It has been a week of pride, celebration and reflection here at PRG as we mark tremendous contributions to higher education from two of our own.
Mary Sue Coleman is concluding her historic service as interim president, returning last February to lead the University of Michigan through crisis. (She stepped away from her work as a PRG senior adviser to return to the University during this time.) Earlier in the week I joined former colleagues and friends on campus for a reception to thank her for her wise and steady guidance during a time of tremendous need, enabling the University community to re-center and re-focus on its values. As I watched her strong and compassionate leadership, I thought often of author James Tobin’s description of great universities: “The institution is the purpose made permanent.” Mary Sue helped the institution she loves so dearly remember that, too.
At Mary Sue’s final board meeting on September 22nd, the University’s Regents and leadership team surprised Royster Harper — UM’s Vice President for Student Life Emerita and now a PRG senior adviser — with the announcement the university will name its next residence hall after her: Harper Hall. Never was a recognition more well deserved. Julie and I had the privilege of working alongside Royster at Michigan for many years, and know first-hand the depth of her commitment to students and their well-being, and the wisdom with which she guided Student Life as Vice President for almost 20 years.
It will be the first building named after a Black woman at the University of Michigan, her alma mater.
Today Steve, Julie and I benefit from the incredible perspective Royster brings to our PRG work, and to our clients’ success. Her experience, knowledge, empathy, and commitment to core values of respect and inclusion help us all focus on what really matters.
And that’s the thing. As I reflect on the tremendous dedication and commitment these two leaders have demonstrated in the course of their incredible careers, I know that Mary Sue and Royster are difference-makers. They share deeply held guiding principles: do the right thing, and focus on doing what matters most –with integrity, intelligence, passion, and unwavering purpose.
We could not be prouder of them.
P.S. Mary Sue hopes to return to PRG when she concludes her service at Michigan, and we cannot wait to welcome her back.
PHOTO: Mary Sue Coleman, Lisa Rudgers and PRG Senior Advisers Royster Harper and Cynthia Wilbanks visit “PRG HQ North” — Lisa’s office space in northern Michigan.