Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit has selected Virginia Franke Kleist to serve as the next dean of the Mike Ilitch School of Business after a seven-month national search.
The WSU Board of Governors approved the appointment that was announced by Provost Mark Kornbluh. She will begin at Wayne State on July 11. Kleist succeeds Robert Forsythe, who will remain as dean until Kleist’s arrival.
“We had a number of outstanding candidates for this highly-coveted position, but Virginia’s extensive leadership experience and her preparedness stood out,” says Kornbluh, WSU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
“She also has a proven track record in supporting faculty research, creating innovative programs, and growing graduate and undergraduate enrollments. And perhaps most important, she has a passion for students like ours with limited resources, but lots of grit.”
Kleist comes to Wayne State from West Virginia University (WVU), where she served as the associate dean of graduate programs, research, and academic affairs and a professor of a management information systems at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics.
Her responsibilities included oversight of the graduate programs at the Chambers College, responsibility for the promotion and tenure process, and administration of the faculty research function, including working to develop and implement strategies and plans to promote faculty research. Kleist teaches strategic technology management, data communications and network security.
In 23 years at West Virginia, Kleist spearheaded the development and delivery of six new, entrepreneurial online graduate degrees and grew graduate student enrollment by 77 percent between fall 2018 and fall 2021. She also has extensive international experience, including oversight of the Robbins Center for Global Business and Strategy and the Center for Chinese Business.
She is a three-time Fulbright Specialist award winner, having taught in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine and Ufa, Russia for two of those awards. Her research publications include work on the economics of information technologies, information systems data security, and IT auditing issues. Kleist won WVU’s Board of Governors Outstanding Teaching Award and her field’s best dissertation award.
Kleist holds a doctorate and master’s degree in MIS (Management Information Systems) and a master’s in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from Marquette University, and did her undergraduate work in economics and history at Duke University.
Forsythe has served as dean of the Ilitch School of Business since 2014. Under his leadership the school was renamed in 2015 in recognition of an historic $40 million gift from the Ilitch family, which allowed the school to build its state-of-the-art new home in The District Detroit.
Forsythe’s tenure also included the development of several new academic programs, including those in entrepreneurship and innovation and sport and entertainment management, along with student success and mentoring initiatives.