Title: Board of Regents (University of Michigan) records Creator: University of Michigan. Board of Regents. Dates: 1817-2011 (Majority of material found within 1899-1989) Extent: 188 linear feet, 3 oversize volumes, 20 oversize items, 298.4 MB (online), 1 oversize folder Abstract:
The University of Michigan's highest governing body is the Board of Regents. The Regents deal with virtually every aspect of university policy and campus life. The records of the Regents reflect this broad range of interests and authority. This record group contains exhibits from meetings beginning in 1899. These exhibits are the most complete record of the actions of the Regents, supplementing and detailing the published minutes Proceedings of the Board of Regents. Additional documentation in this record group includes manuscript minutes, 1837-1870, correspondence, material by and about the Regents, photographs, audio recordings of meetings, 1977-2004, and material on recent presidential searches.
Call number: 8722 Bimu B2 2 Language: The materials are in English. Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave. Ann Arbor, MI
firstname.lastname@example.org Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid prepared by: Frank Boles and University Archives Staff, last updated April 2016
Access and Use
This record group (Donor no. 5932) was originally drawn from different University of Michigan administrative offices, mainly the Secretary's Office and the President's Office. Additions are received on an ongoing basis directly from the Board of Regents.
The collection is open for research.
To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS
tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital
formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more
information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.
Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.
Processed by BHL staff; finding aid introductory sections written by Frank Boles. Updated January 2014.
In preparing digital material for long-term preservation and access, the Bentley Historical Library adheres to professional best practices and standards to ensure that content will retain its authenticity and integrity. For more information on procedures for the ingest and processing of digital materials, please see Bentley Historical Library Digital Processing Note. Access to digital material may be provided either as a direct link to an individual file or as a downloadable package of files bundled in a zip file.
item, folder title, box no., Board of Regents (University of Michigan) Records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan
Summary Contents List
Records of State-University Relations [box 1]
Records of Predecessor Institutions [box 1]
Laws and Bylaws and Select Proceedings of the Regents [box 1 and online]
The Regents of the University of Michigan trace their authority to the founding of the "Catholepistemiad, or University, of Michigania," a body created by Michigan territorial law on August 26, 1817. The Catholepistemiad was to have 13 didaxiim who both served as professors and also formed the governing body of the institution. The "didactors" exercised complete control over the school's affairs and were granted a mandate to establish courses of instruction throughout the territory.
In accordance with the law, acting territorial governor William Woodbridge appointed two men, the Reverends John Monteith and Gabriel Richard, didactors. While the two made a modest beginning, the Catholepistemiad proved far more ambitious a program than the territory was capable of sustaining. Recognizing this fact, a new territorial law was enacted on April 30, 1821, superseding the act of 1817.
The law of 1821 substantially changed the structure of the university's governing body. Control of the "University of Michigan" was removed from the faculty and vested in a board of 21 individuals, "The Trustees of the University of Michigan." The territorial governor served as an ex-officio member of the Trustees, the other members were appointed by and served at the pleasure of the territorial legislature. The law of 1821, like that of 1817, envisioned an institution too large for the territory to successfully support. By 1827 the university no longer offered classes and the building erected in Detroit by the Trustees was being leased to private educational groups.
The state constitution of 1835 recognized implicitly the existence of a state university and granted power to regulate such an institution to the Legislature. No action was taken, however, to revive the dormant university until the passage of a new organic act by the Legislature on March 18, 1837. The law of 1837 re-established "The University of Michigan" and vested its governance in a body called the Board of Regents. The Regents consisted of 12 individuals chosen by the governor with the advice and consent of the state senate, to be presided over by the chancellor (senior administrative officer) of the university, who was made an ex-officio member of the Regents. Other ex-officio members included the governor, the Lt. governor, the judges of the State Supreme Court and the chancellor of the State. The authority of the Regents, in contrast to that of the State Legislature, was unclear. Specifically it was uncertain if the Regents' authority extended to the appointment of a university chancellor, new professorships or selection of branch sites, or if the Legislature's advice and consent was necessary before such actions were legal.
As part of a general revision of Michigan statutes in 1846 the Legislature attempted to define more precisely the exact relationship between itself and the Regents. The Regents were given specifically the power to appoint the university's chancellor and other changes were also made. The result, however, was not particularly helpful in clarifying the overall scope of the Regents' authority.
