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Posted on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

Mary Sue Coleman: Michigan has 'watched the tragic events at Penn State with shock'

By Kellie Woodhouse


Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing at-risk children.

Andy Colwell | The Patriot-News

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman addressed for the first time the Penn State University sex abuse scandal that has roiled the nation and hit higher education institutions particularly hard.

In an email sent to the U-M community obtained by, Coleman said the tragic scandal "is a chance to remind one another that a community’s values are lived out in the actions of each of us as individuals."

"We have watched the tragic events at Penn State with shock and sadness," Coleman wrote in the email, urging students and staff to speak out, call police and "act immediately in suspected cases of abuse or other crimes."

"Taking action might be difficult or uncomfortable or inconvenient," Coleman said in the email. "But the alternative - delaying action or taking no action - puts the welfare of others at risk."

Coleman's remarks come 10 days after the nation learned that former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky is charged with sexually abusing at-risk children during a 15-year period. Several incidents of abuse are reported to have occurred on Penn State grounds in the football locker room.

A handful of top university officials —including coaching legend Joe Paterno and longtime university President Graham Spanier— are believed to have ignored warnings about the possible abuse as early as 2002, allowing Sandusky to allegedly victimize more youth.


Former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez and former Penn State coach Joe Paterno talk before a 2010 match-off. The Nittany Lions' 41-31 win was Paterno's 399th career win.

Melanie Maxwell |

Both Paterno and Spanier have been fired and publicly panned for failing to report the possible abuse to authorities. The NCAA announced Monday that Paterno's name would be removed from the Big 10 trophy.

Other Penn State administrators have been criminally charged in the case.

Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business, and Tim Curley, the athletic director, were charged by a grand jury of perjury and failure to report to authorities, which is required by Pennsylvania state law.

The scandal incited anger throughout the nation and has rocked many colleges and universities with strong athletic programs that pride themselves on honor and integrity, as Penn State did under Paterno.

U-M Football Coach Brady Hoke called the Penn State scandal an "unfortunate situation" at a recent news conference.

At another conference, Hoke praised Paterno for his contribution to college football.

"The one thing I can tell you is I have the utmost respect for what Coach Paterno has done on the field," he said. "It’s really a situation that’s obviously unfortunate."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.


Brent Lofgren

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

Thanks to Bonsai for posting the full message from Coleman. I would like to think that she is explicitly putting her head on the same chopping block where Spanier had his head, apparently unwittingly. Maybe it hasn't been as true as it should have been in the past, but it seems like she is implying that if she knows about an illegal act, the proper authorities will be notified, and others at the University should do the same. Time will tell. I'm with Christy Summerfield regarding Hoke's comments. Very bland, and unclear about whether what is "unfortunate" is the criminal sexual acts, the trauma the kids did and still do endure, the cover-up, the cover getting blown, or the sacking of Paterno and Spanier, along with criminal charges against Sandusky and Curley.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.

Wow. Ms. Coleman is making some pretty clear public statements about injustices. Kudos to her!

Christy Summerfield

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

I think everyone at U of M needs a refresher course on exactly what to do when one witnesses a crime or suspects a crime has been committed. Educators have a very clear "duty to report" which is the law. But perhaps all educators at U of M need a seminar to remind them to whom they need to report and in what instances they have the duty to report. A doctor who suspects sexual abuse in a child she examines, must report to the police, not the director of the hospital or head of the clinic. As a social worker, I'm very clear that my duty is to report suspected abuse to the police, not some supervisor or clinic administrator. I believe this "duty to report" as required by law needs to be made very, very clear to everyone who works at U of M. Exactly who is an educator needs to be spelled out. And yes, a football coach is an educator. So are teaching assistants. I wonder if anyone ever explains their duty to report to them. And it's not just child sexual abuse or physical abuse an educator has a duty to report. If an educator suspects a student is being physically abused by a anyone, that educator has a duty to report that to the police. Morality can't be legislated. People who don't have it by the time they get to U of M in whatever capacity, will probably never be moral people. But the law can and should be made very clear to every member of the U of M community.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

if the ann arbor news won't talk about this stuff, then it's up to us... those who comment to tell you the news. this is an important video to watch <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;Penn State exempt from open records laws&quot; it's an important video for those involved with public safety/policies... to watch

Christy Summerfield

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 5:18 p.m.

