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Posted on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.

Age limits abolished for top University of Michigan officials

By Kellie Woodhouse

The University of Michigan Board of Regents abolished age limits for top administrators on Thursday, saying that the decision was not "about any individual whatsoever."

A university bylaw called for the president and executive officers to retire during the fiscal year they turned 70.

The university's legal office asked the regents to abolish the rule at their monthly meeting on Thursday, claiming the rule constitutes age discrimination and is in violation of Michigan's Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act.

The change passed unanimously by the regents.


University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman speaks during a monthly Board of Regents meeting at the Flemming Administration building on Thursday.

Melanie Maxwell I

According to Jacki Miller, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, public employers "cannot force someone to retire based upon age."

Sally Churchill, U-M vice president and secretary, called the elimination a "housekeeping change."

Churchill said the university published the age limit change, along with other proposed bylaw changed, and received no complaints.

For 68-year-old President Mary Sue Coleman, who has an Oct. 2. birthday, the rule would have taken effect during the 2013-2014 fiscal year. Coleman's contract is set to expire in July 2014.

Regent S. Martin Taylor said the rule change had nothing to do with Coleman.

"Our motivation complete and total is that the lawyers advised us the bylaw ... is in violation of the law," he said.

The regents approved several other revisions to the university bylaws.

They include changing the title and job description of the school's vice president for communications (now the vice president for global communications and strategic initiatives) to establish a global focus.

Tenure, promotion and resignation procedures were also amended to give the provost a role in them.

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



Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Sorry, this is a time where the Baby Boomers don't want to give up their jobs because their retirement programs were damaged. I know my attitude is not nice; but they have to make room for the succeeding generations or this economy will stay slow for more then 10 years. retirement ages / programs are for new blood not the Chinese system of government.

Jimmy McNulty

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

This reminds me of when NYC mayor Bloomberg amended the 2 four-year term limit for his own job when he was up for re-election.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

About time this policy was changed, since it was against the law.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

What is the average age of the Regents?


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 11:29 a.m.

What took so long? The Age Discrimination in Employment Act has only been around since 1967.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:50 a.m.

Great, now Bartles and Jaymes can come out of retirement and lead the event planning team.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:58 p.m.

It might be illegal to fire her but the administrative position at the University is never guaranteed. She could remain on the faculty without being president. Just ask the former chair of SACUA who was removed as the Director of his institute after he supported the faculty's opposition to the change in tenure policy. President's, VP, Dean and Chairs have no guarantee of their title.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:37 a.m.

Depend on how long the life is going to be.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:52 p.m.

Who hires and fires the General Counsel? Nuff said.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

They do not tell who does, I think that is President Coleman


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.

Just wondering: if any of those opposing this change have ever held a like position (president of a top 20 university)? Saying any university president "wants" to stay on that kind of job for life prompts the question: how does the claimant know this? "Sugar coating" is also a speculative statement and ignores that fact that the change would have been made to comply with the law regardless who or how old the current U of M president is. Compare the previous two presidents (reverse order: Bolinger and Duderstadt) to President Coleman. Which has overseen the biggest advances and the greatest crises? U of M, under Coleman, snapped its fingers and bought that multi-million dollar FAILURE of business at the corner of Huron Parkway and Plymouth Road. U of M, under Coleman, snapped its fingers and injected a quarter of a billion dollars into the construction industry for renovation of Michigan Stadium. U of M, under Coleman, snapped its fingers and spent another quarter billion dollars on student housing and hospital construction. President Coleman had to take over the crisis created by the Rodriguez Debacle and took responsibility for replacing (not so great) AD Martin with Dave Brandon - who then hired Brady Hoke - who THEN brought the Wolverines from 60th to 17th in national ranking. So tell us, critics, what's your beef?


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

1. "...bought that multi-million dollar FAILURE of business at the corner of Huron Parkway and Plymouth Road..." Is she going to turn it into a successful business? Having a bucket to catch public funding in is not the same as running a SUCCESSFUL business. 2. "...injected a quarter of a billion dollars into the construction industry for renovation of Michigan Stadium..." Martin's idea, not msc's. 3. "....quarter billion dollars on student housing and hospital construction..." The U-M has had construction projects in Ann Arbor since 1837. Now it's a sign of decisive executive leadership? 4. "...President Coleman had to take over the crisis created by the Rodriguez Debacle ..." She was president when Rodriguez was hired. "Crisis management" is not managing crisis created by your own poor decisions. If msc would have snapped her finger back in May a certain pediatrician would have been terminated. That's my beef. A definite sign of poor leadership. JoePa had to go, msc should go.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 12:20 p.m.

With respect to your first point...."president for life" is hyperbole. Surely you realize that? as to your comment that "President Coleman had to take over the crisis created by the Rodriguez Debacle" I can only say she helped create the crisis. It was widely reported that she was with Bill Martin on the ill fated trip to Toledo.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

I don't think that any modern UofM president has served more than two full, five-year terms. There is no way that MSC will still be president after July 2014.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:41 p.m.

I guess whatever Mary Sue wants, Mary Sue gets...

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

"Mandatory retirement is FIRING by any rational definition" No it isn't. They each have distinct definitions. Just as being laid off isn't the same thing as being fired. The notion that there are only two ways to lose a job "fired" or "quit" isn't true.


Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

Yeah, Mary Sue is the one who wrote the law that makes it illegal to FIRE somebody for reaching an age. Mandatory retirement is FIRING by any rational definition. They are taking away the job you had. If you do not like her policies that is fine to disagree, or maybe vote for a regent who would not renew her contract, but to fire somebody for reaching a certain age is discrimination on its face.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

"fired" is when they escort you out of the building with your little box of personal memorabilia. Then you apply for unemployment that caps out at around $375 a week . That would not in any way describe the "fate" of a 70 year old executive at mandatory retirement age. Your use of the word "fired' is an absolute insult to anyone who has actually been fired or otherwise let go.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Feb 17, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

there IS a difference between "fired" and mandatory retirement with a very cushy health and pension plan. If you have ever been fired you should know that.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

If what she wants is to not be illegally fired because of her age, then yes, she can have that.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

This was very predictable. The Regents can sugar coat this all they want about the abolishment not pertaining to Mary Sue Coleman. She wants to be President for life. Ok, maybe 5 or 6 more years. It would be nice to have term limits and maybe the Regents can take up this topic in 5 or 6 years or whenever MSC finally leaves the post. See ya in 2018.


Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

No opinions offered by the general counsel. Laying low?