It was her first day at Wright State as the university’s president-designate. And it was a good one.
Cheryl B. Schrader charmed the campus community, fielded questions from the media, explored the Dayton Campus’ tunnel system and got a peek at her next office.
She outlined her goals to students, faculty and staff — financial sustainability, administrative transparency and campus conversation.
And in a speech that quoted both Albert Einstein and Charles Kettering, Schrader offered a glimpse of her vision for Wright State — playing a leadership role in tackling issues such as environmental sustainability, energy security and economic growth by providing opportunities for graduates to excel in fields that will define the future.
Schrader, chancellor of Missouri University of Science and Technology, will become Wright State’s seventh president and the first woman to lead the school in its 50-year history. She will succeed President David R. Hopkins, who will retire June 30.
Schrader was publicly introduced as the next president on March 6 during a meeting of the Board of Trustees in a packed Student Union Atrium.
“This is indeed an historic day,” said Board of Trustees Vice Chair Doug Fecher, building suspense about the identity of the candidate.
When he nominated Schrader, the crowd erupted into cheers. And there was more cheering when trustee Grace Ramos said she was “pleased to have a role in breaking the glass ceiling at Wright State University.”
Lukas Wenrick, Student Government president, said he expects a strong and vibrant relationship between students and the Schrader administration.
“President Schrader,” added Carol Loranger, the faculty president, “you will not find a more committed, enterprising and engaging faculty, nor one more willing to work with you in shared governance to make Wright State’s second half century a brilliant one.”
Schrader’s nomination was then unanimously approved by the trustees, and at 10:28 a.m. she appeared on stage from behind a black curtain to a standing ovation.
“I am both honored and humbled to be the seventh president in the history of Wright State University,” said Schrader. “And I do have to let you all in on a little secret — seven is my lucky number.”
Schrader told the audience that the nation is at a crossroads, with policymakers, educators and entrepreneurs wrestling with issues such as global competitiveness and geopolitical instabilities that threaten our future.
“We must nurture an ecosystem that allows creativity and innovation to thrive among all of our students, scholars, our researchers and our employees,” she said. “Only through creative thinking and the convergence of ideas will we be able to address the critical issues of our time as well as prepare coming generations for the issues they will face in the future.”
Schrader said research universities like Wright State will play a pivotal role in addressing these challenges and that the new playbook for higher education dictates that solutions come will come from the best ideas from all sources.
She said she has developed a framework for her first year at Wright State and has already begun preparing by assessing vulnerabilities and laying the groundwork for success.
“In my first 100 days,” she said, “I will be creating and preparing to implement this first year’s strategy, shaping our business team and aligning expectations, beginning to embrace the culture and communicating, communicating, communicating.”
She ended her speech with “Go Raiders” and was presented with a green Wright State basketball jersey bearing No. 7.
Her speech was followed by a news conference in the Student Union’s Wright Brothers Room, where she fielded questions from a full complement of media representatives. Afterward, she took a second to check her smartphone.
“Oh, I have a lot of messages,” she said, drawing smiles from those in earshot.
Then Schrader, her husband, Jeff, and daughter, Ella, posed for a family photo holding and wearing bowler hats in honor of the Wright brothers. That was followed by a cookies-and-punch reception in the Atrium that produced a steady stream of well-wishers.
Schrader next got an up-close look at Wright State’s tunnel system during her walk to University Hall. After greeting staff members there, she got a peek inside the President’s Office and the second-story view of central campus and “Turning Points,” the university’s iconic red steel sculpture. Later, she and her family went on a driving tour of Dayton-area neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, the echoes of Schrader’s speech were still reverberating in what will be a new chapter in Wright State’s history.
“Together we all make a great team,” she said. “And together we will take the university to the next level.”