Scanned image of the page. Keyboard directions: use + to zoom in, - to zoom out, arrow keys to pan inside the viewer.

Page Options

Download this Issue


Something wrong?

Something wrong with this page? Report problem.

Rights / Permissions

This collection, digitized in collaboration with the Michigan Daily and the Board for Student Publications, contains materials that are protected by copyright law. Access to these materials is provided for non-profit educational and research purposes. If you use an item from this collection, it is your responsibility to consider the work's copyright status and obtain any required permission.

January 15, 1960 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1960-01-15
This is a tabloid page

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.










The President Emeritus
Spends Leisure Time
Taking an Active Interest

In University Affairs


HE MAN WHO guided the
"mother of state universities"
through 22 years of crisis finds
he is "somewhat disillusioned."--
"I thought when I retired I would
have the leisure I didn't have as
president," former University
President Alexander Grant Ruth-
ven says.
But he really doesn't want that
leisure. At 77 years old, he is still
an active part of the University,
consultant to the Development
Council, Dean of Alumni and an
invaluable source of past history.
He serves on several boards in-
cluding the Ann Arbor Trust Co.
and the Lincoln National Life In-
surance Co. and the University
Music Society.
And his time is also devoted to
raising Morgan horses on the Hur-
on River farm right across the
way from his spacious one-floor
ranch home.
"The horses were the only thing
that kept me sane while I was
president," Ruthven says. He has
raised full blood riding and show
horses for 35 years in Ann Arbor
and at his "Rolling R" ranch near
"It is impossible to be around a
Morgan without feeling that the
world is all right-or, at least,
that it could be a lot worse than
it is," he claims.
RUTHVEN is not tired of trying
to change the world. He will
discuss with university adminis-
trators over the problems which
plagued him as president and
which continue to call for atten-
tion. Is the University too large?
How should student government
be organized? How best to house
He may not agree with current
University solutions to these per-
plexities, and he lets the men in
charge know why.
He would also like to let the
men in Lansing know what he
thinks of the current financial
entanglement. "I've enjoyed work-
ing closely with the Legislature
for 25 years," Ruthven recalls,
"and that's been through depres-
sions and good times. In some of
those periods the state was really
in financial difficulties."
The former president worked
with the Legislature throughout

the 1930's depression. Having tak-
en office in 1929, he saw the Uni-
versity and the state live through
the lean decade, years which
brought no physical expansion ex-
cept for four dormitories Ruth-
ven built with revenue bonds,
which brought enrollment to a
low of 8,292 in 1933.
BUT "the legislators have al-
ways before pulled things to-
gether," he says.
"To me it is simply ridiculous
that the sixth wealthiest state in
the Union has gotten itself in this
situation through a p o l i t i c a l
wrangle. Sooner or later we've
got to come to a state income tax."
Under Ruthven's administration
legislative appropriations to the
University rose from $4,920,852 for
1929-30 to $11,572,945 in 1950-51.
Once the University had weath-
ered the depression, it entered a
time of unprecedented growth.
Enr6llment in 1929 was 9,688; in
1949 it was 21,363.
What can be done at present to
take care of increasing numbers
of students? Ruthven says we
should expand the smaller insti-
tutions, then create other schools
and colleges about the state.
"After the war when we knew
it was an emergency the Univer-
sity blew up to about 22,500," he
recalls. "But we knew then it would
drop again." It did, but not for
HE SAID in 1946 that higher
education was entering a new
era in which no institution could
adopt a defeatist attitude by plac-
Ing a limit on size.
"Several thousand young people,
many of them veterans, were re-
fused admission to the Univer-
sity for the year 1946-47, and yet
the enrollment bids nearly ex-
ceed 18,000," he told alumni then.
"The proper question to ask
ourselves is not how large the
University should be but whether
or not we wish to meet our obli-
gations to the State, the nation,
and the world as we have at-
tempted to meet them in the past:
should we accept increased size 'as
a challenge or change the charac-
ter of the University by making it
solely a provincial school."