Hoke's comments are an embarrassment to say the least. They speak to the unfortunate climate of college football, particularly the big, money-producing college football programs. To call the situation at Penn State &quot;unfortunate&quot; is shameful. Sounds to me like Hoke is talking about the abuse being made public, not about the life-altering sexual abuse itself. These young kids, now young men, have been irrevocably damaged for life. To say anything good about Paterno is absolutely inappropriate. Better to not say anything about the man at all. Paterno has proven himself to be a moral failure as a human being. That he was a good football coach redeems him not at all. Sort of like saying a pedophile priest gave great sermons. I have no idea if Hoke is a good football coach but I sure know he's not anywhere near a sensitive, empathic man and would do better to keep his mouth shut in the future and let someone else put the U of M football team's spin on things.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

Rough Translation: &quot;Thank God this didn't happen to us!&quot;


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:51 p.m.

President Coleman's Response Inadequate : Thanks for publishing the e-mail sent out by President Coleman. Her response is incomplete and inadequate. She has explained action to be taken if a person witnesses an act of sexual abuse or other criminal sexual conduct. It is more important to prevent Sexual Harassment to prevent incidence of sexual abuse and other criminal sexual behavior. We need to know the nature of sexual Harassment and should be able to observe an interaction between a harasser and a potential victim and report the inappropriate behavior. usually, it would be much more difficult and it is more unlikely the act of sexual abuse could be directly witnessed by a thrid party. I would like to read the Sexual Harassment Policy of the University of Michigan. What are the Rules, Regulations, and other Administrative measures imposed by University of Michigan to prevent Sexual Harassment in the buildings and facilities owned by the University? I have some intimate knowledge of incidents at University of Michigan. A young woman had confided to me; she had worked for the University on a contractual basis; she had sexual intercourse with a Police officer who was on duty inside the LSA building after the building got closed for the night. She had consented to the sexual advance of this Police officer who was performing duty in Uniform. This Officer had a position of power and authority over this woman who worked as a Security Guard for a private company contracted by the University. The issue is not that of engaging in sexual acts by mutual consent. The issue is that of Sexual Harassment. This University had no Policy to prevent Sexual Harassment when the victim is not a student/faculty member/employee of the University. I want Sue Coleman to spell her policy in explicit language that people can understand.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 12:29 a.m.

I would like to make a correction to the story of sexual harassment incident on University property. The correct name of the building is Modern Language Building. I am not trying to assign any blame to President Mary Sue Coleman. I am only reporting that the University could be failing in its duty to protect visitors and contractual labor from being sexually harassed while they are on the University property. This incident was not a flash in frying pan. The nature of interactions between the female security guard and a married Police Officer during his duty hours attracted the attention of others and were known to staff at the Security Company and a few other Police Officers. This Police Officer would perform property check at a University Building while the female guard was conducting her own security inspection of the building during her midnight shift after the building was closed. The Police Dispatcher knew the presence of these two persons in the same building at the given time. The Dispatcher could have easily avoided this kind of interaction by simply assigning a different task to this married Officer while the location of female guard was also known to the Dispatcher. The female guard would have reported if the sexual kind of advance was made by a custodian/student/faculty member. Her decision to allow the encounter was attributable to the person in Police Uniform exercising a degree of influence on account of his status and position. I understand this behavior as Sexual Harassment even if this incident was never reported.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

&quot;McQueary also wrote that he &quot;did have discussions with police and with the official at the university in charge of police&quot; following the alleged incident involving Sandusky.&quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> What is happening at Penn State, could have huge implications to university police departments in general....

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

when i witnessed the crime that i witnessed... i tried contacting the DNR. they told me on the phone that UofM was good at policing themselves, and so they would not get involved. to make matters worse, although i filed a FOIA request for the incident report of the crime, i did not receive the evidence photo that is now being used as my avatar (i got that photo 1 YEAR LATER). that photo, was given to me... not by the UofM... but by another source... and is of the evidence that was spilled into the river during the crime. so even if you file a FOIA, you might not get all the info that you expect to get. note -- i say crime, because there is no accident report, nor is there a permit report -- that means it is a crime. and an unsolved one at that. if the crime had been solved, the person responsible could have been fined a lot of money, and we could have saved some folks at the police and fire department. think about it ann arbor -- we could have saved jobs if they had solved this! unfortunately... the DPS was unable to solve the crime, and no one else (local/state) was interested in solving it either. as much as we can be told to report a crime, it is also the responsibility of officials to solve those crimes.... and if they can't solve it, then don't 'close' the case, and make sure to pass it onto someone else who might be able to solve it. if the accusation above is true (that Penn State police were notified)... it infuriates me that Penn State police were acting on the best interest of the university and not in the best interest of public safety nor in good moral conciousness. if true, then the status of penn state will forever be put to shame. if it is true that the Penn State police ignored it, nor solved it... then sweeping reform to university police departments and procedures should take place across the country. the safety of the public must come before protecting the interests of a university.

