Executive Officer Biographies
Vice President and Strategic Director of University Communications
Merri Jo Bales
Merri Jo Bales was named vice president and strategic director of university communications at MSU in November 2018. In this role, Bales directs a strategic, coordinated and proactive approach to communications and public relations, overseeing the work of Communications and Brand Strategy and the University Spokesperson.
Bales recently completed a 27-year career with Consumers Energy where she ultimately was responsible for establishing, expanding and aligning the strategy function and for executive communication. Prior to joining Consumers Energy, Merri Jo was executive director of the Michigan Sesquicentennial, the commemoration of Michigan’s 150th anniversary of statehood.
During her career, Bales has gained extensive experience in public relations, internal communication, media relations and crisis communication, as well as strategic planning and major program development.
A 1977 graduate of MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, Bales is among the college’s Distinguished Alumni and has served on the executive board for the MSU International Alumni Association and the ComArtSci alumni board.
Secretary to the Board of Trustees
426 Auditorium Road, Room 450
Nakia White Barr is Secretary to the MSU Board of Trustees. Barr joined the MSU Office of General Counsel in 2014, where she focuses on commercial transactions, governance, and government relations. She also is an adjunct professor in the MSU College of Law, teaching contract drafting. As Secretary to the Board, Barr’s duties include administrative responsibilities for board meetings, university ordinances, policies, and courtesies. Prior to joining MSU, Barr worked as a real estate attorney in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. She also was a municipal attorney in New Jersey, including serving as Chief Municipal Prosecutor for the City of Trenton.
Barr is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and Harvard Law School.
Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
William R. Beekman
Bill Beekman was named athletics director in July 2018. Beekman was appointed interim athletic director in February 2018 before taking over the position full time.
Beekman is responsible for oversight of MSU’s 25 varsity sports teams as well as the care of more than 700 Spartan student-athletes. He provides leadership in the areas of sports management, game operations, financial administration, personnel, fundraising, corporate interaction, facility management, marketing and communication.
An MSU alumnus, Beekman has served his alma mater since 1995, assuming his most recent role as vice president and secretary of the Board of Trustees in 2008. Previously, he served as executive director of the MSU Alumni Association, senior adviser to the provost and assistant dean for finance in the College of Human Medicine. Beekman led MSU’s negotiations with the McLaren Health System to develop a hospital adjacent to campus and, with several colleagues, negotiated the expansion of the College of Human Medicine to Grand Rapids. He has taught health policy in the College of Law and the College of Human Medicine.
Beekman received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School and a bachelor’s degree in justice, morality and constitutional democracy from James Madison College at MSU.
Associate Vice President for Strategic Infrastructure Planning and Facilities
1147 Chestnut Road, Room 101
Infrastructure Planning and Facilities Building
Dan Bollman is associate vice president for Strategic Infrastructure Planning and Facilities. A registered professional engineer with decades of experience in design- and construction-related activities, Bollman previously was director of Engineering and Architectural Services, where he was responsible for all estimating, design, and construction activities on campus related to construction of new facilities, renovations, maintenance and repair, infrastructure, and landscape.
After graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, Bollman spent five years managing the construction of major projects with the United States Naval Civil Engineer Corps. He then returned to MSU to work in various capacities within Engineering and Architectural Services before becoming director.
Bollman holds a master’s degree in resource development, is a LEED-accredited professional and a certified educational facilities professional. He is active in the Construction Owners Association of America, Association of Physical Plant Administrators, and the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Vice President for Planning and Budgets
426 Auditorium Road, Room 330
David S. Byelich
David Byelich is vice president for MSU’s Office of Planning and Budgets. The office coordinates budget preparation, capital, space planning, institutional research and integrated strategic planning across academic and nonacademic units. It also provides information and analytical support to the provost and the executive vice president for administrative services.
Byelich received a bachelor’s degree in political science from MSU and also completed graduate work in the department. His career began in the James Madison College and Department of Residence Halls. He later joined the university budget office as an analyst. In 1995, he was named director of the Office of Planning and Budgets, reporting to both the provost and the vice president for finance and operations. In 2001 he was appointed assistant vice president and director of the Office of Planning and Budgets.
Vice President for Auxiliary Enterprises
550 S. Harrison Road, Room 3010D
Vennie Gore is vice president for Auxiliary Enterprises at MSU. In this role, Gore administers a residence hall system with a capacity for 17,500 students; apartments housing for 2,500 students, faculty, and staff; and a culinary services program serving more than 50,000 meals daily. Additional auxiliary operations include the MSU Union, MSU Bakers, University Concessions, Sparty’s coffee house and convenience stores, Starbucks coffee shops, Spartan Signature Catering, Food Stores, Spartan Linen Services, University Conference Services, the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, Forest Akers Golf Courses, the MSU Tennis Center, Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center, Cowles House presidential residence, and the MSU Alumni Chapel.
