University President Mary Sue Coleman is thinking ahead. Far ahead.

Jessica Boullion
University President Mary Sue Coleman spoke about her vision for the University in 2017. (RODRIGO GAYA/Daily)
Jessica Boullion
University President Mary Sue Coleman delivers the annual state of the University address to the Senate Assembly yesterday afternoon in the Senate Ampitheatre. She announced a program for the University to match donations to need-based scholarships. (RODR

During her annual State of the University address yesterday afternoon in Rackham Ampitheatre, Coleman said she is readying the University for its 200th birthday in 2017.

She asked the Senate Assembly and other faculty in attendance to consider how their efforts will position the University for its bicentennial.

During her address, Coleman outlined several new initiatives.

Most notably, she announced the two-part President’s Challenge Fund, which will be paid for with Coleman’s discretionary spending. In the first part, Coleman will match all donations to need-based scholarships dollar-for-dollar. Secondly, the fund will be used to create more endowed professorships.

If all goes right, the plan will strengthen the quality of faculty and direct more donations toward need-based aid.

Coleman said she does not want lower-and middle-class students to be discouraged from applying because of rising tuition prices.

“It’s on the top of the minds of our donors,” Coleman said.

Earlier this month, Coleman began matching donations for need-based scholarships at the Ann Arbor campus. Donors give either directly to a specific school or through the Office of Financial Aid.

The initiative will match one-time contributions up to $1 million but does not have a total dollar limit, said Judith Malcolm, director of communications and donor relations.

“It’s a way a double your donation,” Malcolm said.

The initiative will run until December of next year, when Coleman will decide whether or not to renew the program.

The initiative is expected to create up to 20 endowed professorships, Coleman said.

Most endowed professorships cost a minimum of $2 million over a period of several years, Malcolm said. Once $1 million is raised, the University can begin filling the position.

The University will use the fund to match the first $500,000 donated toward an endowed professorship, effectively beginning the professorship. That’s effectively a 25-percent discount for a named professorship, Coleman joked.

Coleman has committed up to $10 million from the fund to matching the endowment contributions.

The University has already filled three professorships under the program, Malcolm said.

Coleman also announced the creation of the President’s Advisory Committee on Public Art to coincide with the 2007 academic year theme semester “Arts on Earth.”

James Steward, director of the University Art Museum, will lead the committee, which is charged with bringing more public art to campus.

After the speech, Coleman briefly answered audience questions on topics ranging from curbing rising college costs to the University’s role in the state economy to Michigan Stadium renovations.

Coleman on …

Alumni who say they want to improve Michigan Stadium but really don’t it to change:
“And they say, ‘By the way, don’t touch it.’ “

University of California at Berkeley’s recent budget cuts:
“I don’t want us to get into that spiral.”

Possible increases in state funding to the University:
“I have not seen any indication from the state that they will step up to the plate.”

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