University of Michigan

views updated May 08 2018


UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN was established by an act of the Michigan Territory legislature on 26 August 1817, funded with several private grants, including lands ceded by area Native Americans. The act provided for a complete structure of state-supported education that would include a "Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania." The vision, based on Napoleonic concepts of state-based public instruction, never fully materialized and little is known of the first two decades of the university. When Michigan became a state in 1837, its first constitution provided for a complete system of public instruction overseen by a superintendent. The first to hold that office, John D. Pierce, proposed that the state establish a university with three departments: literature, science, and the arts; medicine; and law. The legislature adopted the proposal and the university was located in Ann Arbor, where construction began on a new campus, partially funded through the sale of lands from the university's earlier presence in Detroit. During the first years, the presidency of the university rotated among its small faculty.

In 1851, Michigan revised its constitution and provided for the university to be separated from the office of the superintendent and charged an elected board of regents to "have the general supervision … and control of all expenditures." This constitutional independence has been a critical factor in the development of the university. Funds for the university were designated through a land tax, which grew as the state quickly developed in the latter part of the century. In 1852, the regents named Henry Philip Tappan the first appointed president of the university. Tappan had high ambitions fueled by his interest in emerging German models of instruction and scholarship. This combination of constitutional independence, strong finances, and energetic leadership largely accounts for the prominence achieved by the university so early in its history.

Over the years, the university expanded to engage as wide a range of intellectual and professional concerns as any university in the country. The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts was established in 1841, followed by medicine (1850); law (1859); dentistry (1875); pharmacy (1876); engineering (1895); a graduate school (1912), named for Horace H. Rackham in 1935; architecture and urban planning (1913), named in 1999 for A. Alfred Taubmann; education (1921); business administration (1924); natural resources and the environment (1927); music (1940); nursing (1941); public health (1941); social work (1951); information (1969), formerly library science; art and design (1974); kinesiology (1984); and public policy (1995), named in 2000 for President Gerald R. Ford, who graduated from the university in 1935. Through a gift from the Mott Foundation a branch campus was established in Flint in 1958, and through a gift from Ford Motor Company, a branch was established in Dearborn on the grounds of the Henry Ford Estate in 1959.

In 1870 the regents passed a resolution allowing women to attend the university. Other notable events in the history of the university include the announcement on 12 April 1955 of the successful field test of the Salk vaccine under the direction of Professor Thomas Francis; John F. Kennedy's speech on 14 October 1960 on the steps of the Michigan Union, where he defined the idea of a "peace corps"; and President Lyndon B. Johnson's commencement speech on 22 May 1964, in which he outlined a vision of America that he called the "Great Society."

The university is among the most prominent public research universities in the country. Total enrollment on all campuses in fall 1999 was 52,602, of which 37,828 were on the Ann Arbor Campus. University libraries in 2000 held more than 7.2 million volumes. Sponsored research in the academic year 1998–1999 amounted to just under $500 million. The University Health System included three hospitals and more than 150 health centers and clinics. The total operating budget for the university was $2.9 billion in 1998–1999.


Peckham, Howard H. The Making of the University of Michigan. Edited and updated by Nicholas H. Steneck and Margaret L. Steneck. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Bentley Historical Library, 1994.

Shaw, Wilfred Byron, ed. University of Michigan: An Encyclopedic Survey. 8 vols. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1941–1958.

Francis X.Blouin

See alsoEducation, Higher: Colleges and Universities ; Universities, State .


views updated May 23 2018

MTS Acronym for Michigan terminal system. An operating system that was developed at the University of Michigan in the late 1960s, and was specifically intended to offer interactive computing to large numbers of users, each carrying out relatively straightforward tasks.


views updated May 14 2018

MTS Master of Theological Studies
• Merchant Taylors' School
• Computing Michigan terminal system
• motor transport service
• (USA) multichannel television sound


views updated Jun 11 2018

Mts Mountains
• Mounts

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University of Michigan