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Week of September 30, 2013

Presidential search forums draw wide campus interest

The university’s next president should further boost diversity and make sure legislators know that more support for U-M will help the state compete in the global economy.

Those were among themes repeated in comments from among nearly 100 faculty and staff attending a noon forum Sept.26. The Board of Regents and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee convened the forum to gather input on the qualities desired in the next U-M president.

President Mary Sue Coleman has announced she will conclude her tenure as president in July 2014.

The first of two such public meetings Sept. 26 the forum in the Law School’s Honigman Auditorium drew attendees representing a wide range of schools, units and the U-M Health System.

Another session took place that evening in the Modern Languages Building, primarily designed to gather student input.

“It’s a challenge maintaining diversity, inclusion and making sure that, as education gets more and more expensive, opportunities are still available to a wide variety of students. That will be a major challenge coming up,” Jeff Harrold, academic standards adviser in LSA, said at the noon session.

James Logan, program outreach coordinator in the Stephen M. Ross School of Business, said the next president should consider that U-M, in close proximity to Detroit, could be a leader to build underrepresented minority enrollment.

“I think it’s very important that the president be engaged and help the Legislature understand the value of education,” said Eric Bell, associate professor of astronomy. He said the next president must articulate to legislators the value of a well-educated Michigan work force, in competing globally for jobs.

Kim Kearfott, professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences, biomedical Engineering and radiology, said, “We need a charismatic visionary,” someone fully tenured at another university who has maintained a connection to a faculty job or research, and to students.

Regent Katherine White, who is coordinating the campus forums on behalf of the Board of Regents, said she was encouraged by the range of university interests represented at the forum.

“There were people from all different departments. I just thought it was very informative, and accomplished what we’re trying to accomplish,” she said.

At the Law School session, Bill Schultz, professor of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics, said the new president should consider that the independence of various schools presents a real challenge when it comes to promoting collaboration.

Nancy Kelly, an administrative assistant senior with Revenue Cycle Education, Development & Quality Management, represented Voices of the Staff at the forum. She said VOICES has provided staff an opportunity for engagement, and added the group hopes the new president will maintain that.

During the forum for students, more than 20 of the nearly 100 students who attended offered their priorities for the next U-M president.

Affordability and access for all students were the focus of many students who addressed regents and members of the search advisory committee.

Dan Green, a senior from Detroit, said he has gotten used to being the only black student in many of his classes, but emphasized, “this needs to change.” He said he knows many Detroit students who are qualified to attend, but “they don’t feel like they have access to U-M.”

Those unable to attend can comment by email through Sept. 30 at More information about the search process, the official job description and periodic updates will be posted on the presidential search website:


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