History of the University
The University of Michigan was founded in Detroit in 1817 as one of the first public universities in the nation. It moved in 1837 to Ann Arbor, a new town with a population of 2,000. The town was named to honor the founders’ wives, Mary Ann Rumsey and Ann Allen, and the natural arbor created by massive oaks in the area. In its first year in Ann Arbor, the University had two professors and seven students. Its buildings consisted of four faculty homes and one classroom/dormitory building.
The University remained an all-male college until 1870 when the first female student, Madelon Stockwell, was admitted as an experiment. By the turn of the century, women made up about 46% of the student population. Even with these large numbers, it was not until 1954 that women were allowed through the front doors of the Michigan Union without an escort.
Throughout its history, the University has had many ‘firsts.’ From John F. Kennedy’s announcement of the Peace Corps on the front steps of the Michigan Union to the six U-M alums who have received Nobel Prizes, the University has been a leader in education and research. It is an institution respected throughout the world and is rich in tradition and resources.
The University of Michigan is comprised of the nineteen schools and colleges on the Ann Arbor campus, plus campuses in Flint and Dearborn. One third of the 40,000 students on the Ann Arbor campus are graduate students. You are admitted not to the University at large but to one of the schools or colleges, and your degree requirements are determined by your specific school or college. Decision-making on most academic policies is decentralized among the faculties from each of the schools or colleges.
The schools and colleges on the Ann Arbor campus are each headed by a dean, and are then subdivided into departments or divisions which manage specific curricula. A department’s teaching staff is composed of a variety of tenured and non-tenured faculty members and graduate students.
Each school or college outlines its rules, regulations, and academic policies in its official Bulletin. Bulletins will describe the unit, its admissions procedures, courses, degree programs and requirements, and list faculty members. You should read your own school’s Bulletin for the exact regulations that apply to you.
Major administrative, financial, and University-wide policies are decided by the President and other administrative officers, who report to the eight-member Board of Regents. Ultimate legal authority is vested in the Board of Regents, who are elected directly by the citizens of the state of Michigan. The Regents convene each month, and their meetings are open to the public.