The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

WHEN President Tappan appeared for the first time in a Regents' meeting, on December 21, 1852, two departments of the University were in operation, the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts, in early days referred to as the "Academical Department," and the Department of Medicine and Surgery, often called the "Medical Department." After Tappan had been here three years a general revision of the code of rules and regulations governing the "academical" faculty was undertaken, with a view to publication. In the completed code, adopted by the Regents in June, 1855, there is no mention of the University Senate. The date of its organization is uncertain. However, there is a record of a joint meeting of the faculties and the Regents on March 26, 1857 (MS, "Faculty Records," 1846-58, pp. 345-47). Also we know that the entire faculty of the University, in December, 1857, joined in a memorial to the Regents on the moral conduct of the students and the means employed to impress upon them sound moral and religious principles. At the same time a similarly signed memorial was directed to the mayor and common council of Ann Arbor, petitioning for a stricter enforcement of the laws of the town.

In March, 1859, the Regents adopted another revision of the rules and regulations. This document provided that, in order "to represent the University in general and as one institution, the professors of the several Faculties shall constitute a University Senate." The bylaws further stipulated that general parliamentary rules, as modified by rules and regulations of the Board of Regents, were to be observed in conducting the business of the University Senate. The Senate was to designate the time of daily prayers, which all the "academical" students were required to attend. The Senate was composed of the professors of all the faculties, but provision was made for a department of study to be represented by an assistant professor when there was no man of full rank. The president of the University served as president of the Senate, and a secretary was chosen from its own members. A majority of the Senate constituted a quorum, but no action of the Senate bound a faculty unless one of its members was present. The regular meetings were held on the first Monday of each month, and provision was made for special meetings. The Senate was charged with the responsibility of communicating its views to the Board of Regents, not only upon questions pertaining to the University, but also upon questions concerning the progress of education, science, and literature throughout the state.

It is possible that the University Senate had been organized for some time before the formulation of the 1859 code and that the Senate procedures as outlined therein were well established. If so, at least this was the first occasion upon which the Senate's existence and powers were formally recognized by the Regents.

On June 28, 1859, the Regents referred to the general faculties for consideration the code of rules and regulations which had been presented by the committee on that subject and requested that the faculties suggest to the Board such modifications as they might deem expedient. Two days later the Board ordered that an exception to the rule be made in the Page  232case of two assistant professors, by which action they were entitled to vote in the Senate meetings. The Board also directed that "it shall be the duty of instructors to attend upon the meetings of the appropriate Faculties and also of the University Senate, where they shall be entitled to sit but not to vote as members of the same." This is the first definite reference to the Senate in the Regents' Proceedings (1837-64, p. 855).

Soon after the change of administration in 1863 the Senate passed resolutions expressing its sense of duty to promote University welfare and pledging its support during that trying period. It also voiced full confidence in the character and ability of President Haven and at the same time expressed personal regard for Dr. Tappan and cordial wishes for his future happiness and usefulness.

The existence of an executive committee of the Senate early in the Haven administration is known from the record of an appointment by the faculty of the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts on December 5, 1864, when Professor Lucius D. Chapin was designated to serve on such a committee (MS, "Faculty Records," 1864-78, p. 10). The diary of Professor Alexander Winchell reveals that three days earlier the Senate had organized "a system of Literary and Social exercises to embrace all adult members of the Professors' families and such other persons of literary or scientific eminence as the Senate may invite" (Winchell, MS, "Diary," 1864-66, pp. 117-18). A similar proposal had been made by Professors Brünnow and Frieze in 1856 (MS, "Faculty Records," 1846-58, pp. 332-33).

The first "conversazione" of the University Senate was held at the home of President Haven on January 13, 1865, at which time he read an essay entitled "Origin of Public Opinion." Winchell records in his diary that at the Senate social on January 26, 1866, he presented a paper on "Woman"; the essay occupies sixty-six pages in his series of manuscript volumes of nonacademic speeches entitled "Popular" (I: 39-104). He records also that he wrote it in three days, that it took him one and three-eighths hours to present it, and that the discussion lasted until the meeting broke up. In this exposition he observed that by many peoples woman is considered inferior to man, but he maintained the equivalence of the sexes physically and mentally. He advocated that woman should have equal voice with man in affairs of state, the right to vote and to hold public office, equal proprietary rights, and equal educational privileges in all departments of the University. The Ann Arbor newspaper which reported the program related that the conversation which followed this address "was one of pleasantry and gallantry with no distinct opinions."

