Julie, Steve and I are delighted to share the news that University of Michigan President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman has returned to Peterson Rudgers Group as Senior Advisor. Mary Sue has concluded her historic service at Michigan, coming back to the university to serve as interim president for nine months during a time of great need.
Recently, she and I were talking about how rewarding and yet oh-so-challenging the role of college president is today. Institutional demands are titanic, higher education as a sector is in the midst of substantial disruption, and political dynamics have become especially fraught.
But Mary Sue has always been focused on the principle our firm is founded on: We believe in the power of higher education to advance the world’s knowledge and generate incredible public impact. The world needs colleges and universities to be vibrant and laser-focused on their mission to educate, to discover, and to serve the communities and states in which they are rooted. Strong presidential leadership is critical to advancing higher education’s core purpose and its positive outcomes for society.
“The roadmap for a successful presidency is not always a clear one, especially now,” Mary Sue said when we talked. “I want to support these leaders, especially those taking on new roles and those who are navigating important strategic decisions for their institutions.”
Mary Sue will serve as advisor and coach for a select number of higher education presidents, boards and other senior leaders, working with them to provide outside perspective and insights from her own presidential experience (at the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, and the Association of American Universities). In addition, she will team with me, Julie, Steve and PRG’s other two senior advisors, Royster Harper and Cynthia Wilbanks, for larger scale institutional initiatives.
I served as Mary Sue’s Vice President for Global Communications and Strategic Initiatives during her presidency at Michigan. Julie and I planned and implemented the public announcement of her appointment in 2002, and I led the communications planning for her retirement and legacy in 2013. There is not a person I admire more in higher education, or beyond. It is such a great pleasure to welcome her back.