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Mary Sue Coleman, the former University of Michigan president, will become the next president of the Association of American Universities effective June 1, 2016, the organization announced Tuesday.

AAU, based in Washington, is a $146 billion national organization representing 34 public, 26 private and two Canadian universities. It develops national policy positions on academic issues. Recently it released an unprecedented survey on college campus sexual assault.

Coleman will pick up the reins from Hunter R. Rawlings III, the AAU president who will retire in May when his contract expires. Coleman was chairwoman of the association in 2011-12.

Rawlings was the 17th president of the University of Iowa, serving from 1988-95.

Prior to becoming UM’s first female president in 2002 and retiring in 2012, Coleman was the University of Iowa’s 18th president, succeeding Rawlings.

AAU board chair Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, called Coleman “the ideal person to lead AAU.”

“During her tenure at both Iowa and the University of Michigan, Mary Sue was universally regarded as one of the very best presidents in the country,” Gutmann said in a statement. “In her strong and sustained university leadership, she has demonstrated the essential role of higher education in the lives of individuals and our society and world. She also knows AAU well, having served previously as board chair. I cannot imagine anyone better suited than Mary Sue to advance the research agenda that is at the center of AAU’s mission and that is also absolutely critical to the future of our nation.”

During her years at UM, Coleman helped launch President Barack Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership. In 2010, then-Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke named her co-chair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Also while at UM, Coleman launched partnerships with universities in China, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil and India. She also was at the helm of a partnership between the university and Google to digitize the school’s 7 million-volume library.

kkozlowski@detroitnews.com

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