- Todd Needle/Daily
By Kyle Swanson, Daily News Editor
Published November 18, 2010
FLINT, Mich. — The University’s Board of Regents voted unanimously yesterday here to approve a motion extending University President Mary Sue Coleman’s contract for an additional two years.
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Coleman's current contract with the University was scheduled to end in July 2012, but the two-year extension approved yesterday means Coleman will serve through July 2014. Coleman joined the University in 2002 after serving as the president of the University of Iowa.
The motion to extend Coleman’s contract was made by Board of Regents Chair Julia Darlow (D–Ann Arbor), who read a statement in support of the action.
“Throughout her service to the University, President Coleman has performed to extraordinarily high standards and has gained extraordinarily wide recognition for her excellence,” Darlow said. “President Coleman has kept our focus firmly on our mission, and we have achieved outstanding accomplishments on global, national and local levels. For the entire University community, she has preserved and strengthened our balance, our direction and our self-confidence.”
Coleman’s compensation package will remain the same in her new contract, though the Board of Regents will continue to evaluate her pay each year for possible merit increases, Darlow said.
“(Coleman’s salary) will continue to be reviewed annually by the Board and any increases will be set at the discretion of the Board, taking into consideration performance and other relevant factors as we did at our last Board meeting in October,” Darlow said during the meeting.
However, the contract does add an additional $100,000 to Coleman’s deferred compensation package for the current contract year and the remaining years on her new contract. However, because it is deferred compensation, Coleman will not receive the money until she retires.
“The amendment is designed to build a substantial contribution to her retirement over the remainder of her term,” Darlow said of Coleman. “Certainly, she has earned it.”
As part of the contract, the Board of Regents laid out seven primary goals for Coleman to address over the remaining years of her contract.
Among them, the regents have asked Coleman to continue strengthening the University’s academic mission and developing financial policies that will preserve the fiscal health of the University.
During her tenure at the University, Coleman worked with other University officials to eliminate $135 million in recurring costs from the general fund budget in order to reallocate money to higher priority projects. Additionally, Coleman has called for an additional $100 million to be eliminated from the budget by 2012 and another $120 million by 2017.
At the same time, Coleman led a faculty hiring initiative aimed at increasing the number of interdisciplinary faculty and programs at the University. Coleman allocated enough money in the University’s budget for the current year to hire an additional 50 junior faculty members.
The regents also requested that Coleman work to improve campus facilities like student housing and to grow and strengthen the University of Michigan Health System. In addition, they asked that Coleman create a leadership plan that includes developing strong candidates for leadership positions throughout the University.
Coleman spearheaded phase one of a residence life initiative that led to the renovation of several residence halls on campus. Officials in the administration have told The Michigan Daily that the second phase of the project is currently being planned.
Additionally, Coleman played a major role in planning and overseeing the construction of the new C.S. Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, which is set to open in November 2011 — a year ahead of schedule.
Coleman is also to develop plans for the University's next capital campaign. The last University-wide capital campaign ended in 2008 under Coleman’s leadership, when the University set an all-time record for the most money raised in a single capital campaign by a public university — $3.2 billion.
Coleman’s early career at the University is often defined by her role in the two admissions lawsuits that went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, less than one year after Coleman took over. The case forced the University to modify it’s undergraduate admissions criteria, which gave additional points to underrepresented minority applicants in a numerical evaluation process, but reinforced a process used by the University’s Law School where ethnicity was one of many factors considered in admissions.
Speaking at the meeting after her contract extension was approved, Coleman thanked the regents and executive officers for their support.
"I can't imagine working with a better group of people," Coleman said. "I look forward to the next four years. It's been a great experience and it's going to be a great experience going forward."
In an interview following the meeting, Coleman echoed that sentiment, saying the University is the best place she’s ever had the privilege to work.
“I love this place and I love the work I’m doing and the fact that I can do it for an additional two years is terrific,” Coleman said.
Asked whether she planned to retire after her new contract ended in July 2014, Coleman said she hasn’t made any final decisions yet.
“I don’t know what I’m doing yet,” Coleman said of her retirement. “I think for me, I’m very excited for the next four years.”
In an interview following yesterday’s meeting, Ora Pescovitz, the University’s executive vice president for medical affairs, said she was “delighted” and “thrilled” that Coleman will be leading the University for another four years.
“It’s great news for the entire faculty and staff of the University,” Pescovitz said.
University Provost Philip Hanlon echoed Pescovitz’s sentiment in a separate interview after yesterday’s meeting.
“I’m thrilled,” Hanlon said of Coleman’s contract extension. “She’s a president at the top of her game and I’m privileged to be able to work for her and watch her in action and learn from her.”
Hanlon added, “She’s an outstanding leader for the University.”
Other University officials, including Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R–Ann Arbor) and E. Royster Harper, vice president for student affairs, said they were also extremely pleased with the contract extension.
“She’s just a dream boss,” Harper said in an interview. “The leadership she’s providing is phenomenal.”