|Coleman demonstrates the Michigan map with her hand (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)|
U-Ms new leader then proceeded to pull products like Vernors ginger ale, a toy automobile, Sanders dessert topping and a Motown CD from a bag to demonstrate that she is familiar with the regions many claims to fame. All kidding aside, Coleman later showed that she had done her homework about U-M as well, spouting student population figures, reciting recent triumphs for womens athletics and acknowledging important current issues, from the development of the Life Sciences Initiative to the Ed Martin basketball scandal.
Announcing Coleman as the search committees finalist, Regent Laurence B. Deitch said it was her combination of skills, accomplishments and personality that won over the board and the 16-member search advisory committee. He said Coleman is viewed as warm, charming, smart and tough.
There was a gut feeling that this was someone who would be comfortable to work with, Deitch said. Her record of accomplishment speaks for itself, but it gets down to that gut feeling.
Gilbert Omenn, executive vice president for medical affairs, echoed Deitchs sentiment. I think Dr. Coleman not only is an outstanding scientist, which will be very helpful given the initiatives on this campus, but shes had broad experience as a university president, Omenn said. She has an effervescent personality and I think she will be wonderful.
We believe she will prove to be one of the great leaders in Michigans history, Deitch said.
In naming Coleman, U-M regents already established one aspect of her place in history. She is the first woman president of the 185-year-old University. But Coleman doesnt want gender to define her new role. Being a university president is a very tough job and its a stressful job. And its equally stressful for men and women. The new president prefers to have her appointment relay the message that young men and women can aspire to anything they want to do.
This is a thrill of lifetime, Coleman said. I have to tell you when I called my 88-year-old mother yesterdayshe lives in Coloradoshe cried. And she understood what it meant to be named president of the University of Michigan, one of the very greatest public universities in the country.
During a press conference that followed the special regents meeting, Coleman talked briefly about priorities for the University but stopped short of announcing major plans.
Its a little early to say anything about new directions, she said. But she did offer insights about current programs at the University, including: