The Michigan Daily - Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 3
Iowans say Coleman had challenging presidency
By Jeremy Berkowitz
Daily News Editor
Members of the University of Iowa community discussed
their views on President Mary Sue Coleman's tenure yesterday
with the knowledge that Coleman had accepted the position of
University of Michigan president.
Many said she was a strong president who fought a continu-
ous uphill battle with the state legislature's efforts to cut higher
education funding. But others said she played the role of an
understanding "weak" president, willing to listen to student
groups yet sometimes reluctant to take action.
"She just handled a lot of difficult situations really well"
Iowa Student Body President senior Nick Herbold said, noting
the school's financial problems. But he added, "I think that she
likes to hear student opinions with fireside chats. I don't think
that she receives activism very well."
Members of the student body, faculty and administration
agreed that Coleman faced many difficult obstacles over the
last few years, as the university received less funding from the
state. English Prof. Douglas Trevor said Coleman struggled
with her efforts to keep tuition low while trying to avoid con-
stant cuts in programs and faculty, as well as implementing
extra fundraising. He added that throughout the "continuous
revenue shortfalls;' Coleman remained dedicated to her cause.
"I'd say she's deeply committed to affordable public educa-
tion as opposed to the subtle privatization of public universities
by cutting the budgets and requiring tuition increases to offset
deficits;" Trevor said.
Iowa Regent Clark Kelly (Charles City) said she per-
formed wonderfully and fairly in all facets of her job
including her fundraising efforts and "wonderful empathy
"I don't know if women can hack some of these things, but
that sure wasn't the case with her," Kelly said. "Ann Arbor is
going to be very lucky and we're going to be very unhappy."
Coleman pushed during her time as president to improve
diversity among the student body and faculty. But History
Prof. Paul Greenough noted the difficulty in recruiting out-of-
staters into a mostly white state.
"It certainly is hard to persuade students to come from
places like Detroit to Iowa City,"
Iowa graduate student and Students Against Sweatshops
member Lauren Crosset said she felt the campus made efforts
to recruit minority students, but did not use resources to help
them when students came to campus. She said, for example,
that Iowa recently made plans to tear down two cultural cen-
ters that housed minority students and to place the students
who lived in them into residence halls, hence taking away a
part of their campus life.
"(The University is) good on recruitment but real crappy on
follow up," she said.
Students of different organizations on campus had a range
of feelings about Coleman's dealings with students. Crosset
said while Coleman always listened and kept students updated,
she was unwilling early in her tenure to negotiate with various
Crosset pointed out an incident two years ago when repre-
sentatives of SAS occupied President Coleman's office
because of her reluctance to address their concerns about con-
tracts the University held with companies that had numerous
labor violations. After three days and only one concession
made to students, five of the representatives were arrested and
"All the decisions at the University came down to President
Coleman at the end," Crosset said.
But Crosset said Coleman's relations with SAS improved
last year after she visited several Mexican factories with labor
violations with the Workers Rights Consortium. Crosset added
that a lot of work needs to be done in order for Coleman to act.
"I wouldn't say she's a progressive president, but she's
been more attuned to hearing what SAS has to say," Crosset
said. "I think that in order to get her to make progressive
steps ... you have to do a lot of behind the scenes work and
Herbold noted an increase in Iowa's actions to discourage
alcohol use among students. He said Iowa imposed an alcohol
ban in all fraternity houses five years ago after a pledge died
from an alcohol overdose. Also, there has been a recent cam-
paign to cut down on binge drinking. Starting in the fall, all
students under 21 who get arrested for alcohol violations on
campus will have letters sent home to their parents. Herbold
said it was a decision by many University administrators,
though Coleman had the final say.
"She probably would have had power to stop it if she want-
ed to;'he said.
But Herbold and Crosset said one of Coleman's problems at
Iowa are several administrators, particularly Vice President of
Student Services Philip Jones. Crosset claims Jones is very
"anti-student" and has had much say over Coleman in policies
"She's a good politician, but she's not someone who's going
to go out on her own and make a strong statement. In (those)
terms, I think you can describe her as weak," Crosset said. "I
will be really interested to see how she functions in Ann Arbor
with a more progressive and activist campus."
Overall, students, groups have great
expectations for Coleman's arrival
By Jennifer Misthal
Daily Staff Reporter
The news of University of Iowa president Mary
Sue Coleman's surprise election to the University of
Michigan presidency gave student groups a chance to
think about their future collaboration with the admin-
Michigan Student Assembly President Sarah Boot
said she looks forward to working with Coleman.
Boot attended yesterday's press conference and said
that Coleman appeared smart, energetic and warm
during her speech.
"Her credentials seem to fall in line really well
with the University," Boot said. "She has a Ph.D. in
biochemistry which I think will be really helpful
with the Life Sciences Initiative."
The regents' choice also received support from
the Greek community on campus. Joel Winston,
president of the Interfraternity Council, said the
Presidential Search Advisory Committee was a
competent group that chose the best available can-
"From everything I've come to learn about (Cole-
man), she's an excellent choice," Winston said.
While Iowa's fraternities do not allow alcohol at
parties, Winston does not anticipate any conflict
between the Greek community and Coleman's
"Alcohol-free was an initiative undertaken by the
Greek community at the University of Iowa after an
alcohol related death of a Greek student," Winston
"She understands the Greek community is vital
part of undergraduate experience. We have similar
policies to Iowa, but not to the extent of being dry.
We try to do everything we can to make social events
as safe as possible;' Winston added.
Students were not expecting the University's 13th
president to be a female and were surprised by Cole-
Boot said she expects Coleman will serve as a role
model for female students.
"I think it's really exciting we finally have a
woman president," Boot said. "I think it sends a mes-
sage that the University takes diversity seriously at
Coleman gained popularity at Iowa from her
monthly forums and weekly radio talks.
Both Winston and Boot said they consider open-
ness a necessary quality in a University president.
"It's excellent for students. It shows something
about the president we bring in," Winston said.
Winston also said interim President B. Joseph
White took the time to talk to students as well, using
direct input from students to help shape the future of
Boot said she thinks Coleman's work on diversity
task forces and as a member of the National Colle-
giate Athletic Association is also good preparation
for her presidency at the University.
"It's comforting to know she's already been presi-
dent of a Big Ten school" Boot said. "She can
improve herself as president here."
Students Organizing for Labor and Economic
Equality Coleman's feel Coleman's experience at
Iowa is an asset too.
"From what I understand, the University of Iowa
dealt very similarly with labor standards in the colle-
giate apparel industry as the University of Michigan
has;" SOLE steering committee member Jackie Bray
Bray said she hopes Coleman will work to
improve administrative relationships with student
"President Coleman is going to have to understand
that the University of Michigan is a leader in the
anti-sweatshop movement and students will not toler-
ate anything less from this new administration," Bray
said. "At one time this year, five sets of workers were
working without contracts and we fully expect Presi-
dent Coleman to ensure that doesn't happen again."
With the departure of White, Coleman's presiden-
cy will mark a new era for the University.
"It's sad to see (White) go but I'm excited to work
with Coleman. I would say it's bittersweet," Boot
Interim University President B. Joseph White looks out the window In his office in
the Fleming Administration Building while students in the Graduate Employees
Organization and Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality hold a
demonstration in support of the GEO during contract negotiations this spring.
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