University President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman has been named president of the Association of American Universities.
The appointment is effective June 1. Coleman succeeds Hunter Rawlings III, who led the organization since 2011 and announced his plans to retire from the post in May.
“Hunter Rawlings has done an exceptional job as AAU president in advancing our collective impact as research institutions,” Coleman wrote in a statement. “I am eager to continue the work of elevating the American research university as essential to our nation’s prosperity, security, and well-being.”
An association of more than 60 research universities in the United States and Canada, the nonprofit AAU focuses on policy studies and federal-government relations in areas such as research policy and research funding. For example, the AAU released the results last week from a national survey designed to study sexual assault on college campuses.
The University was one of the AAU’s founding members when the association formed in 1900.
“No one better understands the challenges and opportunities facing higher education than Mary Sue Coleman,” University President Mark Schlissel wrote in a statement released Tuesday afternoon. “I deeply appreciate her willingness to take on this crucial role for our nation, and I look forward to continuing to work with her.”
Coleman served as the University’s 13th president until her retirement in 2014. She’s no stranger to the national stage when it comes to higher education policy. During her tenure at the University, she served as AAU chair from 2011 to 2012 and was appointed to co-chair the Obama administration’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. A biochemist by training, Coleman was also selected last fall to serve on the board of the Mayo Clinic.
According to Barry Toiv, the AAU vice president for public affairs, the position will be based in Washington D.C. Toiv said the AAU president frequently interacts with the presidents and chancellors of AAU member institutions and organizes their twice-yearly meetings in Washington D.C.
“The day-to-day job is mainly about coordinating and participating in the work of the AAU staff, which focuses on advocating with Congress, the Administration, and the public on such issues as support for federally funded research, federal research policy, support for federal student aid programs, and higher education policy,” Toiv wrote in an e-mail interview.
Toiv said the AAU is not releasing details about Coleman’s compensation for the new position at this time.
Rep. Debbie Dingell (D—Dearborn) applauded the appointment in a statement released Tuesday.
“The Association of American Universities can have no better leader than Mary Sue Coleman,” she wrote. “She understands the importance of promoting equal access to education and how research universities are engines that propel our economy by supporting top talent and innovative ideas. She will be an effective advocate for students and will work tirelessly to expand the reach and capabilities of our research universities, which are vital to America’s success.”