Rod Johnson

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

I agree. Universities having private police forces in the first place is just inviting trouble.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

Kai, you hit the nail on the head! I think the strongest statement that University Presidents and Regents could make is to double check the policies and practice of their campus police and its reporting hierarchy. Is it clear that the campus police are independent law enforcement? Or does their reporting structure and Cleary Act notices have to go through media relations or a VP first? If campus police cannot act freely, then the administrative structure has reduced their professionalism to rent-a-cop status.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Judging by the comments of some of the &quot;usual suspects,&quot; the apparently think that the appropriate response to a massive child sex abuse case at one of the UofM's sister institutions in the Big 10 is to ignore it. Like JoPa did. Like 2 PSU VPs did. Like the PSU athletic director did. Like the PSU president did. Apparently these folks don't understand the &quot;leaders&quot; portion of &quot;leaders and best&quot;. Good Night and Good Luck


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

Another reason to close down the giant football teams and turn them into farm clubs similar to baseball. Make football a club sport at all colleges and focus on educational at the universities where the president of the university makes more than the football coach, and becomes more relevant.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

Amen, you are totally correct. MSC clean up your mess before commenting on another......


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

Big football rules the University of Michigan also, and Mary Sue Coleman is in the thick of it.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

It rules Virginia, it rules Penn State, it rules everywhere that a good player is needed. I have seen it at the hi school level as well. Look away look away....this bears repeating.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 10:58 a.m.

What did President Coleman do when someone spoke at the Regents meeting about cases of alleged rape by UM athletes? What did she do about the friend of one of the suspects who threatened to rape the victim again if she pressed charges (see the campus police report). What did she do when one of the suspects told Ann Arbor police that he had been warned by a UM official that he was being investigated for criminal sexual conduct charges by the Ann Arbor police? What about the former police chief? Whenever asked for complaints about harrassment by the ex-chief, the UM claims attorney/client privilege (FOIA requests). This is such hypocrisy by President Coleman!

Christy Summerfield

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

I guess you need to spell out exactly how Coleman basically did nothing because apparently there are people who are unaware of this incredibly shameful situation right here in our own backyard.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

What did President Coleman do upon hearing this? What did the UofM Police do? What did the Ann Arbor Police do? What ARE you talking about?

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

ann arbor news got rid of their FOIA expert -- Ed.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:18 a.m.

Ohio States response: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 3:46 a.m.

1. Of course it's relevant what Coleman has to say. News flash: we live in a college town with a big-time football program, duh, the exact same context as the Penn State scandal. 2. The article does not capture the intent of Coleman's email -- it was not only an expression of shock and disgust, but a practical guide to what to do if you're in a similar situation as Mr. McQueary. Here's the full text of the email: To the University Community: We have watched the tragic events at Penn State with shock and sadness. At Michigan, we are devoted to the highest ethical standards; we expect honesty and integrity from every member of our faculty, staff, and student body. This is a chance to remind one another that a community's values are lived out in the actions of each of us as individuals. It is important for us to act immediately in suspected cases of abuse or other crimes, or in a circumstance where you find yourself either a victim or a witness to questionable activity. If this is the case, please take one of the following steps: --If you require immediate emergency assistance or believe a crime is in progress, dial 9-1-1 to connect you to the police. --For a non-emergency situation, call the Department of Public Safety at 734-763-1131. DPS professionals can help assess the situation and determine what other notification or action is necessary. --Information on potential criminal activity also may be reported anonymously by calling the University's Anonymous Tip Line at 1-800-863-1355. Or in general, if you believe you have seen wrongdoing in the course of your daily activities on campus, you can report the situation anonymously through the University's compliance website (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Taking action might be difficult or uncomfortable or inconvenient. But the alternative – delaying action or taking no action – puts the welfare of others at risk. Thank you for your continued help in keeping our community safe.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:50 a.m.

yeah i guess they couldn't spare the pixels to cut and paste it

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:05 a.m.

thanks for posting that. helpful stuff.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:36 a.m.

Right now there is a case in pending in court here in Ann Arbor involving a Michigan football player that needs watching. If he is convicted of home invasion and burglary will he still be able to play football after he gets out of jail? This certainly isn't the same as Penn State but it is part of the problem when there is a standard of football first no matter what and keep silent about it. There needs to be standards to be able to play. If you are strict in the small things the big things will follow. The problem is from the top down to create a culture of silence to save ones job or promotion or increase in salary. People knew what was going on at Penn State but no one wanted to rock the culture of football first. It starts with the Regents and the Trustees of the university not just the president.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

Vick got off easy after that dog fighting issue. He is back playing football. So what does that tell you about our sports program? Nothing.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:35 a.m.