The state constitution of 1850 proved a watershed in defining the relationship between the Regents and the Legislature. The drafters of the new constitution wished to remove the Regents from the direct political pressure of the Legislature. They therefore established the Regents as a quasi-independent agency. The body was granted the authority to carry out "the general supervision of the University...." The Regents were to be elected to six-year terms of office, each regent being chosen from the state's judicial districts. In 1862 the latter constitutional provision was modified in that Regents were to be elected statewide, and their terms of office were to be staggered, so that two of the eight seats were filled every two years.
While the scope of the "general supervision" clause was not immediately clear, a series of judicial interpretations eventually made it the basis for a broad mandate of authority, limiting the State Legislature's direct interference in university affairs. The State Supreme Court first limited the Legislature in favor of the Regents in the People v. The Regents of the University of Michigan, decided in 1856. The process of judicial interpretation was slow, however, and it was not until 1896 in the case of Sterling v. The Regents of the University of Michigan that the State Supreme Court definitively ruled that the "general supervision" clause of the 1850 constitution barred direct interference by the Legislature in the affairs of the university.
The state constitution of 1908 repeated the "general supervision" clause of the constitution of 1850 while significantly broadening the powers of the Regents. The new document granted the Regents "direction and control of all expenditures from the University funds." The Regents interpreted this clause as granting them the power to dispose of state appropriations without review by state executive officials. The Regents' interpretation of the clause was sustained by the State Supreme Court in 1911 in Board of Regents of the University of Michigan v. The Auditor General. In that case the Court ruled that appropriations to the university became the "property" of the Regents, subject only to such conditions as the Legislature attached to the appropriations.
The Legislature's ability to attach such conditions was limited by the Supreme Court in 1924. Ruling in State Board of Agriculture v. The Auditor General (the constitution of 1908 had granted to Michigan State College, now Michigan State University, and its governing body, the State Board of Agriculture, powers similar to that exercised by the Regents of the University of Michigan), the Court stated that the Legislature could not establish "unconstitutional conditions" to appropriations and that, should the Legislature feel its will violated or ignored by the Regents, its recourse was through the courts. While the decision gave the Regents considerable authority, neither in this decision nor in a number of subsequent rulings, did the State Supreme Court systematically define "unconstitutional provisions," preferring to resolve issues on the merits of the particular case rather than through constitutional interpretation.
The authority granted the Regents by the courts was subtly diminished through subsequent action of the Legislature. In 1933 the Legislature abandoned the historic practice of levying a special mill tax to support the university. Henceforth money was to come from the state's general fund. The possibility for legislative intervention was further enhanced by the decision in 1947 to modify the nature of the university's appropriation from a continuing resolution to an annual one.
While the 1963 state constitution reconfirmed the constitutional status of the Regents as defined in 1850 and 1908, it made changes in the Regents' membership and procedures, while continuing the trend toward increased financial accountability to the Legislature. The constitution of 1963 removed the Superintendent of Public Instruction as an ex-officio member of the Regents. It mandated that all formal sessions of the Regents be opened to the public. Finally it required that an annual accounting of all income and expenditures be made to the Legislature.
In addition to these provisions the 1963 constitution established a state Board of Education and declared it "the general planning and coordinating body for all public education, including higher education." The Regents argued that subsequent clauses of the 1963 constitution limited the Board from impinging upon the traditional powers of the Regents. The Board of Education challenged this interpretation of the constitution, and eventually the issue was placed before the State Supreme Court. That body resolved the issue in favor of the Regents.
A complete List of University of Michigan Regents is available at the Bentley Library web site at http://bentley.umich.edu/exhibits/regents/index.php
Collection Scope and Content Note
As the official governing body of the university, the Regents deal with virtually every aspect of university policy and life. The records of the Regents reflect this broad range of interests and authority. But while the documentation is wide-ranging, it is not continuous. Certain types of records are continually before the Regents, particularly information regarding salaries, leaves of absence, appointments to faculty positions, and formal approval of degrees conferred upon students. More often, however, the Regents are presented with a specific problem and asked to resolve it through the creation of policy. After the creation and successful implementation of a policy, the situation which caused the issue to arise is usually no longer a matter of Regental concern. The Regents' records reflect this pattern of action. Issues arise, are resolved, and then are supplanted by new concerns.
