President's Biography

Dr. George E. Ross, appointed the fourteenth president of Central Michigan University on March 1, 2010, believes in the transformative power of education on individual lives and the future of our communities, state and nation.

With a powerful focus on students, Dr. Ross leads one of the 100 largest universities in America (verify that) and one that ranks among only 5 percent of U.S. universities in the highest two Carnegie research classifications. CMU opened in 1892 offering teaching and business degrees and has evolved to become a major national university that combines the liberal arts with strong programs in health care, business, science, technology, engineering and math.

CMU in January 2017 opened a $95 million Biosciences Building — the largest construction project in its history, funded through state, private and university dollars. The university has nationally recognized programs in physical therapy, audiology, speech-language pathology and athletic training. Its undergraduate neuroscience program has been ranked No. 1 in America and its undergraduate engineering program has become one of the nation's top 100. CMU is considered a leading Great Lakes research institution, having received two $10 million grants from the Environmental Protection Agency.

CMU opened America's 137 College of Medicine under Dr. Ross' direction and in 2017 will graduate its first physicians, each prepared to provide care in rural and medically underserved communities. The university's business college is the North American leader in information systems, with more CMU students earning their SAP TERP10 certification than students from the second-, third- and fourth-most successful universities combined. Likewise, CMU sales students have ranked among the top three in the nation three years in a row.

CMU has acclaimed off-campus programs that serve more than 7,000 students online and at more than 30 satellite locations. CMU's online undergraduate programs have been ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Dr. Ross has led CMU through an extensive strategic planning process and will wrap up an update of the plan later this year. He has championed a successful shared governance and communications effort that is now in its fifth year, and he has rallied the university community as a whole to address the effect of Michigan's declining high school population on enrollment. 

With support and direction from President Ross, CMU has accelerated its student success and retention efforts, as well as its initiatives that develop a deep understanding of personal leadership among all students. During his tenure, CMU has increased its financial aid nearly 80 percent.

Dr. Ross has 31 years of higher education leadership and management experience. Prior to assuming the CMU presidency, he served as president of Alcorn State University, founded in 1871 as the nation's first public historically black land-grant university. Before that, he was vice president for finance and administrative services at Central Michigan University, executive vice president at Clark Atlanta University, executive vice chancellor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and vice president for business affairs at Tuskegee University. Formerly a practicing certified public accountant, he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in business administration from Michigan State University, a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Alabama, and has completed postdoctoral studies at Harvard University.

Dr. Ross has long been involved in cutting-edge methods of teaching and learning and is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). He previously served on a national Commission on the Regulation of Postsecondary Distance Education. 

He is secretary-treasurer of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU), board chair of the Central Michigan University Research Corp, and a board member of the Michigan College Access Network. He was elected to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation's Board of Trustees in 2017. This honor has special meaning for Dr. Ross, who grew up in Flint, Michigan, where the worldwide foundation is located.

His focus on students is reflected in a continued engagement in traditional and nontraditional teaching and learning. Dr. Ross has held adjunct and associate professor ranks at the undergraduate and graduate levels. He has developed continuing education materials and taught professional development courses for organizations such as the National Association of College and University Business Officers, the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers, and the Southern Education Foundation.

As a nationally recognized leader in higher education, Dr. Ross has presented seminars, workshops and lectures in higher education leadership, budget, administration and finance to universities and organizations such as the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, AASCU and the Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education at Bryn Mawr College.

A proponent of civic engagement and giving back, Dr. Ross has served on local, state and regional planning and economic development boards, countywide strategic planning committees, neighborhood development organizations and chambers of commerce. 

Dr. Ross and his wife, Elizabeth, have two adult daughters, Roshaunda and Joronda.

April 2017