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September 02, 2003 - Image 23

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-09-02

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Fall 2003


Only in the Daily
Daily has raised eyebrows, ire for 112 years

Reassessig the
a ge o 'r
ag oBollinger
Despite the swell atmospherics, when the University
celebrated its victory at the U.S Supreme Court on
June 23 there was something missing. It had noth-
ing to do with the substance of the court's decisions. The
missing element was much more nebulous than that - it
had something to do with style.
The missing piece could be found in the June 24 Wash-
ington Post. Lee Bollinger, former University president
and current top man at Columbia University, championed
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion in Grut-
ter v. Bollinger with a triumphant op-ed.
Lee Carroll Bollinger. The Oregon native who worked
his way to Columbia Law School and clerked for Chief
Justice Warren Burger. The man who made women swoon
with his boyish good looks, basking in the cult of youth. A
real live public intellectual.
His popularity stemmed from his keen sense for pub-
lic relations and his uniqueness in the blase pantheon of
contemporary university presidents. After Michigan beat
Ohio State in 1997 and clinched a trip to the Rose Bowl,
Bollinger opened the President's House to hordes of rev-
eling students, a ploy that instantly won him the
approval of the University community. Bollinger has
one character trait that is incredibly unusual for a mod-
ern university president: he is equally comfortable in the
ivory tower and the corridors of power. His courageous
testimony during Robert Bork's abortive confirmation
hearing for a spot on the Supreme Court illustrated
Bollinger's relevance to great national debates. Rumors
that Bollinger had his own aspirations for a seat on the
court were commonplace during his years in Ann Arbor.
His tenure as the poster boy for the cause of affirmative
action only added to his reputation as an arbiter of fun-
damental public policy issues.
While maintaining his Washington credentials, Bollinger
skillfully managed his bona fides as a serious academic
through teaching classes in the Law School and a wildly
popular undergraduate political science course. His ability
to walk the tightrope between these two spheres led some
to believe that Bollinger could be the reincarnation of the
nationally prominent university presidents of yore. From
James Conant Bryant to Robert Maynard Hutchins to
Woodrow Wilson, the presidents of the nation's major uni-
versities were some of the most important individuals in
the country and their institutions of higher learning were
the center of intellectual life. (The University had its own
spell in this spotlight during the early 1960s, when John
Kennedy, Robert McNamara and Lyndon Johnson all used
the Ann Arbor campus to propose major policy initiatives
like the Peace Corps and Great Society)
When Bollinger departed for New York, the col-
lective wisdom was that the University had
enjoyed five fat years under Bollinger's leader-
ship and with his departure lean years would soon be upon
us. In the emotional moments when students realized that
Bollinger was really leaving, a flush of positive words
marked his departure. But beneath these paeans of praise,
there were deservedly rancorous memories.
At the University, Bollinger mastered the black art
of triangulation where he used the technique to devas-
tating effect. He let students continue their sit-ins and,
as a result, avoided the public relations disaster that
would emerge out of cracking down on student protest-
ers. (Interestingly, current University President Mary
Sue Coleman allowed students to be arrested while
protesting at the University of Iowa.) Once they had
ended their sit-ins and the media spotlight had moved
on, Bollinger never made significant concessions. On
Michigamua, the University's apparel contracts and the
Code of Student Conduct, Bollinger outflanked inexpe-
rienced student activists while solidifying his reputa-
tion as a concerned leader willing to listen to the
complaints of students. Bollinger engaged in a never
ending dialogue with students that created the impres-
sion that he cared.
Bollinger's interest in long-term projects belied the
desire to secure a legacy for himself in Ann Arbor. His
overriding efforts to develop massive projects led to sev-
eral major failures which continue to haunt the Universi-
ty. The Walgreen Drama Center and Arthur Miller
Theater, which are now in limbo, were the most high-
profile disasters on this front. He argued the facility
ought to be "world-class" and the cost overruns and
delays have spiraled out of control due to that mandate.
In the past few years, the project has undergone a series
of proposed permutations from reducing its size to mov-

ing the site to North Campus.
Another disconcerting habit was Bollinger's penchant
for intellectual fads, the Life Sciences Institute being the
most notorious example. The University had to be
involved because biotechnology was the next "it" disci-
pline. By the divine fiat of Lee Bollinger, the University
was going to peg its future on biotech and that was that.
So what was the Bollinger presidency really about
and what lessons can we draw from it in the decidedly
unexciting, almost comatose reign of Mary Sue Cole-
man? It wasn't really about the University, it was
about Lee Bollinger. You take the showmanship and
you lose the substance. In the mind of Lee Carroll
Bollinger, we have been privileged to have been

The great debates of generations past have played out across this page. As have the
truly inane. From antiquated conflicts over the intricacies of dining hall policies
and the merits of co-ed residence halls to modern-day spats between University
professors and impassioned activists, the Daily's editorial page has served as a forum for
all manner of University discourse of the last 112 years.
For all the good lively debate does the community, this line of work does have its drawbacks.
Bygone Daily editors and opinion-makers have found themselves attacked by Michigan football
coach Bo Schembechler and hauled into jail by the Ann Arbor Police Department. May of 1962
saw a likeness of acting Daily City Editor Michael Harrah dangling from a tree over the Diag.
Harrah's offense? An opinion piece in which he declared students' eating habits slovenly and
vulgar. Although the times have changed, conspiratorial regents, University presidents and stu-
dent leaders have continued to single out the Daily as the source of all evil at the University.
At a University which has not always honored the freedom of speech and expression of its
students and faculty, the Daily has stood as the unequivocal champion of the voiceless. In the
1950s and early-60s, when the University instituted a crippling attack on academic inquiry - a
unilateral ban on academic speakers who were not affiliated with the University - the Daily's
editorial page exposed the administration as an enemy of the free exchange of ideas. It took
many years for the University to capitulate, but eventually the University was forced to yield to
the advance of free speech and thought.
More recently, when the University has reverted to sensational advertising and misinfor-
mation campaigns to stamp out University tradition, the Daily has been there to call the

