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4 - The MichDaiiy - Tuesday, Apri 2#96
I genuinely any looking forward to July 1 witi no regrets. None at all.
A look back at
8 years of the
When President James Duderstadt walks
away from the Fleming Administra
tion Building on June 30, he will take
with him 2,860 days as the leader of one of the
world's most complex universities.
But along with the much-lauded accomplish-
ments of his term, Duderstadt leaves behind a
record interspersed with controversy and tumult.
From the creation of the Department of Public
Safety to the implementation of the Code of Stu-
dent Conduct, the Duderstadt administration has, at
times, fanned the flames of student anger.
After nearly eight years in whathe once winkingly
referred to as "Duderstadt's inferno," the president
says he is prepared to embrace civic life with open
"I genuinely am looking forward to July 1 with
no regrets," Duderstadt said. "None at all."
Duderstadt said he has completed all of his initial
"There is always a question of what you can
accomplish as you stay on," he said. "All that we'd
originally set out to accomplish, we'd accomplished.
"You have to decide at what time do you declare
Racking up "a sleep debt" from a constant sched-
ule full of activity, the outgoing president said it is
an appropriate time to step down.
Duderstadt said university presidents often fear
they will burn out and lose the love they have for
But this president said he is lucky.
"(Anne and I) are stepping out of this role with as
much love and loyalty for this university as we have
ever had," he said.
Duderstadt said his presidency was heavily in-
fluenced by his background as an engineer.
"It is a characteristic of my particular discipline
... to invent the future," he said. "It was my role to
develop a vision of the future and position the
University to move into that future."
Duderstadt, who will be remembered by many as
"the visionary," said that is precisely the mark he
wants to leave.
"If I were to picka president in the history of the
University, I would hope I'm remembered more
like Tappan, as someone who has planted the seeds for a new type
of institution," Duderstadt said.
"I hope my role has been to develop a new sense of what the
University is and what it can become."
Duderstadt's term has seen an ambitious investment in technol-
ogy-related initiatives and major renovation projects around Cen-
But the presidency has not come without costs.
Duderstadt said the hiring process he underwent in 1987 and
1988 took a grueling toll, which lingered throughout his term.
"It is difficult to be an internal candidate," he said. "I am not sure
I would go through it again."
Duderstadt said he became "the calibration point" for all the other
presidential possibilities, leaving him open to criticism.
He noted how rare it is for presidents of major universities to
spend their entire academic life at a single institution.
But he said he has wondered what his career would have been
like if he had been the president of another university instead.
"My wife and I are very satisfied in what we have been able to
accomplish," Duderstadt said. "Maybe we would have done it at
Duderstadt said one of the toughest parts of the job was being
under constant scrutiny.
"I can't live or breathe without being on the front page of the
paper for one thing or another," he said.
He made newspapers' front pages when he defended the necessity
to create the Code of Student Conduct and the implementation of the
Department of Public Safety. While conceding that these were not
projects he "particularly enjoyed,"he said it was essential to bring the
University in line with the rest of the country's major schools.
These two initiatives were much-discussed among students, many
of whom have said Duderstadt is too isolated from the student body.
"I haven't had enough time to deal with students on a one-to-one
basis," Duderstadt admitted. "I am like a mayor of a city of 70,000.
It's understandable that in a large city, many citizens don't get to
meet the mayor."
Duderstadt added, enough how impor-
however, that relations DMhgan M at tant and fragile these
between the administra- University Roles: Nov. 1990 - The Washtenaw County are," he said.
tion and students im- 1969 - Assistant professor of Sheriff's Office deputizes the During his presi-
proved over his term and engineering campus police force dency, Duderstadt de-
that dialogue betweenthe 1981 - Dean of Engineering A pril 1994 --Agenda for Women fended the University
two groups is now less 1986 - Provost Summer 1994 - inteal audit shows to national and state
confrontational. 198' -Acting president and provost communication department politicians who often
Duderstadt said a trou- 1988- -Presi dent endowment funds misspent wanted to cut funding.
bling weaknesswasanin- While President: Nov. 1995 - Regents adopt the Code Last year, the Uni-
ability to relay the impor- Sept. 1988 -- Duderstadt unve is of Student Conduct versity faced the threat
tance of higher education ofreduced funds from
to the massmedia and the the state because of
test of society.. the increased number ofout-of-state students, which caused tension
"It is difficult to persuade the public, elected public officials and between the University and other state schools that received greater
the media that higher education in America is this nation's most funding.
precious resource," Duderstadt said. Now, Duderstadt says the institutions are working with a greater
"1 worry enormously that we have not been able to articulate well spirit of cooperation.
"It is terribly important to work with alliances. You have to
work with other universities in Michigan," he said. "If you get
into a competitive situation and it becomes a football game, it is
game nobody will win."
Duderstadt said his ability to be a "harvester" brought many
accomplished professors and administrators to the University.
"I have been able to attract some extraordinary people to join
me," he said. "I am not the most creative person. What I am good
at is attracting good people."
Despite his admitted weariness, Duderstadt said he may some-
day lead another institution.
"I am at an age where most people first become president," he
said. "I can't rule out never leading an institution again. But not
in the near future."
But Duderstadt said he will always be a part of the University,
even after his presidency ends July 1.
"We're Michigan," Duderstadt said. "This place has as much
of us in it as we have of it in us."