The Senate, or its executive committee, continued to hold business sessions. There is record of a meeting on January 14, 1864 — with fourteen members present, including President Haven — in which the Senate considered a protest implying interference by the former Board of Regents in the interior management of the University and improper meddling with the administration of University officers. The Senate passed a resolution to the effect that these accusations were false, that the Board had treated the faculty with consideration, and that internal management had not been interfered with; and the matter was referred to the superintendent of public instruction. Thomas M. Cooley was secretary of the Senate at the time.

In 1865 the Regents authorized Andrew Ten Brook, Librarian, to meet with the University Senate as an honorary member ex officio. In 1869 the librarian was constituted a regular member. It was in this same year that the Senate Page  233was called upon to make a report on the possible establishment of a gymnasium and to suggest the relationship of such an institution to the course of study. Four months later, in June, 1870, a committee presented a report advocating the building of an adequate gymnasium and the establishment of a department of hygiene and physical culture, to be in the charge of a man of full academic rank. The Senate did not press for any immediate action, because of the limitations of the University funds.

The social and literary meetings were held for many years. Acting President Frieze thought them conducive of unity and harmony, and in a letter to James B. Angell wrote:

I did not think to speak with you, among other things, of this characteristic institution of ours, the Senate. We meet about once a fortnight during the session of the three departments — for reading literary and scientific papers, one at each meeting, and then for an hour or two of social enjoyment. The meetings are held "round" at the houses of Professors. Result good every way.


(Vermont to Michigan, p. 119.)

The University Senate took an active interest in inviting James Burrill Angell to the presidency of the University. At the special meeting held on September 25, 1869, the following preamble and resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Whereas, We understand that the Regents of the Michigan University have tendered to Dr. James B. Angell the Presidency of the University,

Resolved, That we heartily concur in the appointment, and desire to express to Dr. Angell our confidence in his fitness for the position, our earnest wish that he may be induced to accept it, and an assurance of our faithful co-operation in the discharge of the duties which would be incumbent upon him in the management of the institution.

  • H. S. Frieze, Presid't of the Senate
  • C. K. Adams, Secy. of the Senate

Very little is known of the activity of the University Senate during the first ten years of President Angell's administration. Only one communication of importance to the Board of Regents is recorded during this period. It expresses the opinion that it is not desirable to restrict the power of conferring honorary degrees by the Board, and is signed by H. B. Hutchins.

William H. Pettee, Professor of Mineralogy, Economic Geology, and Mining Engineering, was elected secretary in October, 1881. He recorded on March 15, 1882: "The book containing the earlier records of the University Senate, from the date of its organization down to about the year 1879, has unfortunately been lost or mislaid; and all efforts to recover it have so far been unsuccessful." He began his records by copying from the minutes of November, 1880, and of August 2 and 5 and September 5, 1881, taken by Charles Kendall Adams, Secretary pro tem. The records of the University Senate from 1882 to the present are complete.

During President Angell's administration, the University Senate gave attention to many invitations to participate in the celebration of the anniversaries of other universities. Among them were the University of Bologna, which was celebrating its eight-hundredth anniversary, Harvard University, the University of Halle, and Columbia University, in addition to invitations for official delegates at Edinburgh, at Glasgow, at Winchester, at Moscow, and at the dedication of the Yerkes Observatory on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Consideration was also given to a possible exhibit at the New Orleans World's Fair, and plans were formulated for the semicentennial of the University of Michigan in 1887. When President Angell had completed twenty-five years of service, the Senate decided that the occasion deserved recognition and raised Page  234$1,000 to finance the functions of that occasion.

Early in the Angell administration it was customary for the Senate to make a public demonstration of its concern at the death of a member or former member of the staff. Occasionally, when the death occurred outside Ann Arbor, the entire University Senate or one of its committees went to the railroad station, met the relatives who brought the body, and became a part of the cortege to the cemetery. The body of James C. Watson, famous former member of the faculty who died in 1880, lay in state in University Hall until the funeral. The hall was draped in mourning, and the arrangements for the funeral were made by a Senate committee. At the death of Elisha Jones in 1888 the whole Senate attended the funeral. Special sessions were called, on occasion, at which memorials to the deceased were read, but in later years these memorials were presented at meetings called for other purposes. In all, thirty-one faculty members and former governors were memorialized. After the death of Mrs. Angell the Senate convened to express its sympathy and condolences to the President and to record high appreciation of her life and influence in the University community.

During these same years the Senate was concerned with the calendar of the University. The several departments were operating on academic years of different lengths. Gradually these were brought into uniformity. The first use of standard time occurred December 3, 1883, but later the University returned to sun time. This matter was before the Senate for about ten years, and finally standard time was adopted in 1902.

