Coleman meets and greets at annual open house

Teresa Mathew/Daily
A student meets University President Mary Sue Coleman during her annual open house on Thursday. Buy this photo

By Paige Pearcy, Daily News Editory
Published September 13, 2012

The white house nestled between the Clement’s Library and Tappan Hall on South University Avenue may seem out of place to newer students, but it’s not long before they discover it as the University President Mary Sue Coleman’s home.

On Thursday, students of all ages and from all disciplines flocked to Coleman’s annual open house for the chance to mingle with the president.

Before meeting Coleman, E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, greeted students entering Coleman’s home.

“I love the fact that our president says this is my house, this is your house, come meet me, come see me, and that she will stay here the entire time in heels,” Harper said.

Coleman stood at the back of the house where hundreds of students waited to talk with her individually and take pictures.

“I think it’s important for students who would like to see the house to come in and see it,” Coleman said. “There are two groups that I really enjoy: the new students coming either for their undergraduates or graduate studies — their first time in Ann Arbor — and then I love for the seniors to come because it’s the last year.”

Coleman said she looks forward to the open house every year as a way to get to know the students.

“People always tell me great things, and I’m excited to hear about what people are studying and where they’re from, so I get a lot of enjoyment out of this,” Coleman said.

Harper added that having the open house serves as a way to unite campus.

“I think that it’s real easy for this to just be a place, rather than a community, and so I think that anytime we can open up our home and our hearts to each other that it makes us a different kind of community,” Harper said.

Inside the President’s House, students could roam the rooms on the main floor, sign Coleman’s guest book and munch on cookies and fruit while sipping apple cider.

CSG President Manish Parikh, a Business senior, said it was his first time visiting Coleman’s house.

“I think this event is really important because it sends out a strong signal to every student on campus that their president, Mary Sue Coleman, is there for them and an extremely warm and kind lady,” Parikh said. “I think she’d win a poll for the coolest university president.”

In the house’s library, sisters Amber and Brianna Campbell pointed to the wood floor and laughed together, saying it was the same as their grandmother’s.

Amber, an LSA freshman, said she came to the event after hearing about it at new student convocation and asked her older sister to come with her.

“It reminds me of the White House,” Brianna, an LSA sophomore, said. “It’s really cozy and neat and clean and just pretty.”