General Counsel 1989-1997
Elsa Kircher Cole served as general counsel of the University of Michigan for eight years, from 1989 to 1997. A nationally recognized authority on higher education law, she has spoken and published widely on employment and student issues, including acting as a consultant to numerous colleges and universities and as legal editor of the Educator's Guide to Controlling Sexual Harassment. She served on the Board of Directors and was designated a Life Member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.
Before coming to Michigan in 1989, she was an assistant attorney general for the state of Washington, assigned to represent the University of Washington. She received her A.B. degree from Stanford University and her J.D. degree from Boston University School of Law.
In 1998 she joined the National Collegiate Athletic Association as its general counsel and vice-president for legal affairs where she served with distinction for the next 13 years. There she worked for passage of regulations aimed at creating meaningful education experiences for student-athletes and better safety equipment and guidance for them as well ensuring the implementation of Title IX and gender equity in NCAA programs. She received the Joseph E. O’Neill award from Marquette University School of Law in 2010 for her contributions to sports law while exhibiting the highest ethical standards.
She held the position of general counsel for the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation based in Austin, Texas. In 2012 she was appointed the University Counsel at the University of New Mexico.
Cole embarked on a career in law because of the opportunity to analyze and solve problems. “I’ve always been intrigued by intellectual challenges and the idea that I could help people solve their problems,” she said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have jobs where the purpose of the organization helped me to do that.”