At the University's Board of Regents meeting Thursday, University President Mary Sue Coleman announced her intention to retire after her term expires in July 2014 without seeking a contract extension.
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“Leading the University of Michigan is the most challenging and rewarding work of my career. It's a tremendous privilege and one that continuously energizes me,” she said at the meeting.
Coleman began her tenure as the University’s 13th president in August 2002, succeeding Lee Bollinger, now president of Columbia University. Her successor will be chosen by the Board of Regents, which has already been preparing for her long-expected retirement.
Coleman is the fourth-longest serving president in the history of the University, and the first president to serve more than a decade since Robben Fleming’s regular appointment ended in 1979.
After receiving her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Grinnell College in Iowa, she received a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of North Carolina. Coleman served as the director of a cancer research center at the University of Kentucky for 20 years before serving as president of the University of Iowa for seven years.
“The University of Michigan deserves the best in a leader, and I want to give the Board of Regents ample time to select the next president,” Coleman said in a statement.
In an interview after the meeting, Coleman said she has no plans to decelerate her busy schedule during the remaining 15 months on the job. She will continue to engage other donors throughout the alumni community.
“I love to listen and I have this great group of people around me that helped me create the vision and I really try to translate the vision and help people understand when they’ve given a big gift, it will be the happiest day of (their) lives,” Coleman said.
In addition, Coleman said she will focus on completing other renovations and implementing a strategic plan for health-care changes.
“We just have a lot of work to do, and I’m going to be excited by that work and not slowed down for a second,” Coleman said.
University Provost Phil Hanlon praised Coleman’s efforts during her tenure at the University — citing her work to improve academic quality, increase international reputation and recognition, grow the application pool, reduce costs for students with need and oversee the most successful capital campaign in University history as evidence of leaving a legacy with the University.
“It’s just really amazing what she’s done just as a friend and a mentor,” Hanlon said. “I’ve learned so much from her. She’s been a terrific leader.”
Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R) echoed Hanlon’s positive statements, praising Coleman’s ability to keep the University thriving and prosperous during harsh economic times with decreased state appropriation and federal support.
“This University is doing phenomenally under her leadership,” Newman said. “This is a huge, huge loss, you know, but it’s her decision.”
Her tenure at the University has faced a number of challenges — foremost building a new budget model in the face of declining state revenues. State support for the University of Michigan has declined from around 35 percent of the University’s budget in 2002 to less than 17 percent this year.