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Commencement Speaker - 2013

Mary Sue Coleman

University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman was the speaker for the 119th annual commencement ceremony at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The ceremony took place at 10 a.m. on June 14, 2013, on Caltech's campus in Pasadena, California.

Coleman has led the University of Michigan (U-M) since being appointed its 13th president in August 2002. She is also a professor of biological chemistry in the Medical School and professor of chemistry in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. In 2009, Time magazine named Coleman one of the nation's "10 best college presidents."

"Mary Sue Coleman is a champion of interdisciplinary creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship," says Jean-Lou Chameau, president of Caltech. "She is a shining example of the collaborative spirit we hope to instill in all of our Caltech graduates. 

As president, Coleman has launched several major initiatives at U-M that are designed to have a positive impact on future generations of students, the intellectual life of the campus, and society at large. These include expanded academic partnerships with universities in China, Ghana, South Africa, and Brazil, and a groundbreaking collaboration between the university and Google, which will enable the public to search the text of the university's 7-million-volume library and will pave the way to universal access to and the preservation of recorded human knowledge.

She was one of six university presidents to help launch the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a national effort bringing together industry, universities, and the federal government to revitalize American manufacturing through investment in and development of emerging technologies. In 2010, then U.S. commerce secretary Gary Locke named her cochair of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Coleman is regarded as a national spokesperson on the educational value of diverse perspectives in the classroom, and her extensive leadership positions in higher education have included membership on the National Collegiate Athletic Association Board of Directors and the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

As a biochemist, Coleman has built a distinguished career through her research on the immune system and malignancies. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Coleman is also a nationally recognized expert on the consequences of being uninsured, both for individuals and society as a whole.

"As an entrepreneurial scientist and an academic powerhouse, Coleman represents the potential I see in all of our students to become leaders in their respective fields," says Chameau. "I am delighted that she will be delivering the inspirational words that will send our graduates out into the world."