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U of M takes another step toward choosing next president

Bentley Library

The University of Michigan's board of regents named seven faculty members this week to serve on a presidential search committee.

The current U of M president, Mary Sue Coleman, will retire next year.

The faculty members will serve in addition to the eight regents.

The search committee looks very different than it did in 2002, when Coleman was selected. Then, the search committee was more diverse. Besides faculty, the committee included a custodial supervisor, the head of the U of M Alumni Association, and two undergraduate students.

The lack of student representation on the current search committee did not go without criticism. 

"No one has a greater stake in the next University of Michigan president than the students," Michael Proppe told the regents. Proppe is president of the U of M Central Student Government. "We learn here, we will receive our degrees from here, and we will carry with us the memories and experience and legacy for our entire lives. And so it is so important to get that student perspective in choosing who that next leader of this university will be."

Regents assured Proppe that student input would be actively sought. Regent Laurence B. Deitch issued this statement in response to the question why students were not included in the search committee:

The board spent considerable time thinking through how best to get input from our various stakeholders, and so have assured that through a range of mechanisms. The Presidential Search Advisory Committee will seek input from students, staff and our Flint and Dearborn campuses, as well as other stakeholder groups such as alumni and the public. That input will come through public meetings, and through the open nominating process through the web site. The board believes that in choosing these seven distinguished faculty and academic leaders, the emphasis and priorities of the University as a preeminent research and teaching university are most underscored. They felt great confidence that these exceptional faculty members would be well-suited to conduct a broad, vigorous search and recommend a pool of candidates to be considered by the Board. This will be done with the assistance of Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the leading executive recruiting firms in the world.

Mary Sue Coleman is the university's 13th president, and the first woman to hold the position.

A history of presidents of the University of Michigan can be read here.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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