THE Michigan Alumni Ten-Year Program, designed as a tangible means by which the graduates and former students of the University could evince their interest in the institution, was announced formally on March 12, 1927. A few days later, March 18, it was described in a broadcast by Elmer J. Ottaway, President of the Alumni Association, as a "new and higher ideal of alumni relations."
This ten-year program was Ottaway's conception. When he was asked, in the summer of 1926, to accept election as president of the Alumni Association, he stated that he did not desire the honor unless he could devise some constructive program for the organization. The Michigan Alumni Ten-Year Program was the result of his study of the problem and of his numerous conferences with alumni leaders and with University officers.
Ottaway accepted the presidency on December 14 and at once issued to the alumni a call to service, which was really an announcement of the ten-year program. As the project developed it became a threefold program — first, a survey of the alumni to determine their interests and attitude; second, participation in President Little's plan for an Alumni University and the development, within the Alumni Association, of a perfected mechanism of alumni activity; and, third, the cataloguing of the special needs of the University and the satisfaction of those needs by the alumni, either as groups or as individuals.
The program was launched officially at the third national dinner of the Alumni Association at the Michigan Union in Ann Arbor on January 21, 1928, when President Little described his Alumni University idea and President Ottaway told of the Alumni Association plans. Several months later, at the second triennial Page 384celebration of University of Michigan clubs in Chicago, May 10-12, the University of Michigan clubs of Detroit and Ann Arbor announced the adoption of projects in the program, Ann Arbor offering its help in the financing of a campanile and Detroit affirming its espousal of the campus dormitory program.
The ten-year program, in its financial phase, is unique among alumni efforts in behalf of educational institutions. It abandoned, in principle, the popular scheme of alumni funds, that is, of general campaigns for the raising of endowment or operating funds, and has also avoided the plan of a widespread solicitation of money for any large, but specific, enterprise. It is based, primarily, on the idea that each individual or group shall undertake to satisfy some specific need of the University, large or small, and that such accomplishment is the sole achievement of that individual or group.
Its name, as time developed, proved a not particularly happy one. Originally, it was believed that the goal could be accomplished in ten years and that an "achievement celebration" could be held at the time of the observance of the University's centennial in 1937. But before the ten-year period had passed the Regents recognized the real birth date of the University of Michigan as August 26, 1817, and — still more important — the depression prevented the alumni from giving financial help to the University.
As the years went by the Michigan Alumni Ten-Year Program became, in popular conception, not the threefold project, but merely the financial program of the alumni. President Little resigned and the Alumni University idea took on a different character. The survey of the alumni was completed, the progressive steps in the internal organization of the Alumni Association were accomplished, and the alumni turned to this third phase of Ottaway's proposals.
In spite of all obstacles the program prospered. University of Michigan clubs, alumni class organizations, and individuals espoused their own particular objectives and carried them to completion. The largest project adopted was the faculty salary endowment fund of the University of Michigan Club of New York City. An endowment of $250,000 was set as the goal, and more than $200,000 was pledged, for payment over a ten-year period. By 1939 more than half of this amount had been paid in to the University, the depression notwithstanding. In his statement to the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association in June, 1939, the general secretary announced that upwards of $182,000 had passed through the Alumni Association offices, in transit to the University, representing contributions of the alumni under the ten-year program. This was in addition to the funds which went directly to the University from the alumni under the program.
Projects of many types, with a variety of conditions attached, have been adopted by the alumni as objectives in the Michigan Alumni Ten-Year Program. In 1928 President Little had a comprehensive statement of the special needs of the University prepared. This statement gave to the alumni the information they needed in selecting their projects. From time to time alumni and University officials suggested additional projects, and in many cases these were adopted as objectives. In March, 1938, President Ruthven completed another survey of University needs, which was published as a second roster of ten-year program objectives in the March 26 issue of the Michigan Alumnus, and in the Alumni Relations Twenty-Sixth General Bulletin.
By 1934 the program had proven so popular with the alumni and had become such an effective medium for alumni support of the University that steps were taken to make it a continuing activity. Page 385In the fall of that year the Board of Directors decreed that the program, unchanged in name, should be a continuous alumni effort, divided into ten-year cycles, with a so-called "jubilee" at each succeeding anniversary of the launching of the program. At this jubilee there was to be an accounting of progress, an announcement of new objectives selected, and a renewed emphasis on the endeavor.
The first of these jubilees came during the 1937 celebration on the campus. Held at about the time originally planned for the depression-retarded conclusion of the program, the jubilee was one of the high lights of the celebration. Nearly five hundred representatives of University of Michigan clubs and alumni classes gathered at luncheon in the ballroom of the Michigan Union, and there heard a roll call of the projects adopted, completed, or under way. Thirty-seven of the more than forty projects were reported.