The University was forced' to
temporarily limit non-resident en-
rollment at that time.
But the former president sees
the long-run solution to rising en-
rollment pressure in creating new
state schools and in enlarging
existing smaller institutions.
And he says he has always felt
thta students should pay no tui-
tion, "though this is not gener-
ally conceded."
RUTHVEN hesitates at the em-
phasis on graduate work, which
has grown at the University in
the past few decades. "A state
university, a great public univer-
sity of this kind, should not be-
come predominantly a graduate
Although there is an advantage
in training graduate students, he
prefers a balance which appor-
tions one third of total enroll-
ment to freshmen and sopho-
mores, one third to juniors and
seniors, and one third to gradu-
"If the state wants purely a
graduate institution it seems
preferable to me to have a new
institution," he declares. "But the
best thing is not the easiest," and
it is easier to use existing facili-
ties than to build new ones.
Ruthven faced the problems of
size and its organization early in
his administration. He had said
in his inaugural address it was the
duty of American education to
stress the democratic way of life.
"And our schools cannot assist
in the achievement of this pur-
pose if they encourage autocratic
administration, permitting a spirit
of uncertainty, fear, rivalry or
suspicion to .prevail among staff
versity administration along
corporate lines, delegating author-
ity and responsibility to vice-pres-
idents and giving the faculty a
larger voice than ever before.
Deans and department heads,
assisted by advisory committees
were given executive status. A
University Council, composed of
deans, administrative officers and
elected representatives of the
faculty replaced the large un-
wieldy University Senate.
Looking back, he is proudest of
this accomplishment. Ruthven be-
lieves a university "in the best
sense, is a community of schol-
ars," and faculty, students and
administrators must hlave equal
voice in this community.
He recalls that his office door
was always open to anyone who
cared to talk with him. A faculty
member could walk right in, he
says, provided a student wasn't
there first.

But Cook Endowed a Dormitory to Preserve Her


known somewhat unofficially
by the Cookies' as "The Nunnery"
and by thelaw students next door
as "The Virgin Vault," was the
first women's dormitory at the
Although women students came
to the campus in 1871, they lived
in private homes, sorority houses
and league houses until the ad-
ministration recognized the need
for larger-scale housing early in
the 1900's. At this time, there
were a total of 750 women on
campus, 350 of which were housed
in sorority and league houses.
William Wilson Cook, '82L, was
then a prominent commercial law-
yer in New York, and- a' perfect
pigeon for the project. He was
approached by an enterprising
alumnae group and promised to
donate $10,000 for a women's
residence hall. As plans progressed,
the original modest estimate sky-
rocketed to an inflationary high
of $500,000, but Cook threw budget
to the wind and gave his ap-
In a 1914 letter to the President
of the University and the Regents,
he stated the terms of his gift,
which was to honor the memory
of his mother Martha.
In this document, he stipulated
that the residents would have sole.
control of its funds, the University
would provide free heat,. light and
power and any surplus income
would be used for further im-
provement of the building.
COOK, A very shy man, donated
a total of $16 million worth of
gifts to the University, but never
came back to view his handiwork.
He was a. firm believer. of -the
"woman's place is in the home"
ideas and hoped to further his
campaign by giving girls a cul-
tured atmosphere in which to live
during their University attend-
He once commented, "America
is a woman's country. Women con-
trol the social life, the religious
life, the artistic life, the encour-
agement of literature, the house-
hold expenditures, the customs
and manners. If woman becomes
mannish, her inflence over men
will decline and manners, customs
and morals will deteriorate."
He even went so far as to have
the motto "Home, the Nation's
Safety," inscribed in the mantel
over the fireplace in the dining
Asked why he chose this par-
ticular phrase, he explained, "As
I pass along Wall Street and hear
the strident voices of women suf-
fragettes declaiming in open auto-
mobiles, I feel that we are drifting
away from our ancient moor-

