The search is on for a new UM president

By SAMANTHA BELCHER, News Editor

Samantha Belcher/ MJ

Members from the University of Michigan Board of Regents and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee met with UM-Dearborn staff and students on Friday to discuss their search for a new university president.

A few months ago, current President Mary Sue Coleman announced her retirement effective July 2014. Since the announcement, the Board and Committee have been looking for her replacement and searching the area to get the opinions of the University of Michigan community.

“…That’s why we’re here today,” said Katherine White, Vice Chair of the Board of Regents, “To listen to this community regarding selection of the next President of the University of Michigan and the qualities, experiences, and values that this community is interested in seeing in that President.”

Four Board of Regents members, including Katherine White, Denise Ilitch, Shauna Ryder Diggs, and Julia Donovan Darlow, along with two Presidential Search Advisory Committee members, Alec Gallimore and Jeffery MacKie-Mason, represented the panel during the forum discussion in Dearborn.

Before hearing from the audience, Regent White described how the presidential selection process takes place. The Board of Regents is the only body to elect the new president after the Presidential Search Advisory Committee conducts interviews and chooses candidates for the Board to vote for.

“We (Board of Regents) are very confident these exceptional members will help us select the new president,” Regent White added.

The Board also takes into consideration the views of the UM community from the forums hosted at the Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn campuses.

The panel started the forum by asking the audience to answer various questions: what opportunities and challenges are ahead for the UM community, what would the audience like the new president to accomplish in one year or in five years, and what characteristics would people like to see in a new president.

The majority of the audience expressed a need to help the lack of collaboration between all three campuses.

“One of the things that I hope for in a new president is that he or she will very much see this as one university and not a system,” one audience member said, “…with one university we can very much learn more collaboratively.”

Kristin McDonough, UM-Dearborn Greek Life Coordinator, said all three campuses should work together, but also remember why they are all special.

“I think one of our greatest challenges and opportunities is something about this whole concept of coming across as one campus and understanding and working together, McDonough added, “but also not losing our identity as the Dearborn campus as being the Michigan degree in a slightly different way.”

Some attendees gave examples of how the campuses could work together. One audience member said all three communities could collaborate on campus projects.

“…Initiatives going on in Ann Arbor, like the Mobility Center, it’s not clear to me that all three campuses are given an opportunity to contribute to that effort,” she said.

McDonough said she would like to see more UM-Dearborn faculty, staff, and students recognized for their accomplishments.

“I think they (the new president) can work on helping all three campuses maintain Michigan excellence in education and all new ways to be collaborative and innovated,” McDonough added.

Another audience member added that the whole UM community could give more recognition to the Flint and Dearborn campuses.
“I feel a little bit as if the Dearborn and the Flint campuses have sometimes been pushed away. And then when there is a research discovery or an excellent internship that has been performed at the Dearborn campus they (Ann Arbor) publish it…” he said.

He added by saying it is so important for the University of Michigan to be inclusionary of all campuses.

When discussing the characteristics of a new president, some attendees said he or she should have a commitment to diversity and be a progressive visionary.

Another audience member said most presidential searches find candidates who are outside of the higher education industry.

“I would like to advocate the serious consideration of a new president who has a solid background in higher education as a scholar,” she said.