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Coleman, husband to donate $1 million towards global scholarships

Erin Kirkland/Daily
University President Mary Sue Coleman speaks at the annual leadership breakfast on Tuesday. Buy this photo

By Jennifer Calfas, Daily Staff Reporter
and Sam Gringlas, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 7, 2013

Following recent donations by University alums Stephen Ross and Charles Munger, University President Mary Sue Coleman announced Tuesday that she and her husband will donate $1 million toward global scholarships.

As part of the Victors for Michigan campaign set to launch Nov. 8, the donation will be awarded to undergraduate and graduate students to fund international study, internships and service work, among other opportunities abroad.

Coleman announced the gift at her annual Leadership Breakfast Tuesday, where she spoke on the University’s accomplishments and upcoming initiatives. The event marks her last State of the University speech as she prepares for an announced July 2014 retirement.

In a University press release Tuesday, Coleman said she hopes to provide more students with the opportunity to travel abroad, “experience other cultures firsthand, seek solutions to world problems and learn to thrive in a dynamic global environment.”

Together, Coleman and her husband, Kenneth Coleman, a political scientist, have contributed $1.79 million during her tenure — totaling more than any University president’s contributions before her. The two took advantage of study-abroad opportunities while in their undergraduate and graduate programs.

Coleman traveled throughout Europe for three months as an undergraduate — an experience that “changed my outlook about myself and what I wanted to do with my life,” she said in the release.

Coleman said she hopes her donation will provide study abroad opportunities for those not previously able to do so.

“What intrigues us so much about education today is the rich variety of international experiences with which students may engage,” Coleman said in the release.

The Colemans’ interest in supporting global engagement for University students isn’t a new endeavor. Previously, the Colemans have donated $25,000 to create the Mary Sue Coleman and Kenneth M. Coleman Student Global Experience Fund, supporting the President’s Challenge for the Student Global Experience. The challenge proposed to provide a match to each endowment gift to study abroad programs, which included a $1-million donation from Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou in 2012. The gift was matched with $250,000.

For the past few years, Coleman has donated salary increases above her base pay scale back to the University. She has typically donated to financial-aid programs, specifically scholarship funds supporting global engagement through study abroad programs. In 2012, Coleman donated what would have been a merit pay increase of 3 percent, or $17,574 on her $585,783 salary.

“I’m perfectly well compensated,” Coleman said.

In 2007, 2011 and 2012 Coleman’s salary increases were entirely donated back to the University in the form of study-abroad scholarships.

In an interview with The Michigan Daily in 2011, S. Martin Taylor, a former University regent, said he was not surprised by Coleman’s consistent donations.

“Her willingness to give back to the University has been there since the beginning,” Taylor said.

While Coleman’s donation serves as a parting gift to the institution she has lead for more than a decade, it may also influence potential donors considering giving during the next capital campaign.

Campaign organizers have said financial aid would be the top priority of the Victors for Michigan campaign.