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Updated 5:15 PM November 6, 2008




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Coleman named Humanitarian of the Year

For her work advocating the educational value of affirmative action and diverse perspectives in the classroom, President Mary Sue Coleman has received a Humanitarian of the Year award.

Former Regent David Brandon presents President Mary Sue Coleman with the Humanitarian of the Year award on behalf of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. (Photo by Martin Vloet, U-M Photo Services)

The honor was presented Nov. 6 by the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion during its 61st annual Humanitarian Tribute at Cobo Hall in Detroit. The crowd of more than 500 business and community leaders rose to its feet twice to applaud Coleman’s work.

Coleman called the honor an “endorsement of our work as a university.”

“At Michigan, we are dedicated to building a student body that is an exciting and interesting mix of young men and women who each contribute unique ideas and perspectives to our university,” Coleman said. “By bringing together students of different backgrounds and different experiences, we create an intellectual environment that is unmatched in higher education, and we produce alumni who are better prepared to make a difference in all aspects of our society.”

Also honored were the Rev. Daniel Krichbaum, chief operating officer for the State of Michigan and former president and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable, who received a Humanitarian of the Year award; and Heaster Wheeler, executive director of the NAACP Detroit Chapter, who received the William Beckham Jr. Community Service Award.
All three honorees spoke of the historic election of Barack Obama as the country’s first African-American president, with Coleman citing the role of young voters in endorsing the Illinois senator.

“That so many young people embrace a leader with such a rich ethnic and racial heritage makes me very hopeful about our country,” she said. “It also demonstrates the importance of diversity on our college campuses, because this is where students learn to engage with people unlike themselves, often for the first time in their lives.”

Presenting the award to Coleman was former Regent David Brandon.

Roundtable organizers said they are fortunate to honor three Michigan leaders in the collective struggle to build sustainable communities through diversity and inclusion.
“Mary Sue Coleman’s national leadership on affirmative action in university education … exemplif(ies) the leadership needed for Michigan’s revival,” said Thomas Costello, president and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable.

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