DETROIT (WWJ) – University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman will receive a Michigan State University degree.

Yes, you read that correctly.

It’s an honorary degree she’ll get on Friday, before giving MSU’s graduate school commencement speech.

Why would State invite the president of a rival institution to speak?

WWJ’s Charlie Langton asked MSU President Lou Anna Simon.

“There’s a long tradition of intellectual exchanges between the University of Michigan and Michigan State that sometimes gets drowned out in the … athletic rivalry,” she said, “so it’s not been the first time that has happened.

Simon said Coleman is an extraordinarily respected leader on a national level.

“She’s chairing a major manufacturing initiative for President Obama,” Simon said. “Those are the kinds of experiences, the kinds of things that I think she can bring perspective to the ceremony for our graduate students.”

But, might she be booed?

Simon said she’s not worried that Coleman could face hecklers.

“I think our graduate students understand the value of a professional career of that kind at Michigan State,” Simon said.

Although there’s no plans at this time for Simon to speak in Ann Arbor, the MSU president is scheduled to get an honorary U of M Degree in the spring.

“But (Coleman) had a tougher time,” said Simon, with a laugh. “She had to get me through the honorary degree committee there.”


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