ANN ARBOR, Mich. ― Brown University Provost Mark Schlissel was named Friday as the new president of the University of Michigan, vowing to strengthen what he called a “jewel” of higher education in the U.S.
The Board of Regents approved Schlissel, a biochemist, as the 14th person to lead the Ann Arbor school at a special session.
“I am amazingly honored,” said Schlissel, 56, who has been Brown’s chief academic officer since 2011. Before that, he served as dean of biological sciences at the University of California-Berkeley. He received a medical degree and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.
Schlissel agreed to a five-year contract that will pay him a base salary of $750,000 per year. Schlissel is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He has been married for 29 years to Monica Schwebs, an environmental lawyer. They have four grown children.
Schlissel will succeed President Mary Sue Coleman, who announced last year that she would step down when her contract expires this summer. She will leave as Michigan’s fourth longest-serving leader and the university’s first female president.
“I’m thrilled that they selected another biochemist,” Coleman, 70, said to laughter.
“Dr. Schlissel, welcome to a university unlike any other,” she said.
Schlissel called the school a “jewel of the American educational system.”
At a post-meeting news conference, Schlissel addressed the issue of student diversity, saying the university “should look like the community you’re serving.” He called the cost of attending college a “growing national concern” that would be one of his top priorities when he takes office July 1.
Schlissel said he turned down several offers of potential university administration jobs during his time at Brown, but that he was attracted to Michigan because of the “breadth of academic excellence.”
Schlissel complimented Coleman for her academic leadership and fundraising prowess, saying she “has established a culture” of donors wanting to give back to the school.
Coleman was hired in 2002 after seven years as president at the University of Iowa. Her time in Ann Arbor has been marked by significant physical changes to the campus.
The North Quad building, Mott Children’s Hospital, Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital and Ross Business School complex are some of the buildings erected during Coleman’s presidency. The school also bought 173 acres of land and 30 buildings.
Coleman supports diversity on the campus and opposed a state law that prohibited undergraduate admissions based on race and gender. The school has one of the largest research budgets for a public university in the country.
The outgoing and incoming presidents, both greeted with standing ovations, concluded their remarks with the rallying cry, “Go Blue!”