President Mary Sue Coleman has laid out her top priorities for the University of Michigan’s coming months as she returns to lead the institution for a second time.
“I am truly heartened by the outpouring of support from our community and the shared desire to move forward as a university committed to learning, scholarship, health care and public service,” Coleman said in a Jan. 27 email message to the U-M community.
The Board of Regents chose Coleman — U-M’s president from 2002-14 — to fill the presidency on an interim basis while it conducts a presidential search. The board removed former president Mark Schlissel on Jan. 15 for what it determined was an inappropriate relationship with a university employee, and appointed Coleman the same day.
“I’ve heard many questions about what lies ahead, and I want to share my priorities for the coming months,” Coleman said. “First, we will work to begin rebuilding trust.
“The regents and I share a profound commitment to ensure that each member of the community can thrive in a safe, welcoming, supportive environment. Your well-being as students, staff and scholars is of utmost importance to me. I hope, too, we will pledge to respect one another, listen to one another, and to care for one another.”
Another focus will be on choosing the university’s top two leaders — not only the next president, but also a new provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, who is the university’s chief academic and budgetary officer.
Susan M. Collins, who was named provost in July 2020 after serving several months in an acting and then interim capacity, will return to the faculty when her appointment concludes June 30.
Coleman said the regents will soon announce their plans for a presidential search, and that she is engaging in the work to identify the next provost.
Finally, Coleman said she is “deeply attentive to the success of Michigan’s broad academic portfolio,” which includes academic excellence, research and creative endeavors, and patient care.
“I will work with you to advance the most critical agendas and initiatives in each of these areas over the next several months, to ensure continued strength and momentum,” Coleman said.
She and Collins will continue to work with the Campus Health Response Committee to steer U-M through the COVID-19 pandemic. She said she supports the current plan for an in-person winter term, “which is based on sound academic reasoning and prudent public health measures, and I appreciate the efforts of so many to make the semester successful.”
Coleman concluded by saying she has “complete confidence in the executive team and leadership across all three campuses” and that U-M’s future is bright and limitless.
“I see everyone in our schools, colleges and units using their talents to carry out our mission of serving the world around us. I care very deeply about this university, and it is an honor to work beside you,” she said. “Our foundation of excellence will inspire and guide us as we move forward.”