The University Record, November 14, 1996

Bollinger will be 12th president of the University

Photo of Bollenger meeting with U-M Deans.

Bollinger met with old friends and made new acquaintances at the reception in his honor Nov. 12. Pictured are, from left, Bollinger, Dean of the School of Public Health Noreen Clark and College of Pharmacy Dean Emeritus Ara Paul.
Photo By Bob Kalmbach

By Rebecca A. Doyle

Lee C. Bollinger was formally elected the 12th president of the University at a special meeting of the Regents Nov. 12. He expects to begin his term in February or March, he told reporters afterward.

Contract terms were agreed upon Monday afternoon. Bollinger will receive a first-year salary of $275,000 with annual performance review by the Regents, and a five-year initial appointment.

In addition, the Bollingers will live in the President's House on South University. He will receive an academic administrative benefits package (the same as he had when he was dean of the Law School), moving and transition expense, and a tenured position at the Law School. He plans to teach an LS&A class in freedom of the press and the First Amendment and may also teach a seminar.

Accepting the position, Bollinger quoted 18th century British political theorist Edmund Burke on his philosophy of the progression toward love of country and of mankind. "'To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections,'" he quoted. "Burke's idea of the spiraling importance of affections, beginning with our feelings toward our 'platoon' makes our love for Michigan intelligible and consequential, a matter of public service." Photo of Bollinger

"This is one of the most exciting moments in my professional life," Bollinger told reporters.

Bollinger said that he felt the occasion was a time in his life when he saw "more clearly and more deeply into the truth of things," and that he hoped it was the same for the University. "We ought to make every effort to hold on to this clarity of understanding, as the daily cares will inevitably threaten to overwhelm us in the years ahead," he added.

To illustrate that point and also highlight his contention that public universities tend to be overly modest about the scholars, poets and other famous alumni, he used Robert Frost's poem "Spring Pools," composed in Ann Arbor.

"Just after the last snow has melted, the poem says, small pools of water form and, in the still leafless forests, they reflect 'the total sky almost without defect,'" Bollinger quoted. "Such near-perfect vision, however, is fleeting, for the trees `have it in their pent-up buds/To darken nature and be summer woods . . .' The roots will 'blot out and drink up and sweep away' these momentary pools of sight."

Bollinger said that he wanted to think of this time as his "spring pool" and to say to the "burdens and cares of the years ahead, `Let them think twice before they use their powers' . . . 'to bring dark foliage on.' "

Asked by the press what his position was on affirmative action, what his general goals for the University were and whether the process by which the U-M chose him as president helped or hurt his chances, Bollinger kept the forests leafless as he answered that he was not willing to state positions on those things until later, and that he was not the person to answer some of those questions.

He did tell members of the press that he and his wife, Jean, will live in the President's House, that a sense of the U-M and its history were important, that he sensed a loss of vitality in relations between the U-M and the city of Ann Arbor, and that he agreed with the principle of VCM (Value Centered Management) and what former provost Gilbert R. Whitaker Jr. was trying to do with the model.

"This is one of the most exciting moments in my professional life," Bollinger said. "I don't know that it has that high a status in my emotional lifebut it's up there.

"But then you look at things realistically," he continued, "and realize that there were many other people qualified for the job. I'm just lucky that the stars have aligned themselves in the way that they have."