The Michigan Daily-Thursday, September 9, 1982--Page 178
50 years later: Would Little have been better?
By BARRY WITT
Fifty-seven years ago, C. C. Little
avoided the issue of the financial perils
of higher education in his inaugural ad-
dress as president of the University. In-
stead of speaking on that favorite topic
of administrator, past and present, Lit-
9 thought it appropriate to talk about
Reduction, reallocation, retrench-
ment, and budget austerity were not a
part of Little's vocabulary; although,
he faced financial troubles similar to
those of administrators of other eras.
His speech focused on the education of
students at the University.
'7tS THE ULTIMATE object of higher
education to train youth merely to
utilize successfully the existing con-
t of life, or is to train it to attempt
build the future of our civilization?"
Little asked at the opening of his
Little answered the latter, of course,
as"would most administrators of the
present era. Yet, so many years later,
some University programs still are
designed "for the production 'of
material success at middle age," an
educational system which Little
Hailed as a progressive reformer
Qmthe East Coast, Little assumed the
office of president in 1925, only to resign
suddenly four years later, frustrated in
his. Inability to get reluctant faculty,
Board of Regents, and Ann Arbor
community to go along with his refor-
LITTLE WAS NOT as concerned with
students achieving good grades as he
was with students learning how to
learn. He decried the use of "arbitrary
ades involving no necessary change
Sattitude" rather than "an increasing
ability to think and create" as
qualification for receiving awards of
distinction in college.
Little spoke of the "maturity of a
student," which he said was marked by
the, "transition from digestion of
college work to creative endeavors."
Once a student has broken past that
barrier, he said, the institution should
free him from "concentration and
*sribution" and allow him to pursue
research as a scholar.
In order to achieve an academic en-
vironment most conducive to such a
development in students, he tried to
restrict the lifestyles of students so that
they could keep their minds on school.
~ Over-emphasis of, and intermiperen-
ce in, automobiling, use of liquor and
petting among students of our univer-
sities must be stopped, because it is not
the time or the place to investigate or to
decide these matters," Little said in the
SUCH SUGGESTIONS were received
poorly by students then and seem
almost ridiculous today, but his
motivations were not moralistic-they
only intended to provide the best
education possible during the few years
a student attends school.
"No taunt of impropriety need be
chanted by the virtuous," he continued,
"It is merely a matter of common sen-
se. For a student to insist that these mat-
ters be continually forced upon a
university is a just cause for his or her
dismissal on the ground of unintelligen-
In his speech, Little only digressed once
from his discussion of students, and
then to talk about football-a subject
which he knew would receive so much
attention in the years to come. He noted
the "certain unpleasant sentiments"
that surround the consideration of "the
great business organizations which
have grown up in almost all American
universities to handle the hundreds of
thousands of dollars paid by the spec-
tators for the privilege of witnessing
various forms of intercollegiate con-
HE POINTED TO two elements that
led to faculty distaste for football: first,
the athletic organization "shows little
interest in academic excellence but
much and most effective interest in
maintaining minimum eligibility
requirements"; and second, coaches'
salaries seemed large compared to the
pay for faculty members who have
spent so many years preparing for their
He warned against the growing
professionalism of intercollegiate foot-
ball, but he was not overzealous in his
criticism of its growth. Rather, he
cautioned the faculty to avoid letting
personal jealousy or closedmindedness
to lead some "otherwise brilliant in-
dividuals (to) forget the enthusiasms of
"For some 19-year-old youngster,
blessed with a powerful physique, a
clear eye, speed and courage to receive
public recognition far surpassing that
given to the discovery of fossil eggs
thus proving that certain of the
dinosaurs were oviparous, is, to certain
minds, anathema," he said.
AMONG THE PROJECTS started
during Little's tenure were the orien-
tation program (then called "Fresh-
man Week") and the construction of the
But the acceptance of a donation for
the construction of another campus
building-the law library-led to Lit-
tle's resignation. When William Cook, a
wealthy lawyer who paid for most of the
Law Quad, announced his plans to
donate money for the library, the
Regents were delighted. But Little was
critical of the stupulations Cook put on
exactly what the library should have.
Against Little's recommendation, the
Regents accepted Cook's donation.
Little argued that a donor should
allow the officials of the University to
determine exactly how money should
be spent, but the Regents weren't about
to turn down. a gift as large as the one
Cook was proposing.
IN ADDITION to the conflict with the
Regents, Little also experienced
trouble with residents of Ann Arbor. His
plan to create a system of University
dormitories threatened to eliminate an
important source of revenue for many
local residents who ran student boar-
ding houses. The Regents' initial en-
thusiasm for the dorms project waned
as community pressure mounted.
Little also had a broad plan for
bringing the alumni closer to the
University, a plan which the Regents
did not fully support.
And Little's most ambitious
proposal-the creation of a University
College-met with resistence from
some of the faculties. The University
College would have created a basic
program of education for all students in
their first two years.
Although most of the campus suppor-
ted the idea of the College, which was
scheduled to begin in 1930, the faculties
of the engineering and literary colleges
opposed it. Little felt the program
would be doomed to failure without
nearly unanimous support.