Before joining MSU in 2007, Gore was associate director for housing and food services at the University of Washington. With the exception of two years as the assistant director of housing at the University of Wisconsin, Gore served in various leadership roles at the University of Washington since 1985.
A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Gore had previously served as a resident director at the University of Illinois and received his master’s degree in college student personnel from Indiana University. He also has served as a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Student Segmentation Advisory Board and currently serves on the board of directors for the Capital Area United Way.
Vice President and University Spokesperson
408 West Circle Drive, Room 401
Emily Gerkin Guerrant
Emily Gerkin Guerrant joined MSU in March 2018 as vice president and university spokesperson. Guerrant oversees daily media relations, crisis communications, and works with the Communications and Brand Strategy Team on strategic communications efforts.
Prior to joining MSU, Guerrant was the senior vice president of marketing and communications at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the state’s marketing arm. She managed the strategic direction for all marketing campaigns, including the successful Pure Michigan tourism campaign and the more recent PlanetM campaign to position Michigan as a global leader in mobility and autonomous vehicle development. Guerrant also led strategic media communications projects for the state’s economic development arm, focusing messaging around Michigan’s comeback economy and successes since the end of the recession.
Prior to MEDC, Emily spent 10 years at two statewide public relations agencies where she focused on issues management and advocacy communications. She started her career as a press secretary to state lawmakers and the Speaker of the House in the Michigan Legislature.
Guerrant earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in public relations from Michigan State University.
Vice President for Finance and Treasurer
426 Auditorium Road, Room 412
Mark P. Haas
Mark P. Haas was named vice president for finance and treasurer in January 2013. Since joining MSU in 2010, he has served as assistant vice president for business and chief financial officer and as associate vice president for business and chief financial officer.
Haas has more than three decades of government, financial, investment, and managerial experience, along with a broad and deep knowledge of all aspects of financial operations. He came to MSU from the State of Michigan, where he served as chief deputy treasurer from 2007 to 2010. In that role, Haas served as principal adviser to the state treasurer, overseeing 2,200 employees and a budget of $1.9 billion. Haas also served the state in a number of capacities within the Department of Treasury, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Management and Budget. Haas also served on MSU’s Investment Advisory Board prior to joining the university.
Haas received a bachelor of science in business administration and a master of arts in economics from Central Michigan University. He did graduate studies in economics at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and at MSU and completed the postgraduate State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Vice President for University Advancement
535 Chestnut Road, Room 300
Marti Heil re-joined MSU as Vice President for University Advancement in October, 2018.
Heil’s distinguished career in fundraising began right here at Michigan State, where she spent nearly three decades working her way up in advancement before serving as Interim Vice President of Development. During her tenure, she increased the development staff, wrote strategic plans for multiple campaigns, developed unit goals with different colleges and units, and worked with deans, directors, and executive leadership.
In 2009, she joined the Indiana University Foundation as Senior Vice President for Development, and was responsible for increasing $1 million donors by 30 percent and establishing a Principal Gifts Program for donors who give $5 million or more. She then moved southeast to Virginia Commonwealth University in June 2013, where she served as Vice President for Development and Alumni, responsible for all fundraising and alumni relations efforts, before retiring in 2017.
Heil’s return to Advancement at MSU coincided with the close of the successful Empower Extraordinary capital campaign, which raised more than $1.75B. Her experience and familiarity with Michigan State are valuable assets as the university works to shape its next major fundraising endeavors.
Heil is a 1976 graduate of MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, with a degree in advertising.
Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies
426 Auditorium Road, Room 232
Before joining MSU in 2012, Stephen Hsu was director of the Institute for Theoretical Science and professor of physics at the University of Oregon. He also serves as scientific adviser to BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute) and is a member of its Cognitive Genomics Lab.
Hsu’s primary work has been in applications of quantum field theory, particularly in relation to problems in quantum chromodynamics, dark energy, black holes, entropy bounds, and particle physics beyond the standard model. He has also made contributions in genomics and bioinformatics, the theory of modern finance, and in encryption and information security.
Founder of two Silicon Valley companies—SafeWeb, a pioneer in SSL VPN (Secure Sockets Layer Virtual Private Networks) appliances, which was acquired by Symantec in 2003, and Robot Genius Inc., which developed antimalware technologies—Hsu has given invited research seminars and colloquia at leading research universities and laboratories around the world. He is the author of more than 100 research articles, ranging from theoretical physics and cosmology to computer science and biology.
Hsu graduated from the California Institute of Technology and received his doctorate in physics from the University of California–Berkeley. A junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows, he was on the faculty at Yale University before moving to the University of Oregon.
