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Shlissel and Coleman shake hands
U-M President Mary Sue Coleman congratulates her successor, Mark Shlissel. (Image: Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)
Topics: Campus Life

Mark Schlissel named U-M president

By Rick Fitzgerald

With a unanimous vote of the Board of Regents Jan. 24, Mark S. Schlissel, MD/PhD, 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.

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.

Schlissel with Regents

U-M President-elect Mark Schlissel (back row, center) with the U-M Board of Regents Jan. 24. (Image: Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

“Mark Schlissel brings an exceptional portfolio of scholarship and leadership, and just as importantly a tremendous commitment to Michigan’s public ethos,” said Andrea Fischer Newman, chair of the University of Michigan Board of Regents. “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,”  said Regent Laurence B. Deitch, who coordinated the presidential search process. “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.”

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

Mark Schlissel

Mark Schlissel currently is provost at Brown University. (Image: Scott C. Soderberg, Michigan Photography)

A graduate of Princeton University (AB, summa cum laude, Biochemical Sciences), Schlissel earned both MD and PhD 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 PhD 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.

(Top image of Mark Schlissel with U-M President Mary Sue Coleman by Scott C. Soderberg.)

Rick Fitzgerald

Rick Fitzgerald

RICK FITZGERALD is associate director of public affairs for the University of Michigan. His main areas of responsibility are emergency preparedness, labor agreements, university budget, and special projects.