Dr. Mary Sue Coleman
President, Association of American Universities
At the 11th Annual Thomas Willis Lambeth Distinguished Lecture in Public Policy held on Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. in 100 Hamilton Hall, Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities spoke on the topic, “The Educated Citizenry: An Endangered Species?” Her inspiring talk had a simple message: “the value of research and importance of higher education as a public good.”
The Association of American Universities was founded in 1900 to promote strong programs of academic research, scholarship, and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education. Its members include 62 of the leading universities in the United States and Canada, of varying sizes and missions. Dr. Coleman has been president of the AAU since May 2016; she previously served as president of the University of Michigan (2002-2014), as president of the University of Iowa (1995-2002), as provost of the University of New Mexico (1993-1995), and as associate provost and dean of research and then vice chancellor for graduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill (1990-1993). She earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Grinnell College and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1969.
Dr. Coleman has been a national leader in higher education. At the University of Michigan, she oversaw the groundbreaking partnership with Google to digitize the University’s 7 million volume library, launched institutional partnerships with universities in China, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, and India, revitalized student living and learning experiences through a residential life initiative, and worked tirelessly to promote economic revitalization and innovation within the state of Michigan. In 2010 she helped launch President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke named her as co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Throughout her career, she has promoted the educational value of diverse perspectives in the classroom and within the academic community, and she has worked in numerous venues to improve access to higher education for all.
For her leadership in higher education, Time magazine named her one of the nation’s “10 best college presidents.” The American Council on Education honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014; the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion honored her as Humanitarian of the Year; and the Michigan Women’s Foundation presented her with its Trillium Lifetime Achievement Award; seven institutions have awarded her honorary doctorates, including Notre Dame University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, Grinnell College, Dartmouth College, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Coleman is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In those roles, she has led major studies on the consequences of lack of health insurance within the U.S. and the erosion of state and federal support for the nation’s public research.