Mystery Solved: Former Michigan Dean Becomes Equinox President

Scott DeRue, former Dean of Edward J. Frey of the Ross School of Business, has joined Equinox as president: courtesy photo

In early April, Michigan Ross School of Business Dean Scott DeRue surprised just about everyone by announcing that he would resign from his deanship for a job he would not reveal. Today, with a simple entry on his LinkedIn profile, the mystery is solved.

After serving on the board of Equinox for just over three years, the New York-based wellness and fitness company named him president. The privately held company, backed by billionaire and leading business school benefactor Stephen Ross, has nearly 8,000 employees in more than 300 cities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Ross is president and majority owner of Related Cos., Which owns Equinox and SoulCycle. Two years ago, during Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to get re-elected, University of Michigan students and alumni urged Ross to cancel a fundraiser for Trump at his Hamptons home, with tickets sold. up to $ 250,000. Some students and alumni have urged authorities to remove Ross’s name from the business school. The real estate mogul, who also owns the Miami Dolphins NFL team, has an estimated net worth of $ 7 billion, according to Forbes.

DeRue was forced to engage in revolt. In an email sent to students at the time, the dean expressed concern over Ross’s ties to Trump, writing that the school will “reject all attempts to divide our community” and “rise to the top. over hate rhetoric and live the values ​​we aspire to. We are a community where people from all walks of life are both welcome and encouraged to share their views. We do not endorse or support this event or any other fundraising event for political candidates. “


DeRue, a fanatic mountaineer, would seem well suited to his new job. An accomplished adventurer and mountaineer, he has made expeditions to the South Pole with successful summits of Mt. Everest, Denali, Aconcagua and Vinson Massif in Antarctica. DeRue worked in private equity and management consulting before earning his doctorate in management from Michigan State University. Besides his time on the board, which would have given him a solid education in the fitness industry, he is adept at regular exercise and tough challenges. Before becoming Ross’s dean, he reoriented the school’s executive education activities and, as dean, succeeded a largely unpopular dean, Alison Davis-Blake, who left without immediate employment after five years. on duty.

The fitness industry was rocked during the pandemic which forced most gyms to close. Several rival companies went bankrupt and in February Equinox would have gotten relief on some of his debts related to the SoulCycle subsidiary of the luxury fitness chain after agreeing to repay part of the loans.

The former dean will also run a high-end gym chain which has been the subject of criticism. New York Times history noting that many trainers find their work schedules ruthless, with low wages and high turnover. Under the headline “Working at Equinox:” It’s Very Hunger Games, “the 2019 story was based on court records and interviews with labor attorneys, fitness experts, Equinox managers and nearly 30 current Equinox trainers. The company has recognized that it has an annual turnover of 50% among its more than 1,000 personal trainers.

Equinox started out as a unique fitness club on New York’s Upper West Side and now has over 100 gyms around the world. The company also operates brands such as Blink Fitness, Precision Run, and Pure Yoga. Equinox acquired a majority stake in SoulCycle in 2011.

Ross’s first major donation in Michigan was a pledge of $ 100 million in 2004 that was used for a new building and endowment operations for the business school, which was renamed in his honor. In 2013, Ross returned with a donation of $ 200 million, half of which was for the development of a cutting-edge collaborative learning environment on the Ross School of Business campus. An additional $ 100 million has been allocated to the Stephen M. Ross Sports Campus, transforming facilities and resources for student-athletes.


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