Meet MSU’s newest trustee Sandy Pierce – The State News

Written by Amanda

Meet MSU’s newest trustee Sandy Pierce  The State News

Following the resignation of former Michigan State University Trustee Pat O’Keefe, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer selected Huntington Bank’s executive vice president Sandy Pierce to serve the remainder of his eight-year term.

While Pierce shared about her life and work, she was hesitant to make any policy conclusions relating to MSU. Pierce says she’s going into her first days of board business with an open mind.

“I believe that you can’t be a part of solutions until you understand them,” Pierce said. “And you can’t understand them without going in with no preconceived notions.”

Colleagues and friends of Pierce agreed, describing her as “transparent,” “strategic,” “personable,” and above all, a listener.

Detroit Economic Club CEO Steve Grigorian, who recently appointed Pierce as president of the club’s board, said her ability to listen has made her an effective steward of his organization.

“Some people listen just to listen, others listen to understand, I put Sandy in the latter category,” Grigorian said. “When you listen to understand … you can make some really educated decisions that are in the best interest of all the constituents. I think that is something that will translate to MSU.”

Huntington’s southeast region President Eric Dietz now works with Pierce at Huntington, but before a merger made the two colleagues, he knew and respected her as a “formidable competitor.”

“It’s a much more enjoyable experience working with her than against her,” Dietz said.

As an alumnus of the university, parent of an MSU graduate and fan of Spartan sports, Dietz said he feels his alma mater is in improved hands with Pierce’s appointment.

“Things have been a little rocky with that board of trustees over the years … but I remain committed to my university,” Dietz said. “Seeing somebody of Sandy’s caliber raise her hand to jump into this, it’s really exciting.”

While Pierce’s experience with education is limited – she served on a Detroit Public Schools committee to oversee the district’s $500 million facilities program – her experience as a Michigan executive and corporate board member is vast.

Before her time at Huntington, Pierce worked as the Chairman and CEO of FirstMerit Michigan, CEO and president of Charter One Michigan and a Midwest regional executive of JPMorgan Chase. She also sat on the boards of the Penske Group, American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings, ITC Holdings, Business Leaders for Michiganand Henry Ford Health System.

Pierce earned her bachelor’s and MBA at Wayne State University, though she sees herself as a member of the Spartan community, as her three children, two sons-in-law and husband all graduated from MSU.

As for her personal politics, Pierce said she doesn’t identify with either major political party. Her finances support this, with her individual donations going to Democrats like Whitmer, and her PAC donations often supporting Republican candidates.

Before making the appointment, Whitmer’s Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer met with at-large members of MSU’s faculty senate and the university’s secretary for academic governance, Tyler Silvestri.

Silvestri said the faculty senate members asked that the governor select “someone with board experience and a commitment to transparency,” and that “it was noted that the demographics of the board are something they should keep in mind.”

This appointment makes the new board two men and six women, with two members being people of color. The new board will also have a more dramatic political split than the last, with six Democratic members, one Republican and Pierce not identifying with a party.

Pierce’s term will expire in January 2029, but she doesn’t see her time with the board ending there.

“It is a great institution,” Pierce said. “And I’m really looking forward to the next six years, and then hopefully after that as an elected official.”

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Hi there, I am Amanda and I work as an editor at impactinvesting.ai;  if you are interested in my services, please reach me at amanda.impactinvesting.ai

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