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Posted on Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 3:01 p.m.

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman to retire in 2014

By Kellie Woodhouse


Mary Sue Coleman at the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting Thursday. Coleman announced she will retire in 2014.

Melanie Maxwell |

Editor's note: This story has been updated several times with additional comments.

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman will retire when her contract ends in July 2014.

"I fully anticipate that the next 15 months will be like the last 11 years, very busy," 69-year-old Coleman said during a Thursday Board of Regents meeting held at the Michigan Union.

Coleman said after her retirement, she and her husband plan to live in Ann Arbor and "remain active in the community."

"We've always lived in college towns and there's really no place like Ann Arbor," she said.


Michigan men's basketball coach John Beilein, assistant coach Jeff Meyer and Coleman speak at the U-M Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

Melanie Maxwell |

Coleman is the first-ever female president of the university. The biochemist and former University of Iowa president is the fourth-longest-serving president in the University of Michigan's history.

"Her presidency is arguably the most transformative in our university's history," said senior Manish Parikh, U-M Central Student Government president. "She is a remarkable human being."

U-M regent Mark Bernstein said the school has been transformed over the past 11 years by Coleman's leadership despite "divestment from higher education funding" by the state.

"She has led this university though its most transformative moments," he said. "She leaves very big shoes to fill and shoes that will be very difficult to fill. This is a different institution than the one she started as president."

Mayor John Hieftje said he felt the city had a better relationship with Coleman than with Lee Bollinger, U-M's president from 1996 to 2001 before Coleman arrived in 2002.

"Mary Sue engaged with the city better," he said. "We started an effort with the university to build more collaboration around economic development and technology. She took it very seriously."

Hieftje credited Coleman with helping to launch the university's Office of Technology Transfer, which has helped take research and technology from U-M to the marketplace, creating new tech jobs here and elsewhere. He said he always felt like Coleman was accessible.

"If I need to talk to the president, I can do that, and I see her about town occasionally," he said. "I think she has enjoyed life in Ann Arbor. Every time I see her, she seems pretty happy."

Coleman was the fifth-highest paid public university president in the nation during fiscal 2010-11, according to previous reports. Her compensation was $845,000 from July 2010 to June 2011, in addition to roughly $50,000 a year in retirement pay and her use of a U-M-provided car and house.

U-M Regent Andrea Newman said the school is in the final stages of compiling a search committee for her successor.

"She has positioned the university for future impact," Newman said, adding that "hiring a president is the most critical job of the board."

Coleman has led the university since 2002. During that time, enrollment has reached record levels, more than $600 million has been allocated toward dorm renovations, the university has renovated Michigan Stadium and built several multimillion dollar academic buildings, including the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, new buildings for the law and public policy schools and the new $175 million North Quad, a joint academic building and residence hall. The $754 million 12-story C.S. Mott Children's Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital was also constructed under her watch.

Coleman also raised $3.2 billion through the Michigan Difference capital campaign and laid the groundwork to raise billions more in the next campaign, slated to begin in the fall.

Coleman has also brought millions of sustainability measures to the Ann Arbor campus, testified about the importance of state funding in Lansing and has served as the co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

"She has great academic values. She truly values student learning and the student experience and high quality research," U-M provost Philip Hanlon said of Coleman. "She's tough and tenacious and that's what you have to be to run an organization this big."

The total student headcount was 43,426 in fall of last year, compared with 42,716 from the year before. The fall 2012 figure is nearly 12 percent more than the 38,618 headcount at the university in fall 2002.

Coleman said the work will continue in the months leading up to her retirement.

"We have [building] renovations going on, we've got academic programs, we've got hiring faculty, we're still populating North Campus, we're dealing with health care changes and the health care environment. We've got a great strategic plan we still have to implement," Coleman said. "So we still have a lot of work to do the next year and I am going to be excited by that work and not slow down."

U-M sophomore Robin Carey said Coleman first inspired him when he saw her speak at freshman orientation.

“She gives really inspiring speeches and she seems really personable,” Carey said. “The first time I saw her I didn’t think she was unapproachable.”

Alyssa Gibbs, a freshman at U-M, said she appreciated Coleman’s open letter to President Obama on college affordability.

“I remember it was a huge deal…I thought it was really cool and I took the time to read the letter.”

She added: “When I was going through the admission process I would see videos of her speaking. I knew she had a large presence at the university and it’s unfortunate that she’s retiring.”

