Officials at Eastern Michigan University announced last week that a top attorney for the University of Michigan will be heading to EMU to take over as the school’s general counsel.

Gloria Hage, who will begin her appointment on Monday, will join the EMU executive team after an 18-year run at the University of Michigan. She is leaving her current position as associate vice president and deputy general counsel in the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel, a position she has held since 2003.

“I have learned a lot during my time here and I feel very fortunate to have been able to serve the University for the 18 years that I have,” Hage said of her time at the University.

Suellyn Scarnecchia, vice president and general counsel at the University and Hage’s boss, said the University was supportive of Hage’s endeavor, despite that it means her office will be losing a great colleague.

“It’s a terrific career move for her,” Scarnecchia said. “I knew that Eastern Michigan was looking for a new general counsel and it makes perfect sense that they are hiring Gloria because she is so talented, a great leader, very talented attorney and she has really helped to build the strength of our office and so she will bring all of those experiences with her to Eastern.”

University President Mary Sue Coleman echoed Scarnecchia’s sentiment, saying while she will miss Hage, she is excited for the opportunity Hage will have at EMU.

“I really regret that she’s going because she’s been just such a wonderful person to have at the University, but EMU is really lucky,” Coleman said in an interview earlier this month. “They’re getting someone who is extremely knowledgeable and I’m thrilled she has that opportunity, but I’ll really miss her.”

Hage – who earned both her bachelor’s degree in English literature and her juris doctorate from the University — described her decision to move to Eastern as “the opportunity to move to a great school, be a general counsel at a real good school.”

According to Eastern University spokesperson Walter Kraft, Hage’s responsibilities as general counsel will include overseeing the University’s entire legal department and all its legal activities.

“I am delighted to welcome Gloria as a critical addition to the Eastern Michigan University leadership team,” Eastern Michigan University President Susan Martin said in a press release. “Gloria has an outstanding reputation in the education and legal community, and we know she will make a strong contribution.”

Hage’s new appointment came following an extensive search by Eastern Michigan’s Executive Council, a team comprised of presidential cabinet members and other University administration officials. The search was prompted by an announcement made in November that Eastern Michigan’s current General Counsel Ken McKanders — who has served EMU since 1987 — would be leaving effective February 28, 2010.

In the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel at the University, Hage’s primary role has been managing the legal affairs of the University with a special focus on employment law and staff benefits. In her capacity as deputy general counsel, Hage advised the University on legal issues affecting its schools and colleges, the University of Michigan Health System and regional and off-site facilities.

Hage’s role at the University leaves big shoes to fill, and according to Scarnecchia, the Office of the General Counsel has already begun its search for a replacement.

“It’s a loss for us, but we have a lot of talent in this office and I will be appointing a new deputy general counsel from within most likely,” Scarnecchia said. “I’m going through that process right now and then we’ll probably hire a new staff attorney to take over some of the substantive legal work that Gloria had in her area of responsibility.”

Despite the loss, officials from both schools agreed the strong relationship between the University of Michigan and EMU would yield opportunities for Hage to work with her former colleagues again in the future.

“The universities are in alignment,” Kraft said. “It also helps us to have someone who is from the area, familiar with this region, certainly familiar with Michigan and the issues that Michigan faces.”

Scarnecchia agreed, adding that she’s pleased Hage will still be “a neighbor down the road” at EMU.

“I think there’ll be a lot of back and forth phone calls between the University of Michigan and Eastern at least for a while,” Scarnecchia said.

Hage said she’s also looking forward to continuing to work with her University of Michigan colleagues.

“I anticipate that there will be many opportunities to collaborate with the University of Michigan and the other public universities in the state in the future,” she said.

Prior to serving as Associate Vice President and Deputy General Counsel, Hage served as interim vice president and general counsel before Scarnecchia was hired about two years ago. Hage has also served in the role of assistant general counsel for the University and as interim chief human resources officer in 2004.

Before coming to the University in 1992, Hage was an associate attorney at Butzel Long, a law firm with offices throughout Michigan and in Washington, D.C. and New York.

— Daily News Editor Kyle Swanson contributed to this report.

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