Nine questions about Dr. Edward B. Montgomery, WMU's ninth president

The search for a replacement for the retiring Western Michigan University President John Dunn has been completed. Dr. Edward B. Montgomery will become the university's ninth president.

When does Montgomery take office?
Montgomery will officially take office on Aug. 1. He was selected was selected by unanimous vote of the WMU trustees during a special meeting of the WMU board convened April 12.

What is his educational background?
Montgomery has more than 35 years experience in academics. He earned a bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University and both master's and doctoral degrees in economics from Harvard University. He currently is dean and professor of economics at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy. 

Montgomery has held faculty positions at Carnegie Mellon and Michigan State universities as well as the University of Maryland. He has won teaching awards five times over the years.  

He has been at Georgetown since 2010. He began his academic career in 1981 with the position at Carnegie Mellon, where he was a faculty member for five years. He then spent a year as a visiting scholar with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System before becoming a member of the Michigan State University faculty for four years. He joined the University of Maryland faculty in 1990, remaining there until his 2010 move to Georgetown. He also has been a visiting scholar at the Urban Institute.

What is his research emphasis?
As a researcher, Montgomery has focused on state and local economic growth, wage and pension determination, savings behavior, productivity and economic dynamics, social insurance programs, and unions. He has worked on research efforts with Kalamazoo's W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research since the 1980s and has visited the Kalamazoo community a number of times.

For more than 20 years, he has been a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Since 2006, he has been a fellow of Stanford University's Center for the Study of Poverty and Inequality. Since 2011, he has served on the Comptroller General's Educators Advisory Committee in Washington's General Accountability Office. In 2011, he was elected a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

How much will he be paid?
His five-year contract calls for him to have an annual salary of $450,000. A deferred compensation/retirement package will provide an additional $50,000 per year. 

What can you tell me about his family?
Montgomery and his wife, Kari, a Michigan native, have three grown children — Lindsay, Elizabeth and Edward.

He used to work for the Clinton and Obama administrations? 
Montgomery is a nationally known labor economist. During President Bill Clinton's administration, Montgomery served as chief economist, then counselor and assistant secretary for the Department of Labor before being named deputy secretary of labor. In the latter role, the department's second-highest position, he oversaw operations of a $33 billion department.

During President Barack Obama's administration, Montgomery was a member of the president's auto task force and led the inter-agency White House Council for Auto Communities and Workers. That position put him in a role national media dubbed "the Auto Czar" and affirmed his view of the synergistic role universities can play in regional economic development. He says the potential impact of a high-quality university is enormous and is a key reason the WMU presidency was so attractive to him.

Why did he want to come to Kalamazoo?
"I was drawn to the opportunity to lead an up-and-coming student-centric comprehensive university with deep ties to the local and regional economy and community. Its strengths in the traditional arts and sciences, coupled with strong programs in such areas as aviation, engineering, business, medicine and others make it an institution with enormous potential" Dr. Montgomery says.

What will he tackle first?
"Job No. 1 for me is getting to know the faculty, staff, students and alumni communities. Working together, I know we can build on the strong foundation laid by President Dunn and make WMU the institution of choice for students from the state and region," Dr. Montgomery says.

What does the Presidential Search Committee of the WMU board of trustees say about the selection?
"Edward Montgomery's personal demeanor, commitment to transformational change and extensive academic background resonated with all of us involved in the search and spoke directly to the themes that emerged from our numerous listening sessions with university stakeholders,” says WMU Trustee William Johnston, who led the 22-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee.

Montgomery’s selection follows a national search to find a successor to Dr. John M. Dunn who had announced a June 30 retirement date but will now continue through July 31.

Source: Cheryl Roland, Western Michigan University
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