Presidential Possibilities

The Michigan Daily's Administration Beat presents an unscientific survey of potential candidates for the next president of the University.


  1. The rankings, ordered from most to least likely, are based on a candidate's ties to the University, experience in similar higher education positions, recent openings or retirements from former positions and individual characteristics. While we've done our homework, it's entirely possible that a dark horse candidate could emerge from the long search and vetting process.

  2. Phyllis Wise

  3. Phyllis Wise, chancellor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, entered her role in 2011, where she controls all financial programs, campus policies and promotes the school’s mission. She has held a host of positions at other institutions, including the University of Washington and the University of California, Davis, among others. With Wise’s background serving at various universities, returning to the University — where she earned her doctorate degree in zoology — as president could be appealing.
  4. Linda Katehi

  5. Linda P. B. Katehi, the sixth chancellor of University of California, Davis, became its first female leader in 2009 — a title Coleman holds at the University. While Katehi faced national attention for the school’s controversial pepper-spraying incident at the Occupy Davis protest in 2011, she holds credentials as chancellor of a major public school and as a former professor of electrical engineering at the University. Her experience as a leader at a public university and with the University makes her a potential candidate for the Board of Regents to consider.
  6. George Breslauer

  7. George Breslauer, the executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of California, Berkeley, entered his role in 2006. Since he announced his retirement from his position in April, Breslauer may be considered as a candidate to fill Coleman’s shoes. If considered and appointed, Breslauer could return to the University, where he received his Bachelors, Masters and Ph.D. degrees in political science in 1966, 1968 and 1973.

  8. Scott Waugh

  9. Scott Waugh, executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of California, Los Angeles, has worked at the school since 1975, becoming provost in 2008. While Waugh has no connection to the University, his work at UCLA — a comparable public higher education institution — could catch the regents’ eyes. Before joining UCLA’s staff, he graduated from the school in 1970 and earned a Ph.D. from the University of London in 1975.
  10. John Simon

  11. John Simon has been the executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia since 2011. Previously, Simon served as the vice provost for academic affairs at Duke University. In his positions, Simon has directed academic administration, overseeing strategic planning and fostering academic initiatives. Before joining Duke’s faculty, Simon worked in the University of California, San Diego’s department of chemistry and biochemistry.
  12. James Dean

  13. James Dean came to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the executive vice chancellor and provost this year. Previously, he served as the dean of the university’s Kenan-Flagler Business School beginning in 2008. In his new role, Dean focuses on organizational change, strategic decision making and international management, among other areas.
  14. Sally Mason

  15. Sally Mason has served as the 20th president of the University of Iowa since 2007. Mason is trained as a cell developmental biologist and has spearheaded a major sustainability initiative during her presidency. Coleman was also the President at the University of Iowa before departing for Ann Arbor. David Skorton, who succeeded Coleman and preceded Mason, left Iowa to become president at Cornell University.
  16. Ana Mari Cauce

  17. Ana Mari Cauce is the provost of the University of Washington. Cauci’s background is strongly rooted in academic leadership, with previous appointments as psychology department chair, Honors College director and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences — all at the University of Washington. She continues to hold appointments in the Department of Psychology and American Ethnic Studies.