Lizzy Alfs and Ryan J. Stanton contributed to this report.

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


sheri barron RN,BSN

Mon, May 13, 2013 : 1:54 a.m.

Please excuse me but I have a serious injury from a car/semi accident I was in a few years ago. I meant to say that my mother was discharged hours before her mother's first year anniversary (death). My mom died one year to the day of her mother's death. She was suppose to have still been in the hospital. I though the University was sorry for what happened and that is why I was put on a leave. In the five years that I was on a leave I had totally forgiven the University. I was very wrong in what I thought. I am just hoping that I can forgive and heal from my injuries. I did not have a chance to after the accident because as one psychiatrist suggested "UM was 'railroading' me. HR also called my private insurance company and told them lies so I did not get paid and ended up losing my house, health, credit, and respect.

sheri barron RN,BSN

Sat, May 11, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

Since I first starting working at the University in 1986, I have stayed out of the politics and focused only on doing my best at saving lives for the University and my Patients/families. I was thrown into the politics of the University when I was denied my position back after a 5 year disability (my mother was wrongfully discharged from the U and died within hours on the first day of the anniversary of her mother's death). I complained about her treatment and it was suggested that I go on a leave. When I returned I was only given a nurse aide job. This was on a floor directly below where I worked as a RN. I see all these people getting raises and being promoted after their wrong doings at the U. I hope in her last year She will 'clean up' the University so I can be proud again to work there.

Dog Guy

Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

The Ann Arbor Public Art Commission could commission Anthony Frudakis of Saline for a bronze bust of President Coleman to be installed in the City Hall Council Chamber.

Ryan Munson

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 3:20 a.m.

Good luck to President Coleman in the next academic year and may your retirement be one that is golden! You have done many things for this community that we should all be thankful for and may those continue in your active future endeavors!


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 1:55 a.m.

Perhaps the Regents can provide a nice parting gift - release the "attorney-client privileged" report on the hospital resident porn issue. Doubtful... Or, maybe President Coleman will ask that they do it and leave with a clean slate? Really doubtful...

Robert E.

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 1:23 a.m.

One of the best of the best...honored to have her as Pres of our beloved U of M...thank you so much President Coleman...I only hope we can find another President as good as best wishes to you and yours always...GO BLUE!!!


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

Somewhere, Jalen Rose lights a cigar and smiles....


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 1 a.m.

She was good but tuition went up so much under her, even the times were so bad. We did have some problems as far as the athletics, why did we have to spend so much $$$$$$?

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:39 p.m.

I will not miss her. From opposing the will of the voters on the affirmative action issue to stopping U of M employees from moonlighting while she continued doing just that, I think she has been out of touch. Manish Parikh is just a student and probably doesn't know the history of the U very well. During recent memory President Hatcher grew the university far more than Mary Sue and President Fleming dealt with considerably more challenging circumstances. She is hardly the U's transformative figure.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 3:36 a.m.

@ Jay, So she gets the donations and it would have happened anyway> Really? You can nto be serious, That is like saying Apple would have been successful without Jobs

Jay Thomas

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

@Blue85: You mean like Hatcher creating the North Campus and doubling the number of students? You would have rather not have had that happen I suppose. He didn't have all these whopping donations from bazillionaires to work with either (not that that goes to Mary Sue's credit; they would have happened regardless of who the President was. It's making things happen without the super rich that is impressive.) I don't think the U relied as heavily on TA's back then, blue.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

" During recent memory President Hatcher grew the university far more than Mary Sue and President Fleming dealt with considerably more challenging circumstances." Size, in academia, is almost always inimical to both actual and perceived quality. One of the reasons the undergraduate ranking has slipped has been the perception of a loss of quality due to a poor student/teacher ratio. That slide began under Hatcher, who wanted to pervert UM into an analogue of OSU from whence he hailed...I blame him more than any other actor for UM growing beyond its peer group. Coleman, to her credit, has started to hire faculty to lower the ratio and deserves a lot of praise for that move when other universities are cutting back. From my perspective, you have gotten both parts of that equation wrong and thereby invert reality.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:36 p.m.

