Dr. Mary Sue Coleman: Margaret Harvin Wilson's Brilliant Daughter

Dr. Mary Sue Coleman is the first recipient of Georgia College’s honorary doctorate. She received this award on December 12, 2015. Dr. Coleman was recommended for this award because of her commitment to encouraging student scholarship at Georgia College.

Dr. Coleman is the daughter to the famous Margaret Harvin Wilson. Margaret attended Georgia State College for Women (GSCW) in the 1930s, before it became the Georgia College we know today. When discussing her mother, Dr. Coleman said, “No one from her family had ever attended college, and she was determined to be the first. Fortunately for Margaret, her father had set aside a small amount of money from his job as a furniture salesman.” Margaret would go on to win a short story contest her senior year at GCSW which inspired her post-graduate teaching career.

Dr. Coleman’s mother’s teaching career inspired her to spend in higher education. When asked about her college career, Dr. Coleman replied, “Attending college was never a question for my sisters and me—it was simply the next chapter after high school. Higher education was essential and important.” After graduating college, Dr. Coleman was the president of the University of Michigan from 2002 until retiring in 2014.

In January 2010, Dr. Mary Sue Coleman and her husband founded an endowment in honor of Margaret Harvin Wilson. The endowment is now known as the Margaret Harvin Wilson Writing Award. The Margaret Harvin Wilson Writing Award is awarded yearly to original creative works. It is similar to the competition Wilson won while at GSCW.

Dr. Mary Sue Coleman has served in many leadership roles including: the Board of Trustees of the Gates Cambridge Scholars, the Board of Trustees of the Mayo Clinic, and the Board of Trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation. When speaking about Dr. Coleman, President Steve Dorman said, “We are proud to acknowledge Dr. Coleman’s accomplishments with this honorary degree and celebrate the fact that Dr. Coleman’s mother was a first generation graduate of Georgia College.”

We are so proud to have such a brilliant and giving person as part of our alumni at Georgia College. We wish Dr. Coleman all the best.