MSC is making an important statement. Specifically, she has said that if the same happens at UM, students, faculty and staff need to &quot;act immediately&quot; even if &quot;taking action might be difficult or uncomfortable or inconvenient.&quot; While one would think that this should be the obviously right thing to do, what happened at Penn State shows that people don't always act the way they should. Institutional leaders can have tremendous influence in defining culture and acceptable behavior, and encouraging people to speak up may empower someone to do just that someday; whereas had she chosen to stay silent that would have accomplished nothing.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:28 a.m.

for a second there... i was starting to get the feeling that the ann arbor news wasn't going to talk about this issue, unless the university spoke about it. whereas every other news agency (even those in canada) talk about it.... it seems odd that this national news event has been seemingly avoided in the local press.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:56 a.m.

Kai, this isn't a news source, and there's no Ann Arbor News anymore. This is just a local blog.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.

but although my criticism is aimed at the ann arbor news for their silence... i'm not critical of the president. her words were well thought out and appropriate. this is a hard issue for anyone to comment on.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

ok bedrog, Mary Sue is an expert on this......take off your maize and blue sunglasses.....


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 12:34 p.m.

see mine to &quot;charley brown's&quot; above.....

David Briegel

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:39 a.m.

That Jo Pa, what a sweetheart of a guy. He never, ever did or said anything! He saw no evil, he heard no evil and he spoke no evil. What a guy. He belongs in the Hall of Fame, or is that SHAME? Why would anyone be surprised at the criminal element in the phony sham that is college football? Wouldn't the Leaders and the Best wish to express at the very least, some form of LEADERSHIP in this aspect of the BCS?? Just a little teeny bit? How about the phony education offered to the athletes? Any comment Mary Sue?? How about a comment about the &quot;cult of college football&quot;? Were children a &quot;fringe benefit&quot; at PSU?


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

I couldn't care less what MSC has to say about this horrific situation. Your pandering toward the U of M and your base clientele is all too obvious. Any decent person will have the exact same reaction, one of shock and disgust ! Good Day

David Briegel

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

Why shock? Disgust I understand!

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:13 a.m.

she is in a no win situation. She has to say something I suppose, but the something is about as predictable as can be. .... pedophilia is bad, blah blah blah. again i feel bad for any official who has to make a statement on something like this.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 11:29 p.m.

As the president of a large University that is also a football power mary sue coleman's comments are not only appropriate...they are alot more sensitive to the true victims than the previous 2 comments on this thread which speak to kneejerk contempt of the UM and/or the very sweeping it under the rug approach that was so heinous at Penn state.

Rod Johnson

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

CBG: In what way are you not &quot;left alone&quot;? Did an unwanted email sully your mailbox? Did Mary Sue Coleman come to your house and make you read this article? Or is it just that you feel compelled to make sure that everyone hears your grievances with everything?


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:49 p.m. ive said before we probably agree on alot more than we disagree on...and im still willing to 'out&quot; myself to you if vice versa.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

We have crossed swords on other issues, bedrog. Not here. Your comments are spot on. CBG: It's called the duty of a leader (you, know, &quot;leaders and best&quot;). Silence connotes consent in the legal world, and silence at PSU begat 13 years of child molestation. It was her duty to make a public statement. But, then, some folks don't know much about duty. Good Night and Good Luck


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

you're talking to the wrong guy ( me ) as an example of the supposed &quot;PC POLICE&quot;...but while i am among the first to recognize the often yawning gap between &quot;pc&quot; and actual correctness, sometimes they do overlap and this is one of them. You just dig yourself a deeper hole with your additional &quot;drama' comment .

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 2:53 a.m.

Ah, the umpire of what's &quot;sensitive&quot; and what's not. I'm going to the same and say that I'm just as sensitive as you are by wanting them to be left alone. And how can any of us &quot;sweep it under the rug?&quot; We're not involved in it. Stop with all the drama.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 11:15 p.m.

Everybody thinks it's tragic and is shocked. We don't need Mary Sue Coleman's opinion on it. I think Brady Hoke's response was much more appropriate: no comment.

Rod Johnson

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Who's &quot;we&quot;? Maybe you don't need it, but then maybe it's not aimed at anonymous freelance complainers on the internet. She's my boss, and it would be strange to not hear from &quot;management&quot; on this topic, since the two organizations and their risks are so similar. I don't think it was the most insightful letter, but it's perfectly appropriate to clarify policy and explain the basis for it for the thousands of people who work for her--especially since part of the problem at Penn State was that some people felt there was some kind of gray area about what the right courses of action are. Coleman has laid them out for UM, so there's no gray area anymore here. He may have no comment to the public, but you can bet Brady Hoke has made things similarly clear for the people he supervises.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 11 p.m.

who cares what the U of M thinks.....why ask them, is what they say, gospel......