This Election Day, Michiganders will vote to fill the two vacant seats on Wayne State’s Board of Governors. The BOG consists of eight publicly elected members and is responsible for choosing the university’s president, controls university expenditures and sets tuition and policy for fees and charges. Elected officials serve eight-year terms. Here is a list of candidates running for seats on WSU’s BOG:
Diane Dunaskiss - incumbent
Experience: Dunaskiss served on the BOG since 1995. She is running for re-election with David Nicholson. Dunaskiss is a former teacher and principal for Lake Orion public schools.
Goals: In her letter of candidacy, Dunaskiss stated she is an ardent supporter of creating programs and value-based education that helps with student achievement. Value-based education means curriculum that teaches students specific skills for their career goals, her letter stated.
She is also an advocate for students graduating on a traditional four-year track. Dunaskiss said she wants students to finish their degrees as soon as possible with the least amount of debt.
Dunaskiss wants to remove barriers to graduation by closely monitoring and revising curriculum, and providing academic and financial support, according to her letter of candidacy.
She supports WSU integrating the use of private sector companies for certain departments such as housing. By allowing the private sector to be involved, WSU can focus on its first priority, which is student academic success, she said.
Safety: Transparency is very important when addressing sexual harassment, she said. She wants students and faculty to receive training on awareness and response for crimes such as sexual harassment, she said. However, she said the university has taken previous measures to help combat sexual harassment, which include a section dedicated at orientation for reporting crime and university-wide reminders sent throughout the community about these issues. Dunaskiss said she supports the WSU Police Department and said they have done a remarkable job protecting not only students but the Detroit community. According to her letter of candidacy, she plans to encourage the use of preventative measures and resources available to students.
Tuition: WSU has the lowest tuition rates of the three research schools in Michigan, and she said she wants to keep it this way. She wants to work with the state governor to ensure WSU keeps its tuition as low as possible, according to her letter of candidacy. Being strategic in WSU’s spending by focusing on academic achievement will help to keep tuition cost low, she said. Ensuring students graduate in four years will send them into the job market with the lowest amount of debt, and this will help keep school affordable, Dunaskiss said. Another way Dunaskiss plans to keep tuition affordable is by reaching out to high schools. Reaching out to high school counselors and encouraging high schoolers to utilize dual enrollment or online classes options will reduce the cost of general education courses, she said. Overall, she said students who cannot pay for tuition usually receive significant financial aid, which she plans to continue if elected.
David Nicholson - incumbent
Experience: Nicholson, president and CEO of PVS Chemical,is currently serving his first term for the BOG. He was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2013. Nicholson has mainly worked in the financial sector of business. He has experience working as a commercial banker at LaSalle Bank, a finance manager for E&J Gallo Winery and associate for Ryan Enterprise. According to the BOG’s website, heserves on the boards of Kids Kicking Cancer, University of Michigan Children's Hospital and the Legacy Detroit Medical Center board.
Goals: He said his mission is to eliminate any spending that doesn’t encourage student learning or new research. Nicholson said he can ensure WSU fully secures state funding wherever possible to help create more affordable opportunities due to his connections. He wants strategic spending focused on student achievement, which will help students graduate in four years and incur less debt. He wants to improve the budget process, upgrade Wi-Fi and implement research-driven strategies and programs to increase achievement, according to the Vote411 voter guide.
Safety: Nicholson wants to further improve public safety and work more with WSUPD to ensure students are utilizing the available resources, according to the voter guide.
Tuition: By ensuring the university has fiscal responsibility, the cost of tuition will be lowered or kept affordable, he said. He plans to use innovative financial strategies to decrease tuition and administration cost. He wants to use the budget for programs that only promote learning or achievement and wants to cut out any unnecessary spending, he said.
Experience: This will be Barnhill’s first term on BOG, if elected. His past experiences include being the chief talent officer for Detroit and working on the corktown Ford Motor Company Redevelopment team, according to his website. He received his undergraduate degree at Harvard University where he concentrated in government and received his MBA at the University of Michigan.
Goals: Barnhill said he wants to create and retain relationships and partnerships from the city of Detroit, but also wants to create support communities at WSU. He wants to create a support group for first-generation college students, according to his website.
He plans to make tuition costs low and make higher education more attainable. He said he would engage in dialogue of whether or not the university is making the right decision and will follow his role overseeing the university’s president.
Safety: He said he doesn’t have any experience about forming sexual harassment policies but said he would learn and make sure a sexual harassment policy was in place. He said campus universities should have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment among faculty and students.
He addressed the issue of people in poverty on campus, which he said he would make sure WSU would have resources and tools to help those who need it. He wants to understand what administrative office or student organization can help solve this issue and increase safety on campus.
Tuition: He plans to lower the cost of tuition. He said he wants to advocate the subsidized and free programs around Detroit that helped him receive financial assistance when attending college.
Experience: Kumar ran unsuccessful campaigns for Congress in 2014 and 2016 for the 11th District. He is a urologist and completed his residency at WSU’s School of Medicine. Three of his sons are WSU graduates as well. He is a clinical assistant professor for the Michigan State University residency program and said he considers himself a lifelong educator, according to his Vote411 voter guide.
Goals:Kumar said he wants to make WSU one of the best schools in the state. His first goal is to increase state funding. He said WSU is the least financially supported amongst the three research universities, and he wants to change that. He also wants to hold the administration accountable to decrease their spending, which will translate to lower tuition fee.
Graduation retention is another issue Kumar wants to combat if elected. He said he wants students to become actively involved in the classroom. He wants local businesses to start offering more internships to keep students engaged in their learning, he said.
Safety: Kumar said he wants to create a transparent and hassle-free reporting system for sexual harassment claims. He said he stands by a zero-tolerance policy because he wants students to know they are safe and protected by WSUPD.
