Mary Sue Coleman began her tenure as president of the Association of American Universities on May 31, 2016.
Prior to joining the AAU, Coleman was president of the University of Michigan from 2002 to July 2014 (where she is now president and professor emerita) and president of the University of Iowa from 1995 to 2002. Long involved with the AAU, Coleman served as chair in 2011-2012.
Dr. Coleman has during her career as a faculty member and administrator been a national leader in higher education. Time magazine named her one of the nation’s “10 best college presidents,” and the American Council on Education honored her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
At the University of Michigan, Dr. Coleman oversaw the groundbreaking partnership with Google to digitize the University’s 7 million volume library, launched enduring institutional partnerships with universities in China, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, and India, revitalized student living and learning experiences through a residential life initiative, and worked tirelessly to promote economic revitalization and innovation within the state of Michigan.
In recognition of these efforts, Dr. Coleman was named by President Obama in 2010 to help launch the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke named her as co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Throughout her career, she has promoted the educational value of diverse perspectives in the classroom and within the academic community, and she has worked in numerous venues to improve access to higher education for all.
Elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine), Dr. Coleman is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In those roles, she has led major studies on the consequences of lack of health insurance within the U.S. and erosion of state and federal support for the nation’s public research universities.
As a biochemist and faculty member at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Coleman built a distinguished academic career through her teaching and research on the immune system and malignancies. Prior to becoming a university president, Coleman was vice chancellor for research and graduate education at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and provost at the University of New Mexico.
Dr. Coleman earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Grinnell College and a PhD in biochemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds honorary doctorates from a number of institutions including Grinnell College, Dartmouth College, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Notre Dame University, the University of North Carolina, Indiana University and Michigan State University.
She is the recipient of distinguished alumnus awards from the University of North Carolina and Grinnell College. The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and and Inclusion honored her as Humanitarian of the Year, and the Michigan Women’s Foundation presented her with its Trillium Lifetime Achievement Award.
Currently, Coleman is also a member of the boards of trustees of the Kavli Foundation, the Mayo Clinic Foundation, the Gates-Cambridge Scholars Program, the Society for Science and the Public, and the University of Denver.
Coleman’s husband, Kenneth M. Coleman, is a political scientist specializing in Latin America; recently he served as the Country Director for Nicaragua in the 2014 biennial survey conducted by the Latin American Public Opinion Project at Vanderbilt University. Previously, he was chair of political science and director of Latin American Studies (today Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies) at the University of Kentucky, as well as professor of political science at the Universities of Kentucky, New Mexico and North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has held Fulbright Lectureships in Mexico, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
At AAU, he serves as Director of Partners Programs.
The Colemans’ son, Jonathan, lives in Denver with his wife Aimee and two children, Emerson and Quincy.