Michele G. Wheatly is the vice chancellor for academic affairs and provost of Syracuse University.
Wheatly is professor of biology at West Virginia University (WVU), where she was named Provost in September 2009 and served in that role from January 2010 to June 2014. Previously she was dean of science and math (2002-09) and chair of biology (1994-2002) at Wright State University. Wheatly ascended the academic ranks at the University of Florida (1984-1994) and undertook postdoctoral training at the University of Calgary, Canada, (1980-1984) after earning both a Ph.D. (1980) and B.Sc. (Hons., 1977) at Birmingham University in the United Kingdom. Born and raised in London, she became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2003.
As provost of a state flagship land-grant university with an academic health center, Wheatly partnered with the vice president of health affairs (in a tripartite administration with the CFO) to lead the institution’s first comprehensive unified strategic plan, to establish a single clinical enterprise, to launch a School of Public Health, and to acquire a CTSI.
Transformative highlights at WVU under Wheatly’s leadership include the following:
- a successful Higher Learning Commission reaccreditation
- alignment of the budget with strategic priorities
- the hiring of chief officers for diversity and globalization
- a 33 percent increase in revenues
- the receipt of more than $100 million per year in philanthropic funds
- the addition of 100 new faculty in interdisciplinary clusters
- investments in the social and behavioral sciences and the arts
- the acquisition of the Carnegie “engagement” designation
- an enrollment increase of 10 percent (2 percent more women, double the number of minority students and four times the number of international students), along with a simultaneous increase in student caliber (SATs up 40 points, national fellowships doubled to 57 in five years, graduation rate up 2 percent)
- the launch of Academic Innovation for online delivery and of University College to accelerate student success
- pairing of new faculty with external sponsors
- leveraging of faculty intellectual capital through investments in commercialization
- the attainment of the highest U.S. News & World Report ranking to date
Wheatly served as provost during a timeframe (January 2010 to June 2014) when Carnegie classification metrics were gathered that re-designated WVU as an R1 (highest research) classification. Wheatly’s signature program is the Women’s Leadership Initiative, which has provided executive coaching to 150 women.
Wheatly has served on the executive committee of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) Council on Academic Affairs and Commission on the Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative. She is recognized as a national thought leader on building partnerships around education, economic development, and health care (keynoted at the University Economic Development Association and the APLU’s Commission on Innovation, Competitiveness, and Economic Prosperity). She is also a passionate proponent of inclusive excellence, promoting access for and the success of women, people of color, and people with disabilities in the knowledge economy. Her work on universal access to STEM has received Congressional recognition (2004), and she co-convened the National Science Foundation (NSF) conference for presidents/provosts of ADVANCE IT institutions.
Highlights of her time as a STEM dean include a partnership with government-industry-higher education to prepare for a post-manufacturing regional economy in Dayton; the construction of a robust P-20 consortium that launched a STEM high school; the doubling of extramural funding; a 10 percent increase in enrollment along with an increase in retention achieved by addressing “gateway” classes; and the creation of an integrative doctoral program on technology-based learning with disability.
An internationally recognized scholar/educator (and presidential medalist in 1988), Professor Wheatly has been continuously funded by NSF ($25.4 million over 30 years) and has contributed substantially to her field (110 papers, 190 abstracts, 29 colloquia, 22 research students). She has been an officer in her professional associations and served on federal agency panels and editorial boards. Her scholarship interests include the comparative physiology of crustaceans, the logic of epithelial Ca transport, biologically inspired adaptive interfaces, bio complexity, and access to STEM careers for members of underrepresented groups. She has traveled widely in pursuit of her research agenda, including studying as a Fulbright Scholar in the Middle East and serving as an NSF EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) delegate to Ireland.
Wheatly and her husband of 29 years, Stanley K. Smith III, a Vietnam-era U.S. Navy veteran and retired Internet entrepreneur, are the parents of three adult children: Stanley, Veronica, and Marguerite.