Tuition: Kumar said one of his goals is to make higher education attainable for everyone with lowered tuition costs and increased scholarship funds. He believes better funding will lower tuition cost and attract more students across the state, he said. He wants to cater to those who can’t afford an education. According to his website, he wants WSU to be more involved in providing tutoring and training to make sure inner-city kids are college ready. He wants to lower the minimum ACT/SAT score for the Detroit Promise scholarship — a program the provides a four-year scholarship to students — to make the scholarship more attainable, he said.
Experience: Elgas was a candidate for Michigan’s House of Representatives in District 42 in 2016. He works as a tester for the company Refrigeration Research and holds a degree in business administration from Saginaw Valley State University. He said being an individual who hasn’t worked in education will bring main street solutions to WSU’s problems. “I want to be known as someone who is transparent and as someone with integrity both are qualities that are needed in every elected position,” he said.
Goals: Elgas wants WSU to start a trade school. He said this will help WSU increase their budget by attracting more students. Elgas said he believes having a trade school is important for students in the Detroit community who want to attend WSU but can’t. He said this will increase WSU’s student enrollment and will help students save money on higher education.
Elgas also wants students to be able to skip general education courses. Elgas said students who already decided on their major should be able to skip gen-ed courses, and instead take major-related classes right away.
He said this is the most effective way to reduce the cost of college.
Another goal he has is to expand WSU. He wants to build satellite campuses in other cities in Michigan to promote WSU’s name. Elgas said having satellite campuses in other counties will make WSU more accessible for students who live far from Detroit and need to commute.
Safety: According to the Libertarian Party of Michigan’s website, self-protection is a personal responsibility. He said he supports WSUPD, but doesn’t believe they should strip the individual rights of students in the name of safety.
Tuition: He said the main way WSU can ensure tuition stays low is by having students skip general education courses. He also said he wants to implement a special tuition rate for people who live in Detroit.
Experience: He ran in District 9 for commissioner of Livingston County in 2016 and currently is an electrical engineer and business owner. He said he knows how the higher education system works because all his children, except one, have gone to college.
Goals: Hargenrader’s primary goal is to make the university specifically for students, he said. He wants to manage the endowment fund to benefit students directly, he said. He said the endowment can be managed in a better way to provide more resources and financial aid for students. He said the endowment is not spent efficiently enough and should be utilized in a timely manner.
“I think universities are run for the benefit of folks that manage the assets and the university, when they should run for students,” he said.
He said the BOG rarely listens to the challenges and does not interact with department chairs. Instead, he said the BOG spends more time with multi-million-dollar donors. He said he wants to spend more time with students and understand the issues at hand.
Safety: Hargenrader said security is key for a positive campus community. He wants to address the drug and alcohol culture on campus, which he said interfere with academic achievement. He supports WSUPD and wants to continue their patrolling around the city, he said.
Tuition: The main way Hargenrader will lower tuition is by using endowment funds. He said the endowment needs to be used in a restricted amount of time. He wants the funds to be used over a time period of 50 to 75 years post-investment. As of now, the endowment fund is not spent in a fixed amount of time, he said. By using up the endowment in a restricted period of time, tuition can decrease, and the school can focus on improving housing and campus life with the remaining funds, he said.
“My goal is to make sure one of the primary research universities in Michigan fulfills its charted purpose,” he said.
Marc Joseph Sosnowski
Party: U.S. Taxpayers
Experience: Sosnowski is currently a board member of Wayne County’s Right to Life chapter, an anti-abortion group, and Chancellor of Knights, a Catholic fraternity.
He holds a bachelor's degree in environmental studies and a master’s in business administration. He said he has over40 years’ experience in bioethics and property management. He does not have public office experience but prides himself on not being a career politician. He said his outside perspective will help to bring improvements to WSU’s campus.
Goals: The biggest issue Sosnowski wants to address is WSU’s testing on dogs, he said. He wants to immediately stop animal testing for the purpose of research because it’s inhumane and is shown to have questionable value in the medical care of humans, he said.
He said abortion is torture for babies in the womb and wants to stop the medical school from teaching abortion completely.
Another main issue Sosnowski said he wants to work on is ending espionage from international students. He said graduate students from other countries develop technology and research that they send back to their country of origin. Sosnowski said the leaking of information is espionage, and WSU needs to protect its research from being leaked. He does not have a concrete plan on how he plans to specifically fix this issue, he said.
Sosnowski campaign is also working on preventing common core standard in WSU’s curriculum, and he wants to change the mission statement. He said the mission statement is almost tyrannical because it states, “We will create and advance knowledge.” Sosnowski said we cannot create what is already true, and we must fight against the progressive modernist mindset of relativism.
Safety: For students, Sosnowski said he wants to implement a courtesy ride program. This program would allow students to be given a ride to their cars by a golf cart, which will refrain them from having to walk a few blocks to their car late at night. Another aspect that will help increase safety is encouraging more on-campus housing, he said. By encouraging more students to live on campus, this will help security because students wouldn’t have to walk long distances back to their cars, he said.
Tuition: Sosnowski said he didn’t know what could be eliminated to make tuition more affordable. Instead, he said he wants to teach students how to make more money. He said he doesn’t want students to be handed money, but rather have them work for it. He plans to help students create home-based businesses, which will expose them on how to make money and graduate with no debt, he said.
Party: U.S. Taxpayers
Schwartz was not available to comment on her candidacy and no information pertaining to her campaign is available online.
Slone Terranella is news editor of The South End. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Susana Hernandez is The South End’s WSU Board of Governors and campus housing beat reporter. She can be reached at email@example.com. Cover photo by Miriam Marini.