It was during this administration that athletics, in particular intercollegiate athletics, grew in importance in University life. The Senate was continually giving consideration to the supervision of student activities in this direction. Finally a board in control of athletics was organized and its annual reports were required to be read before the Senate. At the same time, to supervise the other student activities, a committee on nonathletic organizations came into existence.

As bicycles became more and more popular they created such a problem that they were considered a menace to the University campus. Regulations were adopted requiring that they travel at no greater speed than seven miles an hour and that they be equipped with bells and lanterns.

Even in the early stages of the Michigan Union that organization was recognized as so important that its financial secretary was elected by the University Senate. Henry M. Bates first served in this capacity. During the same period the Senate was concerned with the question of academic dress at official occasions. It was not until December, 1904, that definite action was taken with respect to this matter. The need for uniformity in admission requirements and in the discipline of students was continually a matter of discussion in the Senate. The development of a gymnasium and the establishment of an interval of five minutes between classes came about as a result of Senate action.

As the University grew, the Senate became so large that an executive committee, called the Senate Council, was organized in June, 1906. This group was composed of the president, the deans, one member each from the professional faculties, selected by them, and two from the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts, similarly chosen. Its purpose was to develop the influence of the Senate in University affairs.

One of the first topics that came before the University Senate after Harry B. Page  235Hutchins became President was the problem of campus sanitation, that is, the physical condition and appearance of the campus, protection against contagious diseases, and examination of the water system of Ann Arbor for the protection of the health of the University community. The inadequacy of the temporary quarters of the Michigan Union received the attention of the Senate, which passed resolutions in favor of a new building, with requests for alumni assistance in its erection (see Parts VIII and IX: The Michigan Union). The dedication of Hill Auditorium was planned by the Senate. The scale of University salaries, both in the academic year and in the summer session, received repeated consideration. Student affairs that were frequently discussed included the athletic situation, and arguments were presented relative to the return to the Western Conference. The discipline of students was placed under a standing committee, and the name of the committee on nonathletic organizations was changed to the committee on student affairs. The continuance or discontinuance of the J-Hop was repeatedly discussed.

The problems of foreign students were placed under a committee of advisers, and the Regents were petitioned to create an office of assistant to the president in relation to student activities. The faculty was much concerned with the question of academic dress and acquiesced in its use for Commencement and for a few special events, but objected to its use on numerous other occasions. In 1912, azure blue and maize were readopted from an original act of 1867 as the official colors of the University.

Again, in Hutchins' administration, the Senate passed resolutions in favor of a freer discussion of University problems in that body, voted for four regular meetings with the agenda announced forty-eight hours in advance, and provided for annual reports of all standing committees. At the initiative of Fred L. Keeler, Superintendent of Public Instruction, the University joined in a memorial service to President Angell soon after his death. The public and private schools generally over the state were encouraged to participate in similar meetings.

President Hutchins' leadership covers the period of the World War. It was during that time that military training was developed on the campus. The University Senate was in favor of making it compulsory, but the Regents authorized voluntary training. Prohibition in wartime was favored by the Senate, and resolutions expressing this sentiment were forwarded to President Wilson and to the members of Congress from Michigan. The public expression of members of the faculty in the aftermath of the war was a matter of great concern to the Senate. In the ten years of President Hutchins' administration there were read before the University Senate thirteen memorials to members of the faculty who had died. For this purpose no special meetings were called, the committees reporting either before or after the transaction of business.

During President Burton's administration the University Senate undertook the reorganization of the Executive Board of the Graduate School. It also initiated the committee on publications for the official announcements of the University. The committee on student affairs was reorganized, with the dean of students as chairman and the dean of women as a member ex officio. The purpose and function of the extension lectures received attention, and the University committee on discipline was organized to function by its present methods, though it was at that time a separate entity. The Senate heard memorials Page  236to eleven former members of the faculty read. Upon the initiative of Professor Kelsey, the Senate gave consideration to the revival of daily chapel exercises and midweek religious services. The Honors Convocation was organized in this period. At a number of meetings the question of the functions of the Senate received attention. One proposal was that debates on educational problems be held before the Senate. Favor was expressed toward the development of a naval-training unit. It was during Burton's administration that a definite formulation of academic requirements for appointment and promotion of the faculty was accomplished.

