100%

Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue

Share

Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

April 22, 2014 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-04-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

~Ijc Lid jian .04aitg
The Michigan DailyI michigandailycomI Tuesday, April 22, 2014

a
M 1
u,
rr .,..r.
'rwrrr'F ...
.N uM.
I
im I

r

7 lp

_
Ilk
Ait

GOODBYE, MARygU
ILLUSTRATION BY ALICIA KOVALCHECK
For today, goodbye. For tomorrow,
good luck. And forever, 'Go Blue.'

After twelve years
at the helm, the 'U's
fourth longest serving
leader passes the torch
By SAM GRINGLAS
Daily News Editor
For a brief moment last month,
Mary Sue Coleman couldn't find
her words.
After a year marked by lifetime
achievement awards, honorary
degrees and goodbye receptions,
it was a Monday afternoon in the
Michigan Union when Coleman's
voice noticeably wavered under
the weight of oncoming tears.
Coleman - who has been the
University's most influential
voice for the past 12 years - will
retire from the presidency in
July as the institution's fourth
longest-serving leader.
For months, Coleman's depar-
ture has been tangible, especially
within her inner circle. Col-
leagues in the Office of the Presi-
dent have noted each "last time"
since September.

In March, a group of students
decided to turn her fireside chat
- a tradition Coleman started
as president at the University of
Iowa - into a makeshift surprise
party.
Students, too, were thinking
about the end. At an event usu-
ally built around students having
the chance to ask their president
anything, many wanted to know
about legacy and what's next.
Laughing, Coleman's hands
sprung into motion, her small
frame inching to the edge of her
armchair. The questions didn't
faze her.
But before dozens of students
spent nearly 30 minutes past the
event's official conclusion wait-
ing to snap selfies with "Mary
Sue," the Midnight Blue student
a Capella group gathered in the
back of the Pendleton Room, set
up to serenade the outgoing pres-
ident with a song celebrating her
impact on students.
And then, for a second, the
almost always-composed Presi-
dent of the University of Michi-
gan struggled to find her words.
"That was the most I've seen
her choked up. And I think it

goes back to why students are
so important to her," said Kim
Clarke, Coleman's nine-year vet-
eran speechwriter. "When I've
seen her light up the most, it's
when talking about students.
That's where you see the energy."
Opening up
By the time four o'clock rolls
around on the day of a fireside
chat, it's the part of the afternoon
when energy runs low and the
rhythm grows sluggish. Clarke
said Coleman sometimes bristles
when it's time to walk past the
Cube and across Regents Plaza to
the Michigan Union.
But an hour later, in the com-
pany of a few dozen students,
"she's all amped up," Clarke said.
Perhaps Coleman's fireside
chats represent a larger philoso-
phy of the Coleman presidency
- one that many of Coleman's
closest advisers have said is root-
ed in inclusiveness and driven by
students.
"It's been the most wonder-
ful experience in my life and
it's largely because of students,"
Coleman said from her seat at the

March fireside chat. "The stu-
dents at Michigan are extraordi-
narily engaged in much of the life
of the institution and that makes
it a very exciting place to be. The
students have made allithe differ-
ence."
Erika Hrabec, the Office of the
President's chief administrator
and the president's key aide, said
she is frequently surprised by
how much Coleman remembers
about people, even those with
whom she's had seemingly lim-
ited interaction.
"She has a true interest in peo-
ple," Hrabec said. "Her style is
one of inclusiveness."
Hrabec, who serves as the
gatekeeper for commitments that
make it on to the presidential cal-
endar, said Coleman frequently
stops to hobnob with students
and staff, even if it means run-
ning a few minutes late to the
next meeting.
While habits like these may be
rooted in Coleman's passion for
people, she has also wielded her
interests not only to work donors,
open access to the school's
library resources in partnership
with Google and trumpet the

University's mission across the
country and the world, but also
to make far-reaching decisions.
"She really is interested in
what people think at all levels,"
Hrabec said. "She welcomes
input. She has a superb leader-
ship team and they are there for
a reason. She has to rely on other
people. She can't carry the Uni-
versity entirely."
Gary Krenz, special council
to the president, who frequently
staffed for Coleman at meetings
of the University's executive
officers, said from the beginning
she was intent on developing her
right-hand administrators to
function in ateam dynamic.
"There's a lot of exchange of
ideas - and she's in the fray," he
said. "Sometimes I think there
are leaders who build the team
and then they kind of step back
and listen. That's not her style
so much. She's engaged in the
discussion and providing her
own views. I think what's fas-
cinating is that all works very
well. She developed a team that
knew when she was expressing
her views in that kind of a set-
ting - that didn't mean that was

her decision or the final word - it
meant they were all in it together
trying to think this through out
loud."
But when it comes to tackling
a new issue orinitiative, Coleman
is not the president who tosses
around big ideas and leaves oth-
ers to figure out their imple-
mentation. While Hrabec said
Coleman provides leeway for
her staff to carry out the projects
they've been entrusted with, she
is not one to ignore the mechan-
ics of moving a task forward.
"She's a very goal-oriented
person and she's a get it done
kind of person," Krenz said.
"She conceives of things often in
terms of seeing the path of how
to get from here to there. Other
people I've worked for are more
conceptual - they have the idea
but they're not as specific on the
process. She has the processwith
the goal in mind."
If Coleman's student-friendly
persona and tendency toward
teambuilding are driven by open-
ness, her emphasis on the Uni-
versity's own accessibility may
have been formed with similar
See COLEMAN, Page 7B

1 1

I

I

i

Back to Top

© 2020 Regents of the University of Michigan