Let's review some of her accomplishments; 1. She was in charge during the cover up of child pornography at Mott's Children's Hospital. Her "internal investigation" was so flawed that the Regents took over the investigation themselves and took away from her all responsibility for disciplinary actions against those responsible. 2. She was in charge when the DPS Oversight committee had no elections for 10 years. 3. She was in charge while we had multiple short lived police chiefs, including Ken Magee, who was suspended and fired without public explanation and Greg O'Dell quit shortly after finding out about the child pornography case and committed suicide three weeks later. 4. She was in charge when more than 3,000 people were given lifetime trespass bans and only saw fit to revise that policy when faced with news stories and a threat from the ACLU to sue the University. 5. She was in charge and ignored reports from both the Faculty Grievance Committee and the DPS Oversight Committee told her that University officials and police had misbehaved in the firing and arrest of Dr. Borisov. That cost the University more than $750,000. 6. She was the only University President to press charges against the SOLE protesters against sweatship labor. I could go on and on with her wonderful accomplishments. Her main contribution to the University was to destroy share governance with the faculty and to leave students and faculty out of the decision making process whenever possible.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

Coleman did nothing over the last 11 years to contain tuition costs, which increased at an unprecedented rate during her tenure; I would argue they spiked because of her tenure. For that, she is a failure as president.


Sun, Apr 21, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

"Sorry blue, but it is you who is misinformed. U students on average graduate with more debt that students of places like Princeton and Harvard" Princeton and Harvard have PER CAPITA endowments that are roughly 10 times the size of UM. Each of those two schools has an endowment of over $1,400,000 PER STUDENT: or income, at 5%, of more than $70,000 PER STUDENT...roughly twice the out of state UM tuition. You are simply incorrect on this score. ", and blaming the declining state funding, while at the same time the U is sitting on an endowment of unprecedented size, is completely without merit."" You have no understanding of how endowments work. The university has over 7,600 endowments legally entailed by donor, that is spending must follow the donor contract. A large donor contract can run to hundreds of pages and restricts spending. It is your point which is utterly fallacious. "Also, your statement that "increases in tuition are nearly 100% correlated with reductions in state aid" is difficult to take seriously." The graphs of the two functions are almost perfectly inversely correlated. You can argue that correlation is not causality, and it isn't, but when an institution loses $6,000/student/year and somehow tuition goes up by the same amount and when revenue sources are easily identified (tuition/fees, research dollars (earmarked and tagged to source), medical fees (also tagged)) it takes wishful thinking to assume that they are not related. "The U has spent billions on all kinds of things over the last 10 years. It continues to spend like a drunken sailor" Please, offer your line by line insight for the 5,000 or so budget lines and share your alternate theory as to how to raise money and how to budget it.

Ethics Advocate

Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

Tuition went up because of the huge reduction in State support, now down to about 10%. When I joined the faculty, it was 50%.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Tuition has increased at ALL institutions of higher learning over the past 11 years. So, all university presidents are failures?


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 12:43 a.m.

Also, your statement that "increases in tuition are nearly 100% correlated with reductions in state aid" is difficult to take seriously. The U has spent billions on all kinds of things over the last 10 years. It continues to spend like a drunken sailor, on anything and everything, all the while raising tuition and claiming poverty because of reductions in state funding. Yet, when it is suggested that the U be more responsive to the state and its citizens, the first statement that comes from the U's talking heads is to point out how small a portion of total operating revenue comes from the state.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

Sorry blue, but it is you who is misinformed. U students on average graduate with more debt that students of places like Princeton and Harvard, and blaming the declining state funding, while at the same time the U is sitting on an endowment of unprecedented size, is completely without merit.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 12:05 a.m.

From memory, as the university notes in its AUDITED financial reports: it is cheaper for an instate resident to attend today than it was roughly 10 years ago, during a time when the state cut per-student support by 50%. In addition, the university has earmarked $1,500,000,000 as an endowment for financial aid. In other words, you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. The increases in tuition are nearly 100% correlated with reductions in state aid.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:18 p.m.

Coleman said: After her retirement, she and her husband plan to live in Ann Arbor and remain active in the community; they've always lived in college towns and there's really no place like Ann Arbor.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

Great. That means that they will purchase a home in a2 (instead of living for free in a home that is provided by UofM) and actually pay property taxes to the city.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:59 p.m.

An intelligent, strong, grand, and gracious UM President. I wish Mary Sue all the best... GO BLUE!


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 10:15 p.m.

She is arguably the best major university president in the U.S. Few universities have excelled like Michigan over these past years---rankings, endowment, research expenditures, facilities, and overall quality. Michigan is well-positioned to continue to excel, and all of this in difficult economic times. She deserves monumental credit.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 3:31 a.m.

