For the first time, UM names academic building after a woman

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

The University of Michigan on Thursday diversified the names on its buildings when it approved the first academic building honoring a woman.

President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman's name will now be on the building that houses the Life Sciences Institute, a hub for bioscience discovery.

The building will be known as Mary Sue Coleman Hall.

Interim UM president Mary Sue Coleman

"To me, this richly deserved naming of Mary Sue Coleman Hall is a reflection of all she has done to enhance the University of Michigan and heighten the impact of higher education on our society," said President Mark Schlissel. "Thanks to President Emerita Coleman, U-M has a faculty rich in intellectual diversity, a physical campus that is the envy of our peers, and numerous academic programs that are amongst the best in the world."

Mary Sue Coleman Hall joins UM's Trotter Multicultural Center among the diverse names on campus. The Trotter Center is the only building on campus named after an African American, civil rights activist William Monroe Trotter.

UM spokesman Rick Fitzgerald did not know the number of buildings on campus named after men.

Coleman served as UM's president from 2002-14. She was the first woman appointed to the post.

During her tenure, she led the fight for affirmative action in university admissions to the U.S. Supreme Court. Though the justices upheld the use of affirmative action in UM admissions, state voters outlawed it in 2006, but officials say Coleman worked to make sure that UM did everything possible to enroll students of different backgrounds.

Coleman also established the North Campus Research Complex and helped create the Life Sciences Institute.

"I am deeply honored and touched by this action," Coleman said in a statement. "For me, helping to build the Life Sciences Institute into the research powerhouse it is today was the opportunity of a lifetime."