The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Page  315


UNTIL 1871, the one acceptable plan whereby graduates of secondary schools could gain entrance into colleges and universities had been that of the formal academic examination. In that year, however, the University of Michigan, then a small but growing state university, decided to try out a new plan, that of so unifying the educational system of the state that young men and women might proceed without interruption along educational paths from the kindergarten to college graduation. This was accomplished through the "diploma relationship of high schools to the University," inaugurated by Acting President Frieze and carried forward enthusiastically by President Angell and his successors. The Presidents' Reports and Regents' Proceedings are replete with passages explaining this new development in education and giving it hearty endorsement at every step of the way. The following brief account is taken very largely from the publications just mentioned, and is reported in the original language insofar as possible.

In 1869 Acting President Frieze in his annual report stated that while preparatory training of students was steadily improving, if a genuine university were ever to exist it would have to be "built on a much higher scholarship in the preparatory schools and academies." He felt that our colleges and universities were decidedly inferior to the European high schools, or Gymnasia. The remedy lay in gradually raising the requirements for admission to the Literary Department of the University until the local high schools "shall have occupied their proper ground and the university … [shall have been] enabled to take on its true character and functions." A year later he observed that conditions were favorable for the development of the equivalent of Gymnasia in America which would "secure to us the true university."

One high school already had sent to the University thirty-five well-prepared students, and, in general, high schools were sending increasing numbers of students to the University. Professor Frieze recognized that full co-operation between the school authorities and the University would be the work of time, but he looked forward to the possible elimination of elementary teaching on the part of the University, with the faculty of its Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts becoming a genuine faculty of philosophy and science. Hearty sympathy and co-operation on the part of the state union schools and high schools was assured, and he reported:

… Some of our best educators … have proposed that a commission of examiners from the Academic Faculty, should visit annually such schools as may desire it, and give certificates to those pupils who may be successful in their examinations, entitling them to admission, without further examination, to the University.

(P.R., 1870, p. 8.)

During the year 1870-71 there were 222 applicants for admission to the Literary Department. Candidates from the high schools of Detroit, Flint, Jackson, and Ann Arbor were especially well prepared and gave evidence of a gradual rise in scholarship standards. Also, requests had been received to send visiting committees from the University to several prominent schools, including those of Adrian, Jackson, Flint, Ann Arbor, and Detroit.

Page  316President Angell, in his first report (1872), mentioned the admission of women and the establishment of our relations with the high schools as two very important events in the development of the University which took place under the influence of his predecessor, Acting President Frieze. He also pointed out that the University was "gradually demanding a larger range, as well as a better quality, of preparatory work" and that "the superintendents and teachers … show a most praiseworthy desire to push up the scale of their work." Fifty freshmen had been received during the preceding year under the new certificate plan — three from a Detroit high school, eight from Flint, seven from Jackson, three from Kalamazoo, one from Adrian, and twenty-eight from Ann Arbor.

In commenting on this first year's experience President Angell said: "We