A University between Two Centuries: The Proceedings of the 1937 Celebration of the University of Michigan

A University between Two Centuries: The Proceedings of the 1937 Celebration of the University of Michigan

A University between Two Centuries: The Proceedings of the 1937 Celebration of the University of Michigan

A University between Two Centuries: The Proceedings of the 1937 Celebration of the University of Michigan

Excerpt

It is a characteristic of college men and women to set up some real or fancied basis of distinction between various universities and colleges, a practice which often extends to the nonacademic world. The graduates of this and that institution are said to exhibit characteristics which set them off from the students and alumni of other institutions. Therefore, with the hundredth anniversary of the establishment of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, celebrated in June, 1937, the University invited, inevitably, a consideration of whatever special aspects it may possess, as well as the educational fundamentals for which it has come to stand. While considerable experience with American educational institutions leads me to believe that these differentiations are often exaggerated, there are, nevertheless, certain basic, often unrecognized elements in the progressive development of any college or university which tend to give it a special character.

Some of the influences which have been most potent in shaping the University's course go back to Michigan's beginnings in territorial days when its earlier incarnation, the Catholepistemiad, or University, of Michigania was established one hundred and twenty years ago in Detroit as the embodiment of a state system of education. In this plan the University was to be the capstone of an educational pyramid which began with the primary schools. This idea, novel for the time and place, was accepted at once, but it was not put into practice until Michigan was organized as a state and the University in its present form was established in Ann Arbor. When the latter step was taken, just a century ago, two things became clear: the University was to be an institution of the people, and it was to represent the highest academic and scholarly ideals. Lack of funds and small enrollment limited early realization of these aims.

Beginning with Henry Philip Tappan, who came from the . . .

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