Trustees grant leave to MSU president, appoint provost as interim president

Contact: Terry Denbow, University Relations, (517) 355-2262,

Apr 25, 2003

EAST LANSING, Mich. - The Michigan State University Board of Trustees today granted a leave to MSU President Peter McPherson and appointed Provost Lou Anna K. Simon interim president.

McPherson will take a 130-day unpaid leave to serve as financial coordinator for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) in Iraq. In this role, McPherson will serve as the principal financial and economic policy adviser to ORHA director Jay Garner. The federal government will pay McPherson during his leave from MSU.

"I am honored to serve," said McPherson, who plans to return to his MSU post in the fall. "MSU faculty, students and staff have always responded when called to learn and serve abroad."

McPherson follows in the tradition of John Hannah, who took a leave of absence from the MSU presidency to serve as assistant secretary of defense for manpower and personnel in the early days of the Eisenhower administration.

"This is a proud moment in MSU's history," said David Porteous, the Board of Trustees chairperson. "It is no surprise that Peter would be selected to serve in such an important post. He follows a long line of Spartans who have responded to the call to serve our nation and, indeed, the world."

In her new role, Simon was granted full authority to discharge all the duties and responsibilities of the MSU president.

Simon was appointed provost and vice president for academic affairs at MSU in 1993. She was among the youngest to hold such a position in the Association of American Universities (AAU) and is one of only 12 women holding the position of chief academic officer among the 62 leading research institutions that compose the organization.

"It is a privilege to serve Michigan State University and the citizens of Michigan in this new way," she said. We are fortunate to have many talented and committed faculty, staff, students, and alumni and a strong leadership team. We will stay the course and work together to steward the university's assets and promote the prosperity and vitality of MSU during the days ahead."

In addition to serving as president of MSU, McPherson has been a statesman, a bank executive and held key positions in the federal government. He currently chairs the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa. The partnership focuses resources and knowledge on what the partnership calls the most critical need of all of Africa's challenges.

Additional background information, including biographies and high-resolution photos, on Peter McPherson and Lou Anna K. Simon can be found at