Remarks by Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D. on his appointment as U-M president
I am both excited and greatly honored to have been selected to succeed Mary Sue Coleman as the 14th president of the University of Michigan. My motivation as an academic leader stems from a personal belief that understanding and discovery can change the world and that education is the key to achieving social equity and economic progress. I see these ideas woven through the fabric of the university. As a great public university, Michigan is all about improving the world through research and education. Put another way, we’re here to make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren.
I will bring to Michigan a fierce commitment to the importance of public research universities, a strong and personal belief in the ability of education to transform lives, and the understanding that academic excellence and diversity are inextricably linked. The University of Michigan is a place where the most talented students, regardless of economic or social background, come for an outstanding education. It’s a place where great scholars work to achieve new levels of understanding of the world we share and pursue discovery for the public good. And there is no public university better suited for this crucial endeavor than the University of Michigan.
Michigan’s breadth of excellence affords it a unique opportunity to help address society’s most important challenges in the years ahead. Challenges in areas such as energy, environment, health, economic disparities, trans-cultural understanding, global development, equity and justice, and the protection of free speech and creative expression. Michigan can capture unique synergies between the arts, humanities, engineering, science, law, business, medicine and public health, public policy, design … this list goes on and on and our capacity seems endless. The university’s nearly 200-year history, its distinguished faculty and steady stream of gifted students, and its strong culture of interdisciplinary collaboration allow us to tackle the toughest long-term problems for the public good.
Although I see Michigan as one of our nation’s strongest research institutions, what lies at its core is the education of talented and diverse students from around the state, nation and world. I believe that it’s the synergy between research and teaching that makes a university great. Students get to learn from faculty who are actively defining the leading edge of human knowledge and curiosity. And the imagination and energy of our students contribute in turn to the research enterprise. My own life and career were forever altered by the opportunity to do biology lab research as an undergraduate at Princeton, and the relationship I developed with my faculty mentor. I will work hard to find ways to learn how students feel about their Michigan education and to involve them in key decisions that affect their experience here. I recognize that education at Michigan extends well beyond the classroom as members of our diverse community of teachers and students learn from one another. Therefore, I am committed to doing my best to make all members of our academic community feel equally welcomed and included.
I look forward to working with the more than 3,000 outstanding faculty at the university and will be honored to be counted amongst their ranks. Faculty define the strength of a university and share responsibility for its governance. We will work together. Similarly, I know from my years in leadership positions at UC-Berkeley and Brown that faculty, students and campus leaders cannot be successful without the assistance and creativity of capable, committed and energetic staff.
I also look forward to enjoying Ann Arbor’s vibrant artistic and cultural life, as well as helping cheer on our world-class athletes as they represent Michigan on the courts, arenas and playing fields of the campus and around the country.
I recognize that the university has tremendous economic and social impact on the community of Ann Arbor and the State of Michigan. The university’s success is linked to the health of our local community and the economic strength of the state. I fully appreciate that one role of the university is to be a good neighbor in Ann Arbor, and an economic engine for the state and we’ll continue to do so.
Some ‘thank yous.’ We all owe gratitude to President Mary Sue Coleman for her outstanding and continuing stewardship of the university for more than 11 years. She’s led the institution through an extremely challenging decade leaving Michigan far stronger than when she began. As her successor, I know that I will benefit from many things she started and will rely on her good counsel across the transition and into the future.
I also recognize the contributions of Michigan alumni and other supporters whose generosity has been critical to helping achieve the university’s mission. Despite the many difficulties of recent years, the university is in outstanding shape, in both intellectual and physical terms. Michigan has enhanced its formidable faculty even in these competitive times, and has built a strong program of financial aid to promote access to a University of Michigan education regardless of economic circumstance. Exceptional schools and programs are a direct result of alumni generosity, and the recently launched Victors for Michigan campaign will be key to our ongoing success. I look forward to working with the governor, state leaders and my colleagues from Michigan’s other public universities to find ways to enhance state support of higher education as well.
Great credit for the success of the university must go to the University of Michigan regents and I am eager to work in close partnership with them in the years ahead as we meet new challenges and seize emerging opportunities.
I’d like to thank the Presidential Search Advisory Committee and the regents for the great confidence they have shown in me. I promise to do my best to live up to the university’s highest ideals. I will work to enhance access and affordability, to promote academic excellence, and to support research and teaching of the highest impact and greatest value to society.
I hope to use the coming months to get to know many of you and understand as much as possible the opportunities and challenges that will define our success together here at the University of Michigan in the years ahead. My wife, Monica, and I along with our family look forward to becoming part of the Michigan family. Once again, thank you very much for the opportunity to lead this great University and as I will say for the first time publicly, GO BLUE!!!