In December, 1922, the membership was authorized by the Regents as follows: the University Senate should consist of the president of the University as ex officio chairman, all the teaching force above the rank of instructor, and other administrative officers whose membership the Regents from time to time might authorize. The Board defined the functions of the Senate as follows (Bylaws, 1922, p. 20):

  • a) The University Senate is authorized and expected to originate and consider measures for the maintenance of a liberal and comprehensive policy of education; for the maximum utilization of the intellectual resources of the University; for the government, guidance, and discipline of the student body and the oversight of its activities; and, generally, to consider all subjects that relate to the usefulness, leadership, and effectiveness of the University, and to the co-ordination of the functions of its several schools and colleges; and to make recommendations thereon to the Regents.
  • b) It may require gymnasium work of the students, under conditions approved by the Board of Regents.

During the short term of Acting President Lloyd, the University Senate had two meetings, both of which were devoted to the reading of memorials to members of the faculty, including Marion LeRoy Burton. It also received from the University of Minnesota and Smith College statements of appreciation of the late President Burton, who had been their former president.

During the four years of President Little's administration the Senate met twenty times. It provided the manner of selection of the recipient of the Henry Russel Award, which had been established by the Regents for conspicuous service to the University by a member of the faculty of lower than professorial rank. The Senate also concerned itself with the congestion which had developed in parking automobiles on the campus and authorized a committee to formulate regulations for this matter. There was a reorganization of the committee on student affairs, and the calendar was revised. The librarian was given the status of a dean. Thirteen memorials were presented.

A matter of great concern in the early months of President Little's regime was the place of physical education in the University and the University's responsibility in such matters. A study was made by a special committee on University athletics, under the leadership of Dean Edmund E. Day, this committee having been appointed by Acting President Lloyd. The study was carried on over a number of months. The report advocated additional requirements of physical education in the curricula of the University, the erection of a stadium for intercollegiate football and of other structures for intramural sports for both men and women, and the recasting of the governing board dealing with these matters.

In an attempt to bring about a freer discussion of University problems, the Senate Council was reorganized to include in its membership, besides the president, deans, and the director of the Extension Division, nineteen members Page  237chosen by the faculties of the several schools and colleges. These elected representatives constituted a committee of the Senate on University affairs, charged with the responsibility of formulating recommendations to the president and the Board of Regents or to the president and the University Senate. During the two years of its existence a wide range of topics received consideration.

To the University Senate, President Little brought a proposal for the organization of a new unit to be known as the University College. This was presented through a large committee on undergraduate studies, which worked for approximately two years on the subject.

President Ruthven presided for the first time at the meeting of the University Senate on November 11, 1929. Shortly, the Senate combined the committee on vocational counsel and placement and the Teachers' Placement Bureau to form the University Bureau of Appointments and Occupational Information. Provision was made for University committees on accredited schools, on the lectures of the Oratorical Association, and on theater policy and practice. On April 10, 1930, a special meeting of the Senate was called to receive the memorials to Robert M. Wenley, Charles H. Cooley, Ralph H. Curtiss, and Judge Victor H. Lane. A few months later the Senate decided that memorials in the future were to be presented to the faculty with which the deceased member had been associated.

On May 11, 1931, the Senate Council presented a plan for a new organization, the University Council, to be composed of administrative officers appointed by the president and of representatives selected by the several faculties. The Senate delegated its functions to the new council but retained the right of review. The Senate Council and the Senate committee on University affairs were abolished. A statement of the new council's activities is placed in a separate article (see Part II: The University Council).

At the meetings of December 14, 1936, and January 25, 1937, the Senate considered the possibility of a more adequate expression of faculty opinion in the affairs of the University. It voted that there should be held each year at least two meetings of the Senate and advised that a study be made of the operations of the University Council. It provided for the election by the Senate of an advisory committee on University affairs. This committee consults with the president from time to time and holds membership in the University Council.

The first secretary of the Senate, so far as is known from the records, was Thomas M. Cooley, who signed a document on January 14, 1864, in the aftermath of the Tappan crisis (Ten Brook, p. 249). Charles Kendall Adams was serving in this capacity on September 25, 1869, when the Senate endorsed the invitation to the presidency extended to James B. Angell (Vermont to Michigan, p. 119). Harry B. Hutchins was secretary later, as indicated by a communication to the Regents, dated June 23, 1874, concerning the policy of granting honorary degrees. Charles K. Adams was acting pro tem in the summer and fall of 1881, when memorials were presented to James Craig Watson, Governor J. J. Bagley, Erastus O. Haven, and George P. Williams. The first election of a secretary of which there is record is that of William H. Pettee on October 10, 1881. He served until his death, May 26, 1904. He was succeeded by John O. Reed, whose tenure of office was three and one-half years, and then by Fred N. Scott for one year. Arthur G. Hall was secretary for six years, and Joseph L. Markley and John W. Bradshaw for eight years each. The present secretary, Louis A. Hopkins, was elected May 12, 1930.