William W. Cook
... gives a cultured home
ings. ..'." He wanted to bring back
"the charm and grace and prin-
ciples of cultured American wom-
Even those hardened lovers of
Undergraduate Library - type ar-
chitecture have to admit that his
building has charm. Situated be-
side the Law Quadrangle and fac-
ing the impressive Clements Li-
brary, it is a large brick and stone
building in the English collegiate
Gothic design, complete with
pointed arches, buttresses and al
battlemented slate and copper roof
supposedly inspired by those at
Cambridge and Oxford.
THE DOORWAY was Cook's own
idea and its design is carried
out on the dorm's' silverware, sta-
tionary, table linens and napkins.
Made of some rare Italian stone,
both the lettering and the niche
of the doorway were carved before
the stone left its quarry.
For the niche, Cook had to
choose a statue or bust appropriate
to the building. In looking over the
crop of statues shown him, he
noticed "they are all angels and
saints and not a lawyer or a sin-
ner among them."
He finally chose a full-length
replica of Shakespeare's Portia,
whom he called "a full-throated,
woman of vivacity, poise and
feminine charm . .. who exposed
quaint laws and brought to book
the blood-thirsty Jew."
He also selected a full-sized
replica of Venus de Milo to grace
the end of the long, cloistered
entrance hall. She is an imposing
figure, seven feet tall with a 39
inch waist, who was shipped di-
rectly from the European quarry
"en toto" and took so long in com-
ing that everyone declared her to
be at the bottom of the sea.
Upon entering the building,

you're immediately confronted
with the aforementioned hall,
lined with austere wooden benches
and ended with the gleaming
Venus. On the left is a terrace,
complete with ancient, weather-
beaten teakwood tables and chairs.
BEYOND IS the large garden
with its famous magnolia and
Japanese locust trees. Designed by
the same landscapers'who planned
Central Park, it was purchased by
Cook as a place for the girls to en-
joy the air and sunshine.
Going back into the gloom of
the interior, the Red Room is on
the immediate right. This is a
small parlor done in red and gold
colors with a rich-looking array of
crimson velvet couches.
The room is filled with exotic
pottery, collected by a mysterious
missionary in Central China, and
special oak chairs which are said
to be exact copies of the one that
stood before the secret passage
through which Oliver Cromwell
chased Charles II.
The central decoration is a
huge, faded tapestry hanging on
one wall. In choosing this par-
ticular furnishing, Cook explained,
"the tapestry is a hunting scene
and I don't know whether such a
scene would fit in with that build-
ing unless they call it 'Uncle Wil-
liam Hunting Duck in the Seven-
teenth Century.' I'm not sure
whether it is a duck or a goose.
Judging from most of the peo-
ple I run across, I guess it is a
Leaving the Red Room, you
walk through a small, dark pass-
ageway known as the Sparking
Room. The casual visitor, how-.
ever, is usually not escorted to this
particular section of the building.
rE LARGEST parlor, The Blue
Room, is just beyond. Deco-
rated in the University's colors,
its main attraction isia huge grand
piano with an Italian Rennais-
sance design case of Caucasian
walnut. This masterpiece was de-
signed especially for Cook's own
house and reputedly has the best
tone of any such instrument in
Ann Arbor.
The panelling in the room is
also of impressive lineage. It is
authentic teakwood from the
Philippine Islands, reputedly kiln-
dried in this country for four
years before it found its place on
the walls.
The Blue Room decor is further
carried out by three rugs imported
from Ireland and several over-
stuffed davenports covered with
-English and French tapestry. The
room is highlighted by a huge
fireplace called "Angell Hearth" in
honor of President Emeritus James
B. Angell, and from the mantel a

igan House Plan, he met regu-
larly with students there.
We discussed anything that
came to mind, no holds barred
and any questions answered, he
recalls, Even the boys who worked
on The Daily refrained from re-
peating the discussions, he smiles.
"But I don't think you can do
things like that with the Univer-
sity as large as it is now. Why, a
president couldn't run around to
things like that now - it would
kill him."
Ruthven's abiding interest in
student residences stems from
work on the great student housing
program effected during ,his ad-
Under his direction, the self-
liquidating system of issuing reve-
nue bonds was used to erect
Stockwell Hall, Mosher-Jordan.
Hall and Alice C. Lloyd Hall for

Venus de Milo grac
bust of Cook peers down at th
Actual living quarters are at the
rear of the first floor, originall
built to house servants, and on the
top three floors. Each girl ha
either a single or double fully-
carpeted room, depending on her
preference and her chronological
Each floor is equipped with a
kitchennette in which breakfast is
served "en negligee" every Sunday

women; West Quadrangle, East
Quadrangle, South Quadrangle
and Victor Vaughan for men; and
University Terrace for married
The Michigan House Plaii came
into being, providing small units
within the larger residences. Adult
counseling"was supplied under this
plan, as were opportunities for
student recreation and cultural
development within the various

Back to Top

© 2024 Regents of the University of Michigan