Kim Kozlowski

The Detroit News

As President Mary Sue Coleman winds down her tenure at the University of Michigan, she’s being lauded as an extraordinary leader who steered the school through one of the state’s worst economic storms, leaving it not only intact, but stronger than before.

During her 12-year reign, state funding to higher education suffered unprecedented cuts as Michigan’s economy contracted. Yet Coleman oversaw the most successful fundraising campaigns of any American public university, initiated major improvements to U-M’s academic and athletic facilities and positioned higher education to play a lead role in transitioning the state into a high-tech, research-based economy.

In spite of the economic crisis, under Coleman’s leadership the university expanded its research facilities and football stadium, hired Nobel laureates and distinguished professors, and joined the national movement to make higher education available to a global audience by offering free online classes.

“I cannot think of a leader of a corporation or any organization that is as complex as the University of Michigan and under the same tremendous fiscal pressure that has accomplished as much as U-M has under Mary Sue’s leadership,” said Molly Corbett Broad, president of the American Council on Education. “The longer from her service, the more impressive it will appear. But her record is going to be viewed as a sterling example of leadership.”

Real estate mogul A. Alfred Taubman, one of U-M’s top donors, described her more succinctly: “She is probably the best president I’ve seen in 50 years.”

Coleman, 70, is retiring from one of the world’s most esteemed universities in July. She will be succeeded by Mark Schlissel, currently the provost at Brown University.

U-M’s first female president leaves behind a legacy that many expect will shape future generations of students, the intellectual life of the university and contribute tangible and intangible benefits to the state’s economy, public health, environment and more… Read more here.

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