@ JBK, If only you could present FACTS to back up your statements. How about these, April 11, 2013 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup TOP 25 1. Stanford 749.50 2. Michigan 746.00 3. Penn St. 724.50 4. Notre Dame 718.00 5. North Carolina 674.0 This is the blurb from Wikipedia regarding other years "In 10 of the past 14 years (through 2008–2009), Michigan has finished in the top five of the NACDA Directors' Cup, a list compiled by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics that charts institutions' overall success in college sports. UM has finished in the top ten of the Directors' Cup standings in fifteen of the award's seventeen seasons". I hope UM has MANY MANY MANY more years of failures like this Facts are a tough thing for people like you to understand.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 2:38 a.m.

Gee David - I would argue that in Athletics, it has been an unmitigated failure. Football s*cks, basketball is JUST now being watched again, the hockey program is a joke..........:) And don't even bring up baseball. i will hurl in my cereal. :) I will let you chew on this and then I will wait for your reply. A "best university president" and I quote YOU by the way, is also responsible for athletics. You sir, lose on this count.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 12:02 a.m.

I think you are right on all counts. While "we" have become a bit ranking obsessed, she has been nationally ranked in the top 10, and that may be understating the case. There are a number of posters on this thread who claim the contrary and somehow know more than those whose expertise is higher education management...but the numbers speak for themselves...including a #12 rank GLOBALLY for reputation. I would go a notch stronger than difficult economic times in that a strength of her tenure has been building on excellence when the political climate has been fairly adverse.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

Rankings have gone down and tuition & out of state enrollment have skyrocketed. She hired Rodriguez and oversaw the atmosphere that got us sanctioned by the NCAA. She was also in charge during the FBI investigation of the Ed Martin scandal and covered up that in the internal investigations.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 9:43 p.m.

As a '71 grad, I watch these things. She has done a good job and will be missed.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 9:40 p.m.

Congratulations MSC! A nice parting gift to the city you love would be a donation from the university to help with the poor road conditions in A2.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

I wonder if Deb Mexicotte has talked with her about being superintendant of AAPS in 2014?


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 2:21 a.m.

Good luck finding anyone who wants the AAPS job.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

A great leader and one of the best ~ Congrats to President Coleman! Enjoy the UM Bicentennial coming up in 2017:


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

The 1817 founding date was a recent invention. Through most of the University's history the founding was celebrated as 1837.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 9 p.m.

Any idea when Mr. Martin bought the property and whe the plans for this project were hatched?


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 2:07 a.m.

Jay - treetown got confused with all of the tree hugging going on with Mary Sues retirement news... he is drunk with

Jay Thomas

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

That's a good question but it belongs in the other story.

Top Cat

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

At least she saw fit to live here and stick it out for a while. Unlike someone else.


Fri, Apr 19, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

who bailed?


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:25 p.m.

U of Virginia President (former U-M Provost) Theresa Sullivan would be a good successor.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

Old blood will be replaced by more old blood. Nothing to see here.

Jeff Reimold

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:20 p.m.

why does anyone care about this???????


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

Why does anyone care about the largest economic agent in this part of Michigan and the future of its leadership chain? Perhaps you should read up on the university in order to be able to answer that question for yourself. There is a new-ish search engine invented by a Michigan graduate called "Google"...give it a whirl.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

You cared enough to read and post on it. You obviously cared enough to scroll down to the comments section.

Dog Guy

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Buying Ann Arbor's city government is a memorable coup.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

She's made a ton of dough - she can afford to retire.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

Remember: she and her husband have donated more than $500,000 back to the she has been well compensated, but has been generous with that compensation. As an Ann Arbor retiree, she and her family will continue to contribute to the economic vitality of the town.

Audion Man

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

"..more than $600 BILLION has been allocated toward dorm renovations..." UM students are a spoiled and entitled lot. But not that spoiled... But those who got soaked in North Quad probably did think it was worth about $175. The other $599,999,999,825 went to other dorms.

Julie Baker

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 7:59 p.m.

We've fixed those errors. Thanks.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

Other than Rich Rod, all in all her term was pretty good. In a job like that you will make enemies.


Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

President Coleman has been an excellent leader. I'm sorry to see her leave.

John of Saline

Thu, Apr 18, 2013 : 7:40 p.m.

Mary Sue's leaving the U.