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August 29, 1967 - Image 37

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1967-08-29

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TUESDAY, AUGUST 2J, 196'7

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 1967 THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Saga

of

Catholepistemiad: 150

By STEPHEN WILDSTROM
The University of Michigan was
born out of a confluence of
dreams in the early 19th century.
First of all, there was the great
dream, the American Dream, the
dream of the Confederation Con-
gress for a vastly expanded coun-
try and an improved Northwest.
Congress took a step toward
realization of this dream in 1787
when the Northwest Ordinance
was passed, wisely declaring that
"schools and the means of edu-
cation shall forever be encour-

and is still remembered by the
maze of streets in downtown
Detroit.
Clearly, a new school in the
West required a new terminology
and Judge Woodward generously
provided it, The school was to be
called the Catholepistemiad of
Michigan, to be made up of 13
"didaxiim" of professorships with
the "didactor of Catholepiste-
mia," or universal science, to serve
as president.
Even the local Indian tribes
were caught up in the dream.
They gave the school three sec-

aged." tions of land "because their chil-
Pioneer settlers in the village of dren might want to go to college."
Detroit also had a dream of cre- It seems a shame that until this
ating an institution' of higher ed- year, these founders of the Uni-
ucation in the Territory of Mich- versity were all but forgotten by
igan. their dream-child. While later
Father Gabriel Richard, a Ro- University builders-Haven, Tap-
m;n Catholic priest; the Rev. pan, Angell-are well-remember-
John Monteith, Michigan's first ed, no fitting monuments to the
protestant minister; and Judge Rev. Monteith, who has a college
Augustus Woodward, a man of named after him at Wayne State
fertile mind and fantastic imag- University, Judge Woodward, who
ination, were three men who felt is recalled by Detroit's main street,
that Michigan should have a pub- or Fr. Richard, who has a park in
lic school system. They persuaded Detroit, has ever been erected at
and badgered the territorial gov- the University.
ernment until they received per- For the most part, the Cathole-
mission to proceed with their plan. pistemiad remained little more
Any project that the good judge than a dream. It was chartered in
undertook bore the clear stamp 1817 but was constantly on the
of his highly original mind. He verge of bankruptcy. It held very
laid out the first street plan for few classes of any sort and never
Detroit - strongly influenced by offered any courses on the college
L'Enfant's plan for Washington- level.

In 1821, the Catholepistemiad
folded and the territorial govern-
ment created a university in De-
troit as its legal successor. How-
ever, like its predecessor, the uni-
versity never got off the ground
and never- offered any college-
level courses.
Finally, in 1837, the University
as we know it was born in Ann
Arbor with the admission of Mich-
igan into the Union and the es-
tablishment of the Board of Re-
gents.
The new school needed a site
and some enterprising local land
speculators offered two 40-acre
tracts to the Regents. One was in
the gentle hills along the Huron
River. now the site of North Cam-
pus, and the other was a square
of spent farmland just east of
the tiny settlement. For reasons
of their own, the Regents chose
the barren piece that is now the
Diag.
The perennial financial prob-
lems still plagued the school and
no construction was started until
1840 when four houses for pro-
fessors were built. One of these
forms the core of the President's
House on South University, mak-
ing that the oldest building on
campus and one of the oldest in
the state.
It was 1841 when the University
of Michigan finally got down to
the business of educating stu-
dents. The first class consisted of

Angell

seven students taught by a faculty
of two. For a $10 entrance fee,
these first students were entitled
to be awakened every morning
at 5:30 for compulsory chapel.
In the summer of 1852, an event
that was to have a lasting effect
on the development of the Uni-
vest took place. A distinguished
Eastern educator, Dr. Henry Philip
Tappan, became president. Tap-
pan brought with him a com-
mitment to the Prussian system of
eduatina system dedicated to
ectures and research raher than
the English system 'of tutorials
and residential colleges.
Tappan was convinced that re-
search was a vital part of a uni-
versity, largely a new concept in
Michigan. He also abolished the
residential arrangements that had
been in effect since 1841 and stu-
dents were given their introduc-
tiori to Ann Arbor landlords.
The 19th century was largely
a period of quiet, steady growth
for the University. The major con-
troversy was a long-running feud
between the Legislature and the
University over the teaching of
homeopathy, a long extinct form
of medical practice. The Legisla-
ture insisted that that a chair
of homeopathy be established in
the medical school and the Uni-
versity, ignoring annual threats of
being cut off without a penny,
steadfastly refused. The chair
never was established.
Although political protests were
virtually unheard of until World
War . I, the students were not
really a passive lot. Their favorite
stunt was crashing the gates of
any circus that dared to come to
town and raising as much hell as
they could get away with.

Early 'U' Building on the Newly-Opened Ann Arbor Campus

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