention.”

“I do believe that (Whitmer) appointed Kim to a position that she’s planned on that had nothing to do with the troubles on our board.”

Trent was appointed in 2019.

Trent is currently senior vice president of civic and corporate engagement at Compass Strategies. Compass is a Detroit-based public affairs firm whose clients include the Detroit Pistons, DTE and UAW, according to her online biography.

Trent has a history in politics. She served as communications director and press secretary in Washington under 13th district congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. She also worked as Detroit’s Regional Manager for Sen. Debbie Stabenow. 

She also worked for previous Governor Jennifer Granholm’s administration, managing her southeast Michigan office from 2006 to 2010. 

Trent is a WSU graduate, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism and African Studies in 1991. She was a city hall reporter at the Detroit News until 1995.

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