bluff. University and Department of Public Safety public relations officials spent hours last
year trying - to no avail - to convince the Daily's editorial board not to present the Naked
Mile as something worth saving, not to dispute their depictions of the event as a life-threat-
ening pox on the entire community.
The Daily occupies a unique position in the collective University psyche; students,
administrators, staff and alumni alike feel a sense of ownership over the Daily, yet the
Daily belongs to no one. It is an editorially and financially independent institution with a
loud voice all its own. It thrives in the face of criticism, stands firm in its convictions and
speaks where others are content to remain silent.
Today, we affirm and uphold the ideals which have guided the Daily from its founding in
1890 to the present day. As the University reached its tryst with destiny at the U.S. Supreme
Court, the Daily's editorial page remained the one place where all students and faculty can
engage in critical discussion for public consumption.
Only in the Daily do the opinions of students and professors appear side by side,
fierce campus debates extend beyond Diag rallies and bright-pink quarter-sheets and
national issues become fraught with local significance. That is what makes the Daily
unique. That is what we are here to defend.
Aubrey Henretty
Zac Peskowitz
Editorial Page Editors
February 3, 2003

Not in Iowa anymore: Coleman's first year marked by indecision

As the first academic year of University
President Mary Sue Coleman's tenure
came to a close, she had yet to assert
herself as a prominent leader during a contro-
versial period in University history. She had
yet to demonstrate an ability to effectively lead
the University in a clear and exciting manner.
Since ascending to her post, Coleman has
shown a disturbing lack of involvement in stu-
dent affairs, managing to remain remarkably
absent from students' lives. To take an active
role in the University, a president needs to
make a conscious effort to have her presence
felt around the campus. Throughout the year,
she has been absent from student functions
and is rarely seen around the campus.
From the beginning of her tenure, she has
shown a reluctance to interact with students at
close proximity. She has declined to teach a
course this year, a highly-valued tradition that
kept past University presidents and adminis-
trators in close contact with students. Further-
more, Coleman has closed off the usual
avenues of student-president contact of the
past. For example, the fireside chats and cof-
fee hours that allowed concerned students to
inform the current president of student issues
at the University are now often invitation only.
When student groups do approach her,
Coleman has not made an effort to address
their concerns in a prompt and effective

sentatives from the United Needletrade,
Industrial and Textile Employees, asked
Coleman to terminate all University con-
tracts with Morgan due to their mistreatment
of workers, Coleman was vague and indeci-
sive in her response. While former interim
President B. Joseph White promptly cut the
University's contract with the New Era
Cap Co. last year in order to pressure
New Era to negotiate pay and condi-
tions with their employees, Coleman
merely agreed not to renew their long-
term contracts, leaving herself a loop-
hole to stay invested in Morgan
through short-term ones.4
The incident concerning Mor-
gan also illustrates Coleman's
reluctance to take decisive
action. Her response to the the
conflict was to create a task-
force to recommend a new
purchasing policy. While task-
forces can help shed light on;
important issues and to find
possible solutions, they are
not a solution in and of them- Mary Sue Colt
selves. If any real action does
come out of the committee, it is likely to be
long overdue.
oleman's failure to take decisive

enhancing the University's intellectual atmos-
phere. This failure to address the pressing
issues of the day is enough to make students
long for the days when university presidents
across the country were intellectual giants pur-
suing ambitious goals. Unlike these leaders,
such as Princeton University President
Woodrow Wilson, Coleman seems
intent on avoiding controversy that
would challenge both faculty and
students. The University president
should touch the hearts and minds
of the students who will soon take
their places on the world's stage,
steering the country into the future.
his hesitancy is fur-
ther evident in Cole-
man's inability to
become a voice for the Uni-
versity across the country and
the world. The affirmative
action lawsuits provided her
with many opportunities to raise
her national stature. She has been
nan unsuccessful in this arena. Coleman
has never made a television appear-
ance to defend the University's position on
the affirmative action lawsuits. The most
important step she took to garner media
attention for the cause was to submit an opin-

When the University regents selected Cole-
man to be the next president, they were taking
a historic action, as Coleman is one of only a
few women heading an elite university. This
provided Coleman with the unique opportuni-
ty to achieve national stature. She remains,
however, unknown around the country. Brown
University President Ruth Simmons, in com-
parison, has instantly rocketed to national
prominence. She has spoken at the National
Press Club; has been on "60 Minutes" and has
made appearances at prominent national
events. On the other hand, despite the afore-
mentioned opportunities, Coleman is not
regarded as a dynamic leader.
M ost importantly, Coleman has not
clearly outlined her ideas for the
future of the University. After her
first year as president, there remains no sig-
nificant proposals with which to identify
Coleman. Some of the blame for this lies in
Coleman's failure to fill key administrative
posts. For example, after her first academic
year, there remained no permanent dean for
the College of Literature Science and the Arts
nor an executive vice president for medical
affairs. Coleman will not be able to plan a
future for the University with so many holes
in her team.
But the blame for Coleman's dearth of ideas
cannot be attribu1te~d to emntv or only temn-




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