Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009

Mary Sue Coleman

Fundraising. It's every university president's bane; it's every university president's salvation. And those in the maize and blue have long seen the writing on the wall. "We've understood that the state was not going to be able to support us to the level that we needed it to," says Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan since 2002. The state currently provides less than 10% of her school's budget. So Michigan — and many other institutions across the land — has taken it upon itself to stay competitive by developing non-public sources of revenue. From 2000 to 2008, the school raised $3.2 billion, beating its goal of $2.5 billion. "Our timing was impeccable," says Coleman of the campaign, which ended in December, just as the financial crisis crashed into her already reeling state. On the academic front, she has helped increase Michigan's already robust profile as one of the nation's premier research institutions; this past year, the university passed the $1 billion mark for research expenditures. Coleman also wants to help prop up nearby Detroit, where the school has just launched a "semester abroad" for students. "We have a responsibility," she says, "to use our strengths and our economic muscle to help with Detroit's recovery and resurgence." —Gilbert Cruz