EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has chosen Rema Vassar as new chair.

The decision was made at a scheduled meeting on Wednesday. Renee Knake Jefferson was the only other person nominated, and Vassar won by a vote of 5-3.

Vassar is the first Black woman to be elected as chair.

Kelly Tebay, Mark Kelly, Vassar, Dennis Denno, and Brianna T. Scott voted for Vassar, while Jefferson, former chair Dianne Byrum, and Sandy Pierce voted for Jefferson.

Vassar’s term on the Board began in January 2021 and runs until January 2029. According to her university bio, Dr. Vassar has extensive experience in K-12 public education, having served over 20 years as a teacher, counselor, and principal.

Known as “Dr. Rema,” she got a doctorate from UCLA and currently serves as a professor in the department of Administrative and Organizational Studies at Wayne State University’s College of Education. 

Mark Kelly was elected as vice chair. He was the only nominee. The newly elected officers will serve two-year terms.

Dianne Byrum told 6 News on Monday she would not be returning as chair of the Michigan State University Board of Trustees, but would stay on the Board.

“I am not a candidate for Chair of the board. I am passing the torch after being the chair for the past four years,” Byrum said.

Byrum was first elected to the Board in 2008 and was re-elected in 2016. Previously, she was the Democratic leader of the Michigan House and served on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners from 1983 to 1990.

The Board of Trustees will certainly hope that the appointment of Vassar will turn over a new leaf for the group.

During Byrum’s tenure there was a revolving door of presidents at the school, reported infighting among the Board, and other controversies.

Teresa Woodruff has been serving as interim president since Oct. 31.