The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, February 2, 2000 - 5
'U' holds memorial
for former CFO
By Jeannie Baumann
Daily Staff Reporter
A memorial service is scheduled for
today in honor of former University
Vice President Wilbur Pierpont, who
died last week at age 85 from a heart
attack while playing golf near his
home in Sarasota, Fla.
Pierpont served as the University's
chief financial officer from 1951 to 1977.
"He established the financial strength
of the University and called forth the
highest standards of professionalism
from all those who worked in business
and finance at the University of Michi-
gan," said Robert Kasdin, the Universi-
ty's current chief financial officer.
Prior to becoming vice president,
Pierpont served as the University's
controller as well as a professor in the
School of Business Administration.
After his term as chief financial officer
ended, he continued to teach account-
ing until officially retiring from the
University in 1980.
Economics and Public Policy Prof
Paul McCracken, who worked with
a Pierpont, said in a written statement
that Pierpont is generally considered
the best business vice president of any
university in the country.
"He understood how to run a tight
ship in terms of management, and he
understood it was not the business vice
president's job to determine the pro-
gram," McCracken said.
Pierpont is survived by his wife
Maxine, two children and three grand-
Former University President
Robben Fleming, whose term lasted
from 1968 to 1978, also praised
Pierpont's job as chief financial offi-
started from a
position that if a
person had a good
idea, he'd support
- Robben Fleming
Former University president
"It is easy for someone who is a
chief financial officer to become so
careful that it is hard to get changes
through," Fleming said in a written
statement. "Bill always started from a
position that if a person had a good
idea, he would support it. He had the
trust and confidence of the (University
Board of) Regents, which is priceless
for any president."
In 1996, the North Campus Com-
mons building was dedicated in honor
During his tenure as vice president,
the University purchased the land that
became North Campus.
The School of Business Administra-
tion also has a professorship named in
"The greatest honor of my career has
been to hold the Wilbur K. Pierpont
Collegiate Professorship," Business
School Dean B. Joseph White said.
The memorial service is planned for
2 p.m. today at the First United
Methodist Church, located at 120 S.
State St., with a reception to follow the
Some of the many legends
W In America: 'if the sun
shines on Groundhog Day, half
the fuel, half the hay.
a In Scotland: "If Candlemas
Day is bright and clear,
there'll be two
winters in the year."
a In Germany: "For as the sun
shines on Candlemas Day, so
far will the snow swirl until
May. For as the snow blows
on Candlemas Day, so far will
the sun shine before May.'
i Old English Saying: "if Can-
diemas be fair and bright, win-
ter has another flight. If
Candlemas brings clouds and
rain, winter will not come
Phil's Record since 1887:
i Saw Shadow: 89 times
£ No Shadow: 14 times:
E No Record: 9 times
Source: Punxsutawney Ph i website
The world's smallest and fuzziest
weatherman will make his appearance
today on a holiday named for the
Groundhog's Day, a celebration
taken from ancient pagan and Christ-
ian celebrations, was thought to
commemorate the midpoint between
the winter solstice and the spring
"The equinox is when the sun cross-
es the equator," astronomy associate
Prof. Richard Sears said. "In the
Northern Hemisphere the days start
The solstice is when the sun reaches
its northern or southernmost point.
"Feb. 2 has no significance," Sears
said "It's not quite the midpoint"
The Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore
Center at Franklin and Marshall
College in Lancaster is the home of
the earliest known documented ref-
erence to a Groundhog's Day tradi-
"It probably was a pagan tradition
that got intertwined into the Christian
religion," Lancaster County historian
Jack Loose said.
Storekeeper James Morris, in his
1841 diary, described a Groundhog's
By Lindsey Alpert
Daily Staff Reporte
Phil poised for prediction
Day tradition and its use as an indi-
cation of the upcoming month's
"Groundhog's Day was called
Candlemas Day, which goes back to
the Middle Ages. It was celebrated
as one of the famous feast days,"
Christianized Ronans brought the
tradition to the Germans during the
first millennium, who centuries later
became the earliest settlers of Pennsyl-
Loose said a badger was original-
ly used instead of a groundhog, but
since there was an abundance of
groundhogs in Pennsylvania, the tra-
dition of using the furry creature
As the story goes, if a groundhog
sees its shadow, there will be six
more bitter weeks of winter.
But if the groundhog does not see
his shadow, spring is right around the
The groundhog, a member of the
squirrel family, generally hibernates
in the winter but reawakens in Feb-
One of the most famous groundhogs
is Pennsylvania's Punxsutawney Phil,
Seer of Seers. Sage of Sages. Prognos-
ticator of Prognosticators and Weather
Prophet Extraordinary - or "Phil" for
Phil has predicted the weather since
1887 in Punxsutawney, about an hour
northeast of Pittsburgh.
The ball of fur has had the privi-
lege of meeting President Reagan in
the Oval Office, has been a guest on
the Oprah Winfrey Show and even.
had a movie based him - the 1994
movie "Groundhog's Day."
Today nearly 30,000 people will
go t Gobbler's Nob in Punx-
sutawney, where Phil is placed in a
heated burrow and is then taken out
at 7:25 a.m. to make his official
During the rest of the year, Phil is
kept at the Punxsutawney Public
Library, where the 15-pound
groundhog feasts on dog food and
"The people that celebrate Ground-
hog's Day are basically social organi-
zations who like to get together and
have a fun time," Loose said.
The weather forecast for Pennsylva-
nia tomorrow includes partly cloudy.
skies with a high temperature of 3,
degrees, so the groundhog might not
see his shadow.
"I'm just worried that he won't be
able to pop out," LSA senior Julia.
Maycock said. "I bet he's frozen
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