Introducing U-M’s president-elect

Mark S. Schlissel named 14th president of the University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – With a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents, Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., was appointed the 14th president of the University of Michigan. The vote took place during a special meeting of the board at the Michigan Union on January 24, 2014.

Schlissel, currently serving as provost of Brown University, will succeed Mary Sue Coleman July 1, 2014. Coleman is retiring after 12 years leading U-M.

"This is an exciting time for the University of Michigan,” said Andrea Fischer Newman, chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents.  “Mark Schlissel brings an exceptional portfolio of scholarship and leadership, and just as importantly a tremendous commitment to Michigan's public ethos.  I am confident Mark will lead the university into its next century focused on our deepest ideals of world-class academic excellence and public impact."

Schlissel, age 56, is a nationally recognized biomedical researcher who has risen through the ranks of academic and administrative positions in higher education. Before being named provost at Brown in 2011, Schlissel was University of California at Berkeley’s Dean of Biological Sciences in the College of Letters & Science and held the C.H. Li Chair in Biochemistry. 

“It is a tremendous honor to be entrusted with the presidency of one of the nation’s great public universities,” Schlissel said following the vote by the regents. “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 excellence and diversity are inextricably linked.”

“I am enormously excited about Mark Schlissel becoming the next president of the University of Michigan. He brings great intellect, academic achievement, proven leadership skills, integrity, commitment to our public mission and values, decency and good humor to his new responsibilities. We were privileged to have a pool of extraordinary candidates. Mark was simply the “best of the best.” I look forward to our future,” said Regent Laurence B. Deitch, who coordinated the presidential search process.

“In addition to being a thoughtful leader having extraordinary experience in higher education at the highest levels, President-Elect Schlissel is an outstanding listener.  He has demonstrated that he listens and solicits input from the campus community including fostering a diverse and inclusive campus environment,” said Regent Katherine E. White, who coordinated the town hall and outreach sessions on all three U-M campuses as part of the presidential search process.

A graduate of Princeton University (A.B., summa cum laude, Biochemical Sciences), Schlissel earned both M.D. and Ph.D. degrees at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He did his residency in internal medicine at The Johns Hopkins Hospital and was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. His research program has focused on the developmental biology of the immune system. As a faculty member at Johns Hopkins, he earned awards for his research and teaching. At Berkeley, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in immunology as well as the gateway course in biology required of all life science majors. In addition, he has mentored more than 20 successful Ph.D. candidates who did their dissertation research in a lab at either Hopkins or Berkeley.

Schlissel noted the synergy between research and an excellent educational environment. “Students get to learn from faculty who are defining the leading edge of human knowledge and curiosity; and the imagination and energy of our students contribute to the research enterprise. The university’s nearly 200-year history, its great faculty and steady stream of gifted students, and its strong culture of interdisciplinary collaboration allow it to tackle the toughest long-term problems for the public good.”

Schlissel will take over the helm of the $4 billion “Victors for Michigan” fundraising campaign launched last year.  The campaign is the largest ever in the university’s history and its highest priority is to raise funds for student support.

“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,” Schlissel said.

Schlissel will take the helm at a university that:

  • Has 19 schools and colleges on the Ann Arbor campus serving 28,000 undergraduates and 15,000 graduate and professional school students.
  • Has two regional campuses in Dearborn and Flint, extending the university’s reach through the state.
  • Is ranked No. 1 in research spending among public universities at $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2012.
  • Has 99 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Is on the verge of celebrating its bicentennial in 2017.
  • Was honored in 2012 with a Simon Award for its commitment to outstanding and innovative global engagement.

Schlissel, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., has been married for 29 years to Monica Schwebs, an environmental lawyer. They have four grown children.

Contact: Rick Fitzgerald, rickfitz@umich.edu; 734-936-5190

Harrison Ford, 14th President of the University

Mark S. Schlissel, M.D., Ph.D., 14th President of the University

Today is a great day for the University of Michigan. Right now, every part of our University faces transformative opportunities and challenges. Mark Schlissel is uniquely qualified to successfully lead us during this unique moment in our long history. His proven leadership in education, research and medicine touch the core functional missions of our University. He shares our passion for the essential role of public universities in solving the world's most important and complex problems.

I look forward to working with Mark to address the challenges of affordability, access and diversity. In addition to his impressive background and extraordinary intellect, Mark is a man of great integrity, humility and kindness. I am eager to work together. It is a great privilege to welcome him to the University of Michigan.

—Regent Mark J. Bernstein

I want to take a minute to express our appreciation to Mary Sue Coleman for her role in creating a near perfect environment for our recruitment of a new President. While we will have many opportunities to thank her for her extraordinary contributions to this University as she completes her term, and while this is Mark Schlissel’s moment, we should recognize that President Coleman gave us the luxury of time to conduct our search as carefully and thoroughly as possible and the luxury of choosing among an amazing group of eager, splendid, brilliant candidates because of the great status and stability this University has achieved under her leadership. 

