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Academic trailblazer 

Illinois State chooses a Case-trained scientist as its first woman president

When she became president of Illinois State University in July, Terri Goss Kinzy, PhD ’91, embraced her status as a role model. The university’s 20th president, she is the first woman to hold the title. 

“It’s important for everyone to see that potential exists to go into leadership and to bring your voice and have it heard,” Kinzy told WGLT-FM, the NPR station broadcasting from campus. “It’s very exciting.” 

Kinzy emerged from a field of more than 50 qualified candidates, university officials said. She brings a strong research background to a 20,000-student university that is hoping to raise its science profile and attract and retain more in-state students. Previously, she was the vice president for research and innovation at Western Michigan University. 

Since earning her doctorate in biochemistry at Case Institute of Technology, Kinzy has received international recognition for her work in understanding how mRNAs direct the way in which proteins are made. A professor of biological sciences, she has been published and cited in numerous academic and professional outlets. In 2017, she was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

Kinzy told the radio station that she will let students guide her as she charts the future of Illinois State. 

“I believe that students are a great pulse of where our university is, but also a pulse of where our country is and where our future is,” she said. “They are often thinking about other different things than we are because they are seeing the future of their lives and their careers.” 

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