The records of the Regents are divided into eight series: Fundamental Documents, Exhibits of Regents' Meetings, Topical Files, Correspondence Files, Recordings of the Regents' Meetings, Presidential Search Records, Visual Materials, and Archived Website.
This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.
Women -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
Women college students -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
Adams, Henry Carter, 1851-1921.
Association for the Promotion of Female Education.
Catholepistemiad (Detroit, Mich.)
Detroit Classical Academy.
Douglas, Silas H. (Silas Hamilton), 1816-1890.
Felch, Alpheus, 1804-1896.
Frieze, Henry S. (Henry Simmons), 1817-1889.
Jenner, William Le Baron, 1832-1907.
Kersey, Jonathan, 1786-1859.
Rose, Preston Benjamin, 1834-1912.
South College (University of Michigan)
University of Michigan -- Administration.
University of Michigan. Board of Trustees.
University of Michigan -- Buildings.
University of Michigan. College of Architecture and Design.
University of Michigan. College of Engineering.
University of Michigan. College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
University of Michigan. Dept. of Chemistry.
University of Michigan -- Faculty.
University of Michigan -- Finance.
University of Michigan. Homoeopathic Medical School.
Fundamental Documents by or about the University Governing Body [series]
The first series of the Regents' records contains Fundamental Documents By or About the University Governing Body, including information regarding the predecessors of the Board of Regents. Included are acts of the Michigan territorial and state legislatures which created or modified the university, as well as relevant decisions of the state Supreme Court. Documents from predecessor bodies include the minutes of the Trustees of the University of Michigan (1821-1837) and the Detroit Classical Academy (1818-1829). Selected Regents' material found in this series include the minutes of the Regents' Executive Committee (1845-1857) and manuscript minutes of Regents' meetings (1837-1870), and online content consisting of bylaws, traffic ordinances, and trademark policies.
Records of State-University Relations [subseries]
Act establishing Catholespistemiad or University of Michigania (photostatic copy) 1817
Act establishing the University of Michigan and various Territorial laws 1837
Constitutional and Statutory provisions re University, compiled 1937
Record of Legislative acts re University 1817-1911
Decisions of State Supreme Court (undated)
Opinion of Constitutional status of Regents written by Alpheus Felch 1850
Records of Predecessor Institutions [subseries]
Laws of the University 1817-1818
Minutes Detroit Classical Academy 1818-1829
Minutes Trustees of the University of Michigan 1821-1837
(1 oversize volume)
Laws and By-laws and Select Records of the Regents [subseries]
University laws 1883-1914
Tentative by-laws of Regents, drawn up by Lucius L. Hubbard 1920
Exhibits of the Regents Meetings 1899-1989 [series]
The Exhibits of Regents' Meetings series (1899-1989) includes various items: correspondence, reports, recommendations, and other documents presented to the Regents for consideration at their meetings. In addition to these files, the researcher should note that the Bentley Historical Library maintains a complete set of the Regents' printed official minutes. Proceedings of the Board of Regents began in 1837 and continues to the present. These proceedings are extensively indexed and may be located through the printed catalog. The published proceedings include many of the items within the Exhibit series. The majority of exhibits, however, are merely alluded to in the minutes. Thus, this series is the most complete record of the actions of the Board of Regents. To speed retrieval exhibits filed after August 1908 were identified by a letter. As the number of exhibits expanded beyond the letters of the alphabet, the practice became to label the exhibit following "Z" as "AA." Similarly, the exhibit following "ZZ" was designated "AAA." The practice of writing out all of the letters was abandoned in 1928 and supplanted by a shorthand notation. Exhibit "AA" was designated "A2," and "AAA" as "A3."
Exhibit letters do not appear in the official printed Regents' minutes. They are, however, included in the draft minutes and the agendas which precede each meeting's exhibits. Since the Secretary prepared both the agenda and the exhibits, exhibits usually were taken up sequentially, but exceptions to this rule are common.
Exhibits regarding trust funds were systematically removed from the files and placed in a special location. Such removals were noted by the insertion of a printed form. The trust fund file has not yet been transferred to the archives.
Note: More recent materials from the meetings (from March 1996 to present), including detailed agendas, exhibit material, and reports on finances, promotions, and degree confirmation, are available in the record group University of Michigan. Board of Regents Agendas.