Now that football season is over and Mary Sue Coleman is in her last semester at the helm at Michigan I thought I'd pull together the latest installment of this Diary. Here are links to Part 1 http://mgoblog.com/diaries/race-replace-mary-sue-coleman-–-odds-university-michigan’s-next-president
and Part 2 http://mgoblog.com/diaries/race-replace-mary-sue-coleman-–-odds-university-michigan’s-next-president-part-ii
We all have seen, and a Detroit Free Press noted in a basically factless article later this week, the information on the search is pretty quiet. That in itself and the fact that the student body is completely blocked out of the search committee and the faculty is damn nearly equally left out actually speaks volumes. The University is clearly looking at other sitting Presidents and the need to keep confidential their interest has required a very tight circle of those involved in the search. Further, as the office opens up in only seven more months, it may be that we are looking at an interim president if word doesn't come down relatively soon. President Coleman was publicly named in late May and took office in August of 2002 moving directly over from her position at the helm of the University of Iowa. Though no names have emerged publicly there are some interesting theories, a major wild card and a very strange rumor about a fly in the ointment.
Again, no names are really emerging from any credible sources (and by credible I mean one of the twenty or so people who actually know what's going on). There has been widespread speculation that, much as Mary Sue was, a sitting Big Ten President might be in the crosshairs. This makes sense considering that, our fellow B1G Universities share several commonalities beside geography. Aside from most being considered Top 50 to 60 academic Universities according to US News and World Report, all also have big time athletics that any President of this University would need to have an active role in. So take a look at the sitting Big Ten leaders from least likely to most likely:
1) Ohio and the Wisconsin system are looking for their own Presidents
2) Penn State, Wisconsin-Madison, Purdue, the University of Illinois system and Minnesota just replaced their Presidents in the last two years so they are all seemingly out.
3) indiana's President Michael McRobbie has been at the helm for six years but their academic reputation isn't what Michigan's is and nor is their football program. His entire professional career has been at IU. Seems unlikely to leave.
4) Nebraska's academic reputation just isn't strong enough to seriously consider their President who has been in place nearly ten years but is a Nebraska grad.
5) Iowa's president Sally Mason has been in place six years and was Provost (#2 in charge) at Purdue for another six.
6) Morton Schapiro at Northwestern would be phenomenal. He's been in place for four years and served nine years as President of Williams College and has a tremendous academic reputation. That said, NU is a pretty good gig. I hate to say this but this would be a lateral if not backwards move.
7) Illinois-Champaign's Chancellor is Phyllis Wise. She's been in place since 2011, was the interim President at the University of Washington for two years prior and Provost of the same for five years prior to that. Wise has ties to Michigan as her Ph.D. is from Michigan's zoology department.
Which leads us to....
8) Lou Anna Simon, the President of Michigan State and a Sparty alum (received her Ph.D.) Laugh all you want, but...
a) Simon has been at the helm for ten years (longest of all Big Ten Presidents) and was provost at State before that. She knows the players and politicians of this state which is crucial as all Michigan Universities fight for the scraps the State legislature throws to them.
b) Simon is currently the chairwoman of the executive committee of the NCAA. How would that be for instant pop in the college athletics scene.
c) I don't know if you noticed but Simon was given an honorary degree in Ann Arbor this past graduation cycle. Is that the Regents warming us up to the idea?
Anyway, there are a couple of interesting candidates here. Will the Regents pull their candidate from this pool?
I also want to address a name I heard recently but think its more of an "I wish" kind of thing from some of the administrators who said it. The name is Martha Minow, the Dean of Harvard Law School and name on the short list for the next available Supreme Court position. Come On! I mean, she would be a dream candidate in terms of reputation in the academic world. The reason her name likely comes up, aside from her academic reputation, is because she has Midwestern roots and a Michigan bachelor's degree before going on to get a Masters and J.D. From Harvard and Yale. I mean, again, IF she was actually interested, she'd be an academic powerhouse but its a HUGE jump from running a law school to a large University and she obviously has no experience dealing within major college sports. I just don't see it happening.
Finally, to that rumor....it's no mystery that David Brandon has many detractors around the University community. Nearly every Dean wants his head for drastically increasing the size and scope of the Athletics fundraising efforts and raiding many donors that were previously making academic gifts and slashing access to athletic campus. Further, his policies towards many of the Regional Alumni clubs have won him few friends (just ask the Detroit Club about Brandon's mandate they pay several thousand to rent space for their annual kickoff event where space was previously given free and the subsequent move of the event off campus). His popularity is rumored to be not so high among some of his former colleagues on the Board of Regents. It wouldn't surprise me to find out that a Regent or two is the source of the many rumors heard in certain circles that there are candidates for the President job that are declining because they fear/don't want to have to work with Brandon. Again, it could just be a malicious rumor being circulated by any one of many detractors of Brandon's but the smoke on this one is growing and I've heard it from four different and completely unrelated administrators at the University and a fifth person with ties to a Regent. It would truly be a shame if that is in fact damaging the possibility of getting the University a top candidate. Further, it will be very interesting to see how a new President without the same ties and familiarity to Brandon that Mary Sue has deals with him in light of much of the clear animosity directed towards him. Would Brandon walk away without the same kind of cover? Who knows? One thing that certainly would hit home here at MGoBlog would be how all of this would affect any kind of coaching change if necessary after next fall (and let me be clear that I personally hope we never have to answer this question). If Hoke were to be replaced, how comfortable would people be with the person who chose him in the first place making the decision on the new hire? Would a newly seated President have enough clout to influence the decision? Would that same President be pressured to then oust Brandon for his failure to bring in a winner. Would letting go of Brandon increase the perception of instability for a new hire and potentially screw up a hiring timetable while the AD gets hired before the coach search could happen? As I said, the Presidential search may have more to do with athletic campus than one might ordinarily expect.
So now we all sit back and wait. If there is going to be a a permanent President named to start by the fall, we should hear the name in the next few months. If I hear any names start to surface, I'll certainly tap out the fourth installment of the Diary.
Here's the link for this week's Freep article: http://www.freep.com/article/20140105/NEWS05/301050063/university-of-mic...