IN HIS LETTER of resignation in
January 1929, Little said, "My methods
of handling situations dealing with in-
terests of private donors, political in-
terests, 'local' interests, and alumnae
interests, are not consistent with
policies the Board of Regents deem
The Daily editorial following Little's
resignation said "Michigan Turns Its
Back on a Genius." The elite senior
editors, heralding Little as the greatest
potential educator in the entire nation,
blamed "the middle class minds of the
Middle West" for forcing Little out.
"The insistence of the president on
this matter (of the law library) was
made in the best interests of the in-
stitution as a place for education; the
decisions of the Regent were no doubt
made with an eye on the financial stan-
ding of the University. We leave it to the
judgement of the reader to select the
highest and most worthy aim. To the
Daily the answer seems obvious."
With the advantage of hindsight, it
appears the Daily was wrong in its
assessment of the issue; the law library
may be the University's finest struc-
NEVERTHELESS, OTHERS joined
the Daily in mourning the University's
loss. The Nation wrote: "It is said that
he went too fast; that he was too far
ahead of his time; that he wanted to in-
troduce eastern college methods into
the western college world; that he was
too outspoken. The truth is that he
believed in birth control and said so,
with the result that the Catholics in the
state rose in arms against him. He did
not believe in the narrow nationalism of
the Daughters of the American
Revolution and he said so, and there
were the inevitable vindictive replies.
He thought that respect for the law
should be upheld on the campus, and
kept his mind on students
therefore he invited prohibition officers
.. , and that made students angry. He
opened the University to all kinds of
opinions, and that was resented. In
other words, he was a reformer with the
courage of his convictions, and he paid
the price of this reactionary age."
The more conservative Ann Arbor
Daily News (later changed to the Ann
Arbor News) accepted Little's
resignation as "inevitable."
RATHER THAN being critical of
society's values, the Daily News said,
"His ambitions and his policies were
simply out of place in the present stage
of Michigan's development."
The Daily News editorialist did,
however, pen what was perhaps the
most accurate description of the man:
"He was impatient, and he was not suf-
ficiently tactful. His eagerness an-
tagonized other men and aroused their
opposition. He appeared to some of
these men to be dogmatic, but it is
likely that impression resulted from a
failure to appreciate his earnestness.
No. 6 Nickels Arcade
Evening Appointments Available! Redkin
Doily Photo by BRIAN MASCK
The funds for the library's construction led to
FLOOD LIGHTS ILLUMINATE the magnificent Law Library.
Clarence Cook Little's resignation as University president.
Raiders of a lost art marched to
the Hill and began a campus fad
By JOEL BERGER,
It was not a dark and stormy night.
But then, that was precisely the
ason why The World's First Panty'
id-the enduring symbol of college
life in the 1950s and hereinafter'
referred to as TWFPR-began about
6:30 p.m. March 21, 1952.
INOTE THE date-the first day of
spring . . . after months of gray, cold
weather, the temperature was 57.
,. There is agreement that TWFPR
biegan in the middle of Madison Street
between what then were exclusively
nen's dormitories, South Quadrangle
d West Quadrangle. South Quad was
anking new, having opened in
January. In West Quad, a trumpeter
was practicing rather loudly near an
open window. In South Quad, a trom-
bonist reciprocated. There were cries
of-"Knock it off"-a fog horn blatted-
apd a hi-fi played "Slaughter on Tenth
Avenue" (accompanied, it was repor-
ted, by two tubas) through another open
~After a few scattered remarks from
%uad to Quad, Madison Street suddenly
filled with young males who wondered
once there just what they would do
next. Then, the immortal cry-"To the
Iill!" It echoed and the group (crowd?
nob?) moved away toward what was
the women's residence area-the Alice
Lloyd, Mosher-Jordan, and Stockwell
.R HOUSE mothers (a now-forgotten
term) had received hurried telephone
lls alerting them to the onrushing
Krdes. The women students (then
kpown as coeds and even as girls) were
told to stay away from the windows and
lock themselves in their rooms.
Nonetheless, a few Alice Lloyd
residents had put red shades on their
desk lamps before placing them near
windows. This spurred a few males to
climb into the dorm, go downstairs, and
throw open the locked doors to the
multitude. The result-males ram-
aged through the hallways of the
women's dormitories, pawing through
lingerie'in dressers. It should be noted
that some women threw their garments
AFTER RUNNING out of steam on
The Hill, the men retreated. However,
chanting droves of women students
then descended on the Michigan Union
where, the Daily reported, "the san-
ctified front doors were thrown open"
to them. The women also attempted to
enter West and South Quads.
The males reformed, again marched
on The Hill and Victor Vaughan House
(then a women's residence).
And so it went until finally, around
1:15 a.m., a rain began and TWFPR
ended. The night's events drew to a
close. There were no arrests. Breakage
damages totaled a few hundred dollars.
And so the first day of spring 1952 had
come to Ann Arbor. But the story did
not stop there, for Life magazine a few
weeks later ran an article on the night's
events, accompanied by photographs
taken by the students. The result-once
again Michigan led the nation as "pan-
ty raids" erupted from coast to coast.
At the time, it all seemed a bit risque.
5 NICKELS ARCADE
ANN ARBOR, MI 48108
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A. PIRGIM (purge'em) n. Public Interest
Research Group in Michigan, better
known as PIRGIM. 2. supported by
student contributions at registration. 3.
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