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Posted on Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 6:01 a.m.

Rick Snyder plans announcement on University of Michigan collaboration, Mary Sue Coleman says

By Nathan Bomey

Gov. Rick Snyder plans to make an announcement during his State of the State address tonight about a new collaboration involving the University of Michigan, U-M President Mary Sue Coleman told


University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman, seen here at an event in 2010, said Gov. Rick Snyder "has a very good mindset for problem-solving."

Melanie Maxwell |

Coleman, in an interview Tuesday afternoon after U-M officially opened a new business incubator, declined to reveal details about the new collaboration except to say “we’re very excited about it.”

Other U-M officials declined to comment, and a Snyder spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

It wouldn’t be the first time Coleman and Snyder collaborated. Snyder gets most of the credit for founding economic development group Ann Arbor SPARK in 2005 — but it was largely an initiative he co-designed and championed with Coleman.

As an Ann Arbor venture capitalist, Snyder invested in multiple U-M spinoff companies, including health software firm HealthMedia, medical device firm HandyLab and electronics maker Discera.

Snyder and his venture capital firms reaped big returns on the 2008 sale of HealthMedia to Johnson & Johnson, which kept the company in Ann Arbor, and the 2009 sale of HandyLab to Becton, Dickinson and Co., which announced in October 2010 that it would move HandyLab’s operations to the East Coast.

Coleman said her experience working with Snyder and witnessing his business career indicates he “has a very good mindset for problem-solving.”

“I think he will be very evidence-based, I think he’ll be practical, I think he will look for solutions,” she said. “He will be action-driven, goal-oriented, trying to get to the end result, trying to figure out ways to get to putting the state on a sustainable path.”

She added: “I don’t think he’s naive about the fact that this is hard work. But I feel very good about the kind of experience that he brings to the job, and I also feel very good about the fact that we’ve worked with him a long time, and we know him well.”

Coleman’s comments come a week after Snyder met with the presidents of the state’s 15 public universities. Snyder, a Republican and first-time politician who took office Jan. 1, told the presidents that they need to prepare for additional cuts to higher education in the near term.

But he also told them that he believes universities are drivers of economic development and that their role in the state’s revitalization is critical.

“If you look at great economic development, a university is usually behind it somewhere,” Snyder told the presidents.

“He knows that very, very well,” Coleman said. “I understand that tough choices have to be made. I get that. We’re going to do the best we can. We want to be good partners with him, just like we’ve tried to be good partners all across the board.”

As the state seeks to close a $1.8 billion deficit, the governor and state legislators are considering a wide range of cuts. Snyder is expected to offer a glimpse of his February budget proposal during the State of the State tonight at 7 p.m.

Political leaders in Lansing have been circulating a document that lays out a scenario in which the state would eliminate the more than $300 million it gives to U-M, thus forcing U-M to become a private university.

But the concept is widely considered to be politically dangerous in part because of the inflationary effect it would likely have on tuition.

Coleman said it was an “unrealistic” proposition.

“The University of Michigan is a proud public institution. This state has a huge investment in this university. We want to be a great public university,” she said. “The talk about privatization is just, in my view, irrelevant and silly.”

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.



Thu, Jan 20, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

Wow, relentless positive management jargon. And a partnership between Proctor & Gamble and the University Research Corridor? I'm speechless.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 5:16 p.m.

The U of M should go private. The amount of in state students is declining every year so that the school can recieve more tuition dollars from out of state, including foreign students. If it were private, the school wouldn't feel obligated to take any in state students and go for the $ with no shame.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

The primary mission of the state is to take care of it's citizens. That level of care is mostly determined by voters electing others to represent their desires. The primary mission of the University is to educate and support that directive. Voters also have input to that by electing the Regents.


Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 4:17 p.m.

Maybe by cutting the State budget, in turn cutting U of M's budget we can cut a few layers of bone to get the State and U of M lean again. I think we all agree that the State and U of M have a lot of services offered that do not contribute much to the primary mission of the organization. Cut Baby Cut!

Lady Audrey

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 11:26 p.m.

It's easy to talk about cutting until the cut is something you personally care about. Cutting means cutting jobs because that's the biggest expense in service oriented businesses.

brother easy

Wed, Jan 19, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

I agree with Coleman's position. As tuitions continue to rise in all public colleges and universities, higher education is becoming an unrealistic option for those of us who struggle with decreased wages and benefits. This possible scenario would contribute to the rapid disintegration of the middle class. Higher education along with other avenues for economic and societal advancement are becoming less achieveable. What recourse will be left for the public, if opportunities to improve one's educational and financial status become unrealistic and unreachable? Historically, the result has been revolution. I hope our elected officials in the state and federal government have the foresight to recognize that people in the general public, without options or opportunities, will lash out in their anger and frustration.