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August 08, 1949 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1949-08-08

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"AGE TWO

TiE MICIIGAN DAILY

._ _ _ _____

woomm" Y

Michigan
Story
(Continued from Page 1)
intellectual science. This program,
actually very sound for its day,
was soon supplemented with the
establishment of primary schools
at three other territorial settle-
ments.
* * *
AT THE OUTSET, the two cler-
gymen constituted the entire fac-
ulty-Rev. Monteith receiving a
salary of $25 annually in the of-
fice of president, and Father Rich-
ard teaching all seven courses for
$18.75 yearly.
In 1821, the institution was
more handily named the Univer-
sity of Michigan, and immed-
iately beset with financial dark
days.
Newly-hired faculty members
were warned that they would con-
tinue teaching at their own risk,
and the Board of Trustees was
compelled to rent part of the Uni-
versity's only building to the in-
fant Detroit Board of Education.
IT IS INTERESTING to note
that the institution partially owed
its continued existence to the gen-
erosity of certain regional Indian
tribes. They had been prompted
at an earlier date, apparently out
of genuine interest in the. white
man's education, to specifically re-
linquish certain lands to the two
clergymen. More than a century
,afterward, the University was to
express its gratitude for the red
men's unexpected favor: in 1932,
the Regents established five schol-
arships specifically reserved for
deserving individuals of Indian de-
;rscent.
When, with the passing of
years, the Michigan territory's
population had rocketed to 100,-
000 and statehood had been
achieved, the Legislature passed
the historic act of March 18,
1837. The.first American uni-
versity to be governed by a pop-
ularly elected board of regents
had come into official being.
Meanwhile-as the need for a
large, permanent home for the
University became apparent-var-
ious Michigan communities began
offering plots of land. Finally,'it
was the vigorous and picturesque
little village of Ann Arbor that
was selected.
ALTHOUGH THE existence of
the University had been made offi-
cial in 1837, it was not until 1841
that its doors were first opened to
students.
By that time, the still-surviv-
ing Mason Hall and four faculty
residences had been erected on
the expansive forty acre plot.
Of the four residences, only one
has not been displaced - the
present-day President's House.
Finally, preparations were com-
plete, and in the fall of 1841 a
faculty of two-a Presbyterian and
an Episcopalian-greeted an en-
rollment of six students.
At the same time, the financial
status of the institution had again
grown precarious, and the Regents
were forced to close the early ex-
tension schools. Only a loan of
$100,000 from the State appears
to have saved the day.
* * *
BY 1850, THE picture began to
brighten up. Enrollment-had risen
;o 159 and another academic struc-
ture, identical with Mason Hall,
was erected - a structure which
survives today as the South Wing
of University Hall. The first Med-
ical Building had been completed
in 1848.
It was a "spartan" life led by
the University's first students-
carrying wood from an off-cam-
pus pile, tending their own quar-

ters in the Mason hall dormi-
tory, and securing mcals from
cooperative townsfolk. Their fi-
nancial rigors, however, appear
to have been less severe: meals
were offered at a cost of $1.50
a week, and the University tui-
tion and residence fees amount-
ed to only $10.

When the University had hap-
,lily weathered the financial storm
of its first decade, it was almost
immediately plunged into an al-
most disastrous intramural fracus.
FRATERNITY LIFE had been
transplanted at an early date to
the Michigan campus, and the lo-
zal Chi Psi chapter had establish-
ed its house in a wooded area at
some distance from the campus.
A paternalistic faculty frown-
ed on this system as being "un-
democratic, exclusive, excessive,
and depredatory," and took mea-
sures to abolish it. When the
students hotly contested such
authority, they were greeted
with a barrage of expulsions.
A continued struggle finally won
reinstatement of the students and
the fraternity- system, but the an-
tagonisms which had been bred
were not easily forgotten.
* * *
TO MAKE matters even worse,
the political question of that day
-abolition-had been posed with
all its force on the Michigan cam-
pus.
A strong executive hand was
obviously needed, and in 1850 the
,onstitutional convention made the
office of president--vacant until
then-obligatory.
The strong hand ned was pro-
vided by Henry Philip Tappan.
Henry Philip Tappan...
Although the convention of
1850 provided for a president, the
office remained unfilled until 1852.
In addition to the fraternity up-
roar and the persecution of pro-
fessors of anti-slavery convictions,
the University's financial balance
had slumped to a. fantastic low-
only $9.66, according to one his-
torian.
Before the oldsBoard of Regents
retired en masse at the clome of
the year 1850, it further crippled
the rapidly failing University with
the dismissal of two professors
because of their abolitionist ten-
dencies.
STILL, THERE was one glirn-
mer of life on the generally di-
mal scene: on the distant eastern
boundry of the Ann Arbor cam-
pus, the medical department had
in 1850 established itself in a new
building. In the fall of that year,
ninety earnest young medics en-
tered - putting to shame the
squabbling literary college.
Fortunately, the appointment
of a new Board of Regents early
in 1852 marked the beginning
of an upswing in University
fortunes. In the summer of
that year, Henry Philip Tappan
--recognized as one of the fore-
most educators of the time-
was offered the Michigan presi-
dency. He accepted in Septem-
ber.
Tappan was an exceedingly im-
pressive figure-so much so that
it was difficult for many of the
people of the "backwoods" State
to gracefully accept his presence.
He was 47 years of age, a tower-

ing six feet, four inches tall, and
possessed of a remarkable talent
for public speaking.
* * *
WHEN HE arrived in Ann Ar-
bor-obviously with the aura of a
somewhat condescending mission-
ary-he found the University con-
sisting of the original forty acre
campus, the two recitation-dor-
mitory buildings, the new medical
building, and the four professors'
houses. The literary faculty was
made up of only six professors,
and the department's enrollment
had dropped to 57 students. The
medical department, on the other
hand, had continued to grow in
spite of the University's general
decline, and now boasted of 157
students and five professors.
It was with Tappan's arrival
that the really significant his-
tory of the University began.
He wasted no time in assuming1
control with almost dictatorial
vigor, and progress was immed-
iately evident.
The new president was amazed
to find space in campus buildings
being taken up with student dor-

mitories, and it was not long be-
fore necessity brought the tradi-
tional Ann Arbor boarding house
into being and in the newly val
cated Mason Hall space,;president
Tappan established a museum.
His request for appropriations
to expand the library, and to es-
tablish a laboratory, an observa-
tory, and a fine arts gallery rather
stunned the plodding Michigan
Legislature. However, funds were
generally granted, and the end of
the Tappan "regime" was to see
these goals, and many others, well
accomplished.
f .
IN ADDITION to improvIng the
physical facilities of the Univer-
sity, President Tappan also vig-
orously set out to build a respect-
ed faculty. He banished the re-
ligious considerations which had
previously influenced the hiring
of professors, and conducted an
unqualified search for men of
genuine academic stature.
The Chancellor--as Tappan
liked to call himself-broadened
the University's facilities to in-
See MICHIGAN, Page 3

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