As to the wonderful incoming president presented today, I believe that Mark’s deeply probing, visionary mind, his commitment to the values this University cherishes, including diversity and access, his compassionate nature and the breadth and depth of his experience will enable this greatest of public universities to preserve its heritage and to meet the challenges of the future at the highest level.

—Regent Julia Donovan Darlow

I am enormously excited about Mark Schlissel becoming the next president of the University of Michigan. He brings great intellect, academic achievement, proven leadership skills, integrity, commitment to our public mission and values, decency and good humor to his new responsibilities. We were privileged to have a pool of extraordinary candidates. Mark was simply the “best of the best.” I look forward to our future.

—Regent Laurence B. Deitch

Also read Regent Deitch’s statement at the news conference.

When we began our search process for our new president in March, we began with an introspective assessment of our needs and discussed our goals for the next decade.We desired a university achieving academic excellence in our undergraduate colleges, graduate programs and professional schools,

A university attracting bright youth with drive and intellectual curiosity and then enabling them to join our community regardlessof socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, circumstance or lack of opportunity,

A university providing a supportive educational and social environment for those very students with an accepting and encouraging culture on campus with resources available,

A university attracting innovative, accomplished faculty and supporting their teaching and research efforts within their disciplines and interdisciplinary,

A university practicing fiscal responsibility respecting the investments by our students, their families, our state and our donors, allowing monies to be spent towards our primary academic mission,

A university contributing to knowledge and translating it into health, economic, and social benefits for citizens of our city, our state, our nation and the world.

We desired a president who would articulate a vision and develop a strategy to accomplish it. We found this person in our next President Dr. Mark Schlissel. He is an academic scholar, a thoughtful and strategic leader, and an empathetic contemplative person. I am proud to have him lead us into the future.

Welcome to our next President—Dr. Mark Schlissel.

—Regent Shauna Diggs

The presidential search process was a first for me. It was an extremely rewarding and enriching experience. What a privilege to meet so many devoted higher education professionals that are committed to providing academic excellence and preparing the world’s future leaders.

Dr. Schlissel’s qualifications are unquestionable and so in situations such as this, the selection falls on character, values and fit. What set Dr. Schlissel apart from the other highly qualified candidates (for me) was his heart.

As a parent first and foremost, I am confident that Dr. Schlissel will lead with our students’ welfare as his top priority.

Dr. Schlissel understands our mission and will work tirelessly to continue our academic and research excellence, our passionate desire for access and affordability and a learning environment that is inclusive and promotes diversity.

It is a rare combination to find a person who brings compassion and kindness with brains and brawn!

Welcome to the University of Michigan! I also want to acknowledge and welcome a talented lawyer in her own right, Monica Schwebs.

—Regent Denise Ilitch

This is an exciting time for the University of Michigan.  Mark Schlissel brings an exceptional portfolio of scholarship and leadership, and just as importantly a tremendous commitment to Michigan's public ethos. I am confident Mark will lead the university into its next century focused on our deepest ideals of world-class academic excellence and public impact.

—Regent Andrea Fischer Newman

Also read Regent Newman’s statement at the news conference.

In Mark Schlissel, we have found a brilliant academic leader who has the vision to build on the University of Michigan’s standing as one of the world’s great institutions of higher education. Mark understands and embraces the mission of our public research university and the important role it plays in the future lives of our students and in the future of our state. He is superbly qualified to guide us into our third century. We welcome him and look forward to working with him.

—Regent Andrew C. Richner

As part of the Presidential Search Process, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee engaged in listening sessions with our communities on all three campuses, including faculty, staff, students and alumni. Throughout this process we learned a great deal about what qualities, experiences, and values you desire in the next President of the University of Michigan. In particular, I want to recognize the Central Student Government University Council Committee for consolidating the student perspectives in an outstanding report that gave us much guidance throughout our process. Thanks, again, to President Mike Proppe for your exceptional leadership through this process, and thanks to Vice President Bobby Dishell for your exceptional leadership role as well.

The messages we heard were concerns about the affordability regarding the cost of attendance at the University of Michigan, concerns about having a diverse campus across all levels, faculty, staff, and students, but also to promote a climate that fosters inclusion so that everyone can thrive.

Top of mind was also maintaining and improving academic prestige, and the need for fundraising efforts to positively impact each and every student. Importantly, we also heard from graduate students who have unique concerns separate from those of undergraduates. At the Flint and Dearborn campuses, we heard about the desire for deeper collaboration, engagement, partnerships, and leveraging of resources across and between the campuses. Throughout this process, your voices have been heard.  And, most importantly, the listening continues.

I am pleased to report that, in addition to being a thoughtful leader having extraordinary experience in higher education at the highest levels, President-Elect Mark Schlissel is an outstanding listener. He has demonstrated that he listens and solicits input from the campus community including fostering a diverse and inclusive campus environment. He is recognized as a highly rated scholar and teacher. Having both an MD and a PhD, he has experience at the lab bench. He has won numerous awards as a researcher and teacher. He has experience as an academic administrator at virtually every level. We look forward to our continued conversations as the listening continues.

—Regent Katherine E. White

news conference gallery