Blenda J. Wilson and Mary Sue Coleman will be the main speakers at UM-Dearbornís commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 2

April 2, 2010

Wilson (left) and Coleman

DEARBORN / April 2, 2010---Blenda J. Wilson, former chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and U-M President Mary Sue Coleman will be the main speakers at UM-Dearbornís commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 2.

Wilson will speak at the morning ceremony, beginning at 10:30 a.m., for graduates of the campusís College of Engineering and Computer Science and College of Business.  Coleman will speak at the afternoon ceremony, beginning at 2:30 p.m., for graduates of the campusís College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters and School of Education.

Wilson, who received her Ph.D. from Boston College, became the third chancellor of UM-Dearborn and the first woman to head a four-year college or university in the state of Michigan when the U-M Regents appointed her in 1988. 

Wilsonís career in higher education was influenced by her early experiences as a community organizer in President Lyndon Johnsonís War on Poverty programs in the 1960s.  She was appointed executive director of the Middlesex County Economic Opportunity Corporation in 1966 and later became the first female senior officer of Rutgers University in 1969.  She also served as senior associate dean of Harvard Universityís Graduate School of Education and president of California State University, Northridge.  In addition, she served in the Governorís Cabinet as the executive director of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

In 1999, Wilson became president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.  Under her leadership, the foundation distributed more than $80 million in grants to schools and colleges to support improved educational achievement especially among disadvantaged populations.  She retired from Nellie Mae in 2006.

Wilson remains active as a national speaker and presenter on higher education policy issues and as an advocate for access and equity in education.  She is a trustee of several colleges and universities including her undergraduate alma mater, Cedar Crest College.  She is chair of the board of directors of HERS and serves on the board of directors of Medco Health Solutions. 

Coleman has led U-M since being appointed its 13th president in August 2002.  Under her leadership, the university launched ďThe Michigan Difference,Ē a campaign that at its conclusion in December 2008 raised $3,200,733,103--the most ever by a public university.  Coleman also cultivated a groundbreaking partnership between U-M and Google that will enable the public to search the text of the universityís 7-million-volume library.

Coleman is regarded as a national spokesperson on the educational value of diverse perspectives in the classroom.  Her extensive leadership positions in higher education include having served on the Association of American Universities Executive Committee, the Internet2 Board of Directors, the National Collegiate Athletic Association Board of Directors, and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

As a biochemist, Coleman built a distinguished research career through her research on the immune system and malignancies.  For 19 years she was a member of the biochemistry faculty at the University of Kentucky.  Her work led to administrative appointments at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of New Mexico, where she served as provost and vice president for academic affairs.  From 1995-2002, Coleman was president of the University of Iowa.

She earned her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Grinnell College and her doctorate in biochemistry from the University of North Carolina.


About University of Michigan-Dearborn

The University of Michigan-Dearborn is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout the 2009/2010 academic year. Founded in 1959 with a gift of just over 200 acres of land and $6.5 million from the Ford Motor Company, UM-Dearborn has been distinguished by its commitment to providing excellent educational opportunities responsive to the needs of southeastern Michigan. The university has 8,700 students pursuing undergraduate, masterís, doctoral and professional degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, business, education, and public administration. With a faculty devoted to teaching, and students committed to achievement, UM-Dearborn has been shaped by its history of interaction with business, government and industry in southeastern Michigan, and is committed to responding to the needs of the region in the future. 



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