Vice President and Associate Provost for Student Affairs and Services
556 East Circle Drive, Room 150
Student Services Building
Denise B. Maybank
Denise B. Maybank is the vice president and associate provost for Student Affairs and Services at Michigan State University. Maybank is an advocate for students, focused on promoting learning outcomes while sustaining engaged student experiences.
Her career achievements span the areas of administration, consultation, counseling, and education, including teaching graduate courses internationally. A native of New York City, Maybank has a doctoral degree in counseling and school psychology from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in educational administration from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
Prior to returning to her alma mater, she held the position of associate to the president in the University of Nebraska’s central administration. Maybank has served on the faculty or as an administrator at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine, the College of New Jersey, and the University of Nebraska–Omaha.
Maybank has held a variety of positions on boards of directors, councils, coalitions, and committees through which she has had the opportunity to serve others. She currently serves as co-chair-elect of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities’ Council on Student Affairs Executive Committee; commissioner of the Greater Lansing Area Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission; and member of the Lansing Community Board of Ele’s Place, a nonprofit, community-based organization dedicated to creating awareness of and support for grieving children, teens, and their families.
Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer
450 Auditorium Road, Room 400
Rob McCurdy is Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer. He is responsible for leading Michigan State University’s technology strategy and managing overall IT operations and services.
McCurdy’s initiatives include improving service delivery through embracing the effective and efficient use of technology; creating business models for delivering new services; and leading strategic initiatives to transform the technology unit to be flexible, adaptable, and responsive to the needs of the MSU community.
He served as MSU’s chief information security officer from October 2013 through July 2016. Prior to joining MSU, McCurdy was chief information security officer with Farmers Insurance in Los Angeles, California. In previous roles, he worked as a consultant for Accenture and Crowe Chizek in Chicago.
McCurdy joined Michigan State University in 2013. He grew up in Michigan and earned a bachelor of computer science from MSU in 2006.
Acting Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel
426 Auditorium Road, Room 494
Brian Quinn is the Acting Vice President for Legal Affairs and General Counsel at Michigan State University, where he practices litigation. Before joining the Office of the General Counsel, Brian was a partner at the Honigman law firm in Lansing, Michigan, where he had a diverse litigation practice. Previously, he served as a law clerk for Justice Michael F. Cavanagh of the Michigan Supreme Court. Brian received his law degree summa cum laude from Michigan State University College of Law and his Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University.
Senior Adviser to the President for Diversity and Director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives
426 Auditorium Road, Room 444
Paulette Granberry Russell
Paulette Granberry Russell joined Michigan State University in 1998 as senior adviser to the president for diversity and serves as director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives. She is responsible for facilitating efforts and collaborating with various departments and colleges to develop effective strategies to advance a diverse university environment and for assessing the effectiveness of such efforts. Granberry Russell also leads various all-university committees responsible for diversity support programs and directs efforts to ensure university compliance with federal and state nondiscrimination laws and regulations.
A 2000–01 Committee on Institutional Cooperation-Academic Leadership Program fellow, Granberry Russell has made numerous presentations on equal opportunity, affirmative action, best practices in recruiting, strategies for retaining a diverse faculty, and diversity and inclusion efforts in higher education. She was invited to the Durban Institute of Technology in South Africa to present workshops on affirmative action and diversity programming in postapartheid higher education and served as a panelist on affirmative action and diversity initiatives in U.S. higher education at an international conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Granberry Russell is an integral part of the National Science Foundation ADVANCE—Advancing Diversity through the Alignment of Policies and Practices—Program at MSU, which aims to increase the participation of women in the scientific and engineering workforce through their increased representation and advancement in academic scientific and engineering careers.
A licensed attorney in the state of Michigan, Granberry Russell also consults on labor and employment law matters.
Vice President for Communications and Brand Strategy
408 West Circle Drive, Room 405
Heather C. Swain
Heather C. Swain was named vice president for communications and brand strategy at Michigan State University in April 2012. Swain, who joined the university as assistant vice president for university relations in October 2006, served as interim vice president for university relations from August 2010 until she was named to the vice presidency. Her responsibilities include overseeing the university’s branding initiative, strategic communications planning, media relations, marketing communications, web and digital, and photo and video operations.
Prior to joining MSU, Swain spent six years at Ball State University in the university’s senior communications position where she led a major rebranding effort that tied into the institution’s strategic planning and governmental relations strategies. Swain also spent five years at Indiana University (IU) in a variety of communications roles culminating in the position of associate director for university-wide marketing, working with IU campuses across the state on individualized marketing plans and alignment with the overall IU brand.
Swain currently serves nationally on the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Commission on Communications and is the co-chair of the American Marketing Association Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education.
She received her bachelor’s degree in English from the College of William & Mary.
