Eight years, three months and three days after presiding over what was to be her final Board of Regents meeting, University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman was once again saying goodbye to the institution she described as “such a special place.”
Coleman’s remarks at the outset of Thursday’s regents meeting — her last before stepping down next month — touched on her appreciation for the support she has received as the institution’s top leader, as well as her optimism for the future.
“It has been an honor to be able to step in during a difficult time for the university,” Coleman said. “I want to thank the members of the board for your confidence in me. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the executive officers at this table for their support and counsel. They are the best in higher education.”
The board appointed Coleman — who first served as U-M’s president from 2002-14 — to fill the presidency following their vote to remove former president Mark Schlissel on Jan. 15. Coleman agreed to serve in the role until U-M conducted a presidential search and a new president was on the job.
President-elect Santa J. Ono, the president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia, will become U-M’s 15th president on Oct. 14.
“I feel very good knowing that Dr. Ono will have such a dedicated governing board and talented leadership team when he begins,” Coleman said.
“I also want to thank my husband, Ken, who is here with us. I could not do this work without him. I couldn’t have done it before, and I couldn’t have done it this time. Michigan will always be special to us, and we’re profoundly grateful for the experiences and opportunities you have given us.”
“So thank you, and forever Go Blue,” she added.
Board of Regents Chair Paul W. Brown praised Coleman for returning to U-M when she was most needed and leading with “grace, humility, and an unfaltering love for this institution.”
“The board turned to President Coleman at a tremendously difficult time with a tremendously difficult challenge — to restore integrity and confidence in the administration of this university,” Brown said.
“Under your leadership our momentum in regard to key initiatives never slowed. In fact, the university’s systemic effort to address sexual misconduct has made significant progress.”
During the meeting, Brown shared that the board will award Coleman an honorary degree at Spring Commencement.
Michigan Athletics also announced this week that Mary Sue and Ken Coleman will serve as honorary game captains during the Homecoming football game Saturday against the University of Maryland.
“We owe you a debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay,” Regent Jordan B. Acker told Coleman during the meeting. “This university was really indebted to you for your years here as the permanent president, and your legacy here over the last nine months will live on for decades beyond this, so thank you again for everything.”