I was serving as student body president in late 2001 when President Lee C. Bollinger announced his departure for the presidency of Columbia University, and was proud to be appointed as a member of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee that recommended the hiring of President Mary Sue Coleman in 2002.
As a junior on campus, that experience was very personally fulfilling and contributed to my future success. To be in a room with approximately 15 other faculty, alumni and staff — and to be treated as an equal member of that conversation both by them and the candidates we considered — was an experience that has prepared me for counseling and interacting with those much more senior than me, both during my time as M&A counsel with a law firm and now as Senior Counsel to Dow Corning Corporation. That experience and lesson is what the University of Michigan — in a nutshell — is all about to me.
I was surprised to learn that the PSAC recently announced and charged with recommending a replacement for President Coleman does not include a student similarly situated. What has changed between 2001 and today to make the students’ voice less important in the process this time? In an era when rising tuition, increasing revenue-generating pressure and decreasing state funds are conspiring to make public universities about many more things than “just” student education, reminding the candidates who will interview for the presidency of the University of Michigan that students are at least one of their stakeholders seems more important than ever.
This decision, unfortunately, sends the opposite message. I urge the Board of Regents (three of whom were on the board in 2001) to reconsider this decision and appoint a current student to the PSAC.
Matt Nolan is a 2003 LSA graduate and a 2006 Law School graduate.