Executive Vice President for Administrative Services
426 Auditorium Road, Room 412
Satish Udpa serves as MSU’s executive vice president for Administrative Services and is a University Distinguished Professor. He served as dean of the College of Engineering and chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at MSU before his current appointment. Prior to joining MSU in 2001, Udpa was the Whitney Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He was on the faculty at Colorado State University prior to his time at Iowa State University.
Udpa’s research interests span the broad area of materials characterization and nondestructive evaluation (NDE). He has published extensively, holds several patents, and serves as editor of several journals. Udpa is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Society for Nondestructive Testing, the Indian Society for Nondestructive Testing, and the Engineering Society of Detroit. He is a full member of the Academia NDT International. Udpa also served as the permanent secretary of the World Federation of NDE Centers from 1998 to 2003.
Udpa earned his PhD in electrical engineering from Colorado State University.
Executive Vice President for Government and External Relations
426 Auditorium Road, Room 484
Kathleen M. Wilbur
Kathleen M. Wilbur, PhD, was named MSU’s Executive Vice President for Government and External Relations by Interim President John Engler in March 2018. Her responsibilities include oversight of government relations, advancement, and communications.
Wilbur formerly served as a vice president and interim president at Central Michigan University. She also is the only woman to direct three State of Michigan departments and she served on the MSU Board of Trustees.
Before her MSU appointment, Wilbur was vice president for government and external relations at CMU. She also had served as interim president and vice president for development and external relations, joining CMU in 2002.
Prior to that she was director of the Michigan Department of Consumer and Industry Services, director of the Michigan Department of Commerce, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Commerce, and director of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulation.
Wilbur earlier was chief of staff to State Senator William Sederburg, who chaired the Senate Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, among other assignments.
She was elected to the MSU Board of Trustees in 1984 and served through 1990. Her peer reviewed journal publications and conference presentations focus on the role of institution trustees in higher education.
A 2007 inductee into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, Wilbur earned a doctorate in higher education administration, a master’s degree in higher education administration, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from MSU.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
426 Auditorium Road, Room 430
June P. Youatt
June Pierce Youatt is provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. As the chief academic officer for Michigan State, Youatt provides leadership for matters that affect academic programs, research, and outreach involving faculty, students, and staff. She oversees the quality of instruction and research at the university, addressing issues such as effective planning, good management, and program reviews.
Youatt helps ensure the quality of the faculty by administering and monitoring procedures and criteria for faculty appointments and promotions, working conditions, and tenure. She monitors the quality of student learning by overseeing the curriculum while encouraging and coordinating initiatives in undergraduate education. She also coordinates recruiting and admissions for undergraduate and graduate programs and is responsible for overseeing academic and budgetary planning and priorities.
Before taking the helm as provost in April 2014, Youatt served as acting provost (beginning January, 2013) and as senior associate provost (2006-2012).
Youatt formerly served as associate provost for Undergraduate Education and dean of Undergraduate Studies, providing leadership on undergraduate education programs and policy.
Chief Investement Officer
Office of Investment
426 Auditorium Road, Room 412
Philip Zecher is MSU’s first chief investment officer. A former hedge fund manager with a doctorate in physics from MSU, Zecher oversees all of the university’s long-term investments, including its endowment.
From 2010 to 2014, Zecher served on the MSU Foundation’s board of directors and from 2011 to 2014 on the Board of Trustee’s investment advisory subcommittee. He has also served as senior adviser to the president for investments and as an executive-in-residence and professor of finance in the Eli Broad College of Business.
Zecher earned a PhD in nuclear physics from MSU in 1996 and worked with Deloitte Consulting in New York, focusing on technology solutions for financial risk measurement. In 1999, he and a fellow alumnus started Investor Analytics, a risk assessment firm focusing on hedge fund risks. He later served as a partner and chief risk officer of EQA Partners, a Connecticut-based hedge fund.
Chief of Staff to the President
426 Auditorium Road, Room 450
Michael Zeig was named Chief of Staff in the Office of the President in September, 2018. Zeig joined MSU in 2012 and before his current appointment, held positions in the Office of Planning and Budgets and president’s office. Prior to joining MSU, Zeig worked at Central Michigan University and in the administration of Governor Jennifer M. Granholm in the education policy and external affairs divisions. As part of his scholarly work, he has been published nationally in journals including Innovative Higher Education and Change as well as other publications such as Trusteeship and Inside Higher Ed. He has also taught legal issues in higher education as an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at CMU.
Zeig has a bachelor’s degree in political science from CMU as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in higher education administration from MSU. During his doctoral program, Zeig received numerous fellowships and awards including the Erickson Research Fellowship, Erickson Memorial Fellowship, James A. Wilson Fellowship and Margaret F. Lorimer Fellowship.