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Saturday September 20, 2014
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Suellyn Scarnecchia

 

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It was, she recalls, "like going to another country." She loved Albuquerque and New Mexico's diverse student body. But ultimately, family called her back to Ann Arbor. "I just got more and more homesick," she confesses. So when Krislov left to become president of Oberlin, she applied for the general counsel's job.

Scarnecchia, who has graying hair and a dimpled smile, works literally in the corridor of power: her office is on the fifth floor of the administration building, down the hall from President Mary Sue Coleman. In addition to providing counsel to Coleman and the U-M regents, she and her associate VPs, Ed Goldman and Gloria Hage, manage a staff of twenty lawyers who handle the university's in-house legal work.

Soon after she was hired, her office represented football coach Rich Rodriguez when he tried, unsuccessfully, to get out of paying $4 million for breaking his contract at West Virginia. Other issues have ranged from the Google Books copyright agreement to the purchase of the Pfizer property. Her office also recently clarified the university's intellectual property rules to encourage student entrepreneurs. "We want to start promoting that thinking among our students," says Scarnecchia. "President Coleman is very enthusiastic about this whole push."

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