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January 19, 2006 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-01-19

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COURTESY OF MARY SUE COLEMAN
At college graduation, Mary Sue and Kenneth were two months away from marriage.

COLEMAN
Continued from page 101B
speech, that is why she has focused on build-
ing partnerships with China. It is also one
of the reasons she thinks the Dearborn and
Flint campuses are so important - they fur-
ther connect the University to the state and
directly help its residents.
She discussed the Michigan in Wash-
ington program and the University's new
Detroit Center in her September address,
both of which expand the University's pres-
ence geographically. The University has also
launched a Spanish version of its website.
Another major focus of her administra-
tion has been technology transfer, the pro-
cess of moving ideas from the University
to the private sector - an idea originally
floated by the University's first president,
Henry Tappan, who, in the mid-19th cen-
tury, promoted the idea that the Universi-
ty's knowledge should serve society.
Then there's the Google project to digi-
tize the University's entire library collec-
tion and put it online, a controversial idea
Coleman has been eager to defend publicly
- in part by writing an opinion piece in
The Washington Post - possibly because
one of Google's founders is an alum. She
has grounded her support of the project in
her belief that the University's knowledge
should be available to the public.
Accessibility. Coleman has worked hard
to increase the economic and racial diver-
sity on campus through financial aid and
her support of affirmative action. She has
also driven around the state to tell students
from underrepresented backgrounds that
they are welcome and wanted at the Uni-
versity. She believes the University should
be open to anyone who works hard enough
to get in, not just to those who can afford
the high tuition price.
As Chamberlin pointed out, these areas
are all historic strengths for the Univer-
sity, not wild pet ideas that Coleman has.
And they all revolve around the dissemina-
tion of knowledge and information and an
emphasis on openness and transparency.

ourant gave me his view
of the Harvard admissions
process. He said histori-
cally, the admissions office
has asked the question: "Is
this a Harvard man?" when
evaluating applicants. That
strategy historically led to a homogenous
and elite student body.
One hundred years ago, elite university
presidents tried to mold young minds and
teach valuable moral lessons to the nation's
future leaders. The system was more aristo-
cratic and less meritocratic than it is now.
I asked Coleman about that era. She said
that during that time, it was important for
university presidents to speak about the
great moral issues of the day. But the G.I.
Bill led to a more diverse student body and
larger universities that are more represen-
tative of the country and the states in which
they are situated, she told me. Universities
are more complicated now, and the job of
a university president has grown.
As a scientist and a woman, Mary Sue Cole-
man represents the increasing diversity on col-
lege campuses. Regent Maynard told me it is
important for the University to avoid being an
ivory tower. Instead, it should be integrated into
the world around it. Coleman not only represents
the change in universities and in university pres-
idents that took place in the 20th century, but, as
Maynard points out, the idea that the University
should not be walled off from the world.
"She is hopelessly Midwestern," Charles
Eisendrath said. He meant that as a com-
pliment. He said he likes the Iowa part of
her and doesn't like it when the University
pretends to be Harvard.
It is not Harvard, it will never be Harvard
and it shouldn't try to be Harvard. Its mission
is far broader than Harvard's. The University
has a tradition of academic excellence, but it
also has a tradition of service to the people
of Michigan and to society at large. Unlike
many Ivy League schools, there is no gate
surrounding our campus.
Because she recognizes that, Mary Sue
Coleman may be the quintessential Uni-
versity of Michigan president.

PETER SCHOTTENFELS/Daily
Coleman joins in on the fun at the all-night Dance Marathon event last year.

12B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 19, 2006

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