Virginia Franke Kleist appointed to serve as dean of Mike Ilitch School of Business


Virginia KleistWayne State University Provost and Sr. Vice President for Academic Affairs Mark Kornbluh announced that Virginia Franke Kleist has been selected to serve as the next dean of the Mike Ilitch School of Business.

Kleist will assume her new role on July 11, 2022. She succeeds Dean Robert Forsythe, who has served since 2014.

Kleist comes to Wayne State from West Virginia University, where she serves as the associate dean of graduate programs, research and academic affairs and as a professor of management information systems within the John Chambers College of Business and Economics. Her responsibilities include oversight of graduate programs at the Chambers College, the promotion and tenure process, and administration of the faculty research function, including working to develop and implement strategies and plans to promote faculty research. Kleist teaches strategic technology management, data communications and network security.  

In her roles at WVU, Kleist has spearheaded the development and delivery of six new entrepreneurial online graduate degrees and has grown graduate student enrollment by 77% between fall 2018 and fall 2021. She also has extensive international experience, including oversight of the Robbins Center for Global Business and Strategy and the Center for Chinese Business.

In her 23 years at WVU, Kleist held leadership positions including chair of the University Faculty Senate, 11-year member of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, and chair of the Department of Management and Information Systems. Previously, she served as director of the M.B.A./M.S. in management information systems dual degree program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Kleist is a three-time Fulbright Specialist award winner, having taught in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and Ufa, Russia, for two of those awards. Her research publications include work on the economics of information technologies, information systems data security and IT auditing issues. Kleist won WVU’s Board of Governors Outstanding Teaching Award and her field’s best dissertation award.

Prior to her career in academics, Kleist spent 10 years in telecommunications network management at PNC, Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation, Joy Technologies and GTE (now Verizon).

Kleist holds a Ph.D. and master’s in MIS and a master’s in economics from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.B.A. from Marquette University. She did her undergraduate work in economics and history at Duke University.

Forsythe will remain dean until Kleist’s arrival. Under his leadership, the Ilitch School was renamed in 2015 in recognition of a historic $40 million gift from the Ilitch family, which allowed the school to build its state-of-the-art new home in The District Detroit. Forsythe’s tenure also included the development of several new academic programs, including those in entrepreneurship and innovation and sport and entertainment management, and student success and mentoring initiatives.

About the Mike Ilitch School of Business

The Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business prepares students for challenging and rewarding careers, advances the boundaries of scholarly and practitioner knowledge, and enhances the economic vitality of the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and beyond through its programs, research and community engagement. Established in 1946, the business school was renamed in 2015 in recognition of a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch. Thanks to this lead investment, the school moved to a new state-of-the-art building in the heart of The District Detroit in 2018, and academic programming and collaboration with city businesses are expanding. For more information, visit

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