After a mere 100 days, University President Mary Sue Coleman has reduced the gap between students and herself and plans to continue to expand upon available opportunities in order to enrich the already thriving University community.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the people here,” she said. “They’re just really good people.”
Although she gives credit to the talented and friendly staff she works with, Coleman said it is her previous experience that has allowed her to assimilate so quickly into her role as president. After working as president of the University of Iowa for seven years, she said she understands that complicated situations will inevitably arise, but said she has learned to confront these challenges.
“I look at them as great opportunities too,” Coleman said, adding it is important not to let current problems impact future success.
She said she is constantly trying to increase her awareness of pressing issues facing students. Coleman said she combines this willingness to listen with an ability to determine the right time to act in a way that facilitates resolution.
“It’s always a challenge, but I love doing it and will continue to do it,” she said.
Coleman said she tries to recruit new faculty members, to listen to the interests of student groups and to raise money in order to enhance the undergraduate experience.
“Almost everything I do is ultimately for the benefit of students,” Coleman said. She has made an effort to attend campus events in order to support students and learn more about the University community, she said. Coleman added she believes it is important not only to be a visible figure on campus, but also to maintain a presence across the state so that people in Michigan know more about the University and have reasons to support it.
“It’s so positive for our entire environment,” she said. “This is a real decentralized place.”
She said her role as president demands that she maintain a stable educational environment, but she admits that the strength of the University stems from the accomplishments of the students. “It’s exciting to me to see this energy,” Coleman said. “Students here are so engaged.”
She said it is the students’ interests in a range of areas, including world issues, that set them apart from students attending other universities.
The main difference between the University of Iowa and the University of Michigan, Coleman said, is the increased size of Michigan’s student body, which provides additional complexity.
In the future, she said she hopes to encourage students to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them at the University. But if the student body continues to do what it has always done, Coleman said, it will remain on a path toward success.