Mary Sue Coleman

Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast on affirmative action

Mary Sue Coleman's inauguration as president of the University was held last Friday in Ann Arbor. She assumed the presidency last August.

Before being named president at Michigan, Ms. Coleman served as president of the University of Iowa where she was also a professor of biochemistry and biological sciences.

She also has held impressive posts at the University of New Mexico, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Kentucky.

She is a graduate of Grinnell College and has a PhD from the University of North Carolina.

On the stakes as the Supreme Court hears challenges April 1 to the use of affirmative action at the University's law school and undergraduate college:

"Research has proven the profound educational benefits that come from a diverse classroom and a diverse campus.... There is no effective substitute [for] affirmative action to achieve that diversity.

On the need for diversity:

"It is amazing to me. Most students coming to Michigan ... have never interacted with a person of another race in their schools or in their towns. We are in the process of introducing people to each other in a way we find enormously gratifying educationally."

On the consequences if the court rules against the university:

"I believe we will be turning back the clock in a way that will be devastating to this country - and not only to higher education but to many segments of the society."

On Bush administration policy on educational diversity:

"I was very pleased when the president supported diversity in higher education. Where we disagree was the way to get there and we do not believe the plans in Texas, and California and Florida will work at the University of Michigan or will work for any highly selective institution that recruits nationally in this country."

On the biggest problems she faces at the University:

"I am always worried about being able to get enough in the way of resources to realize the aspirations.... [and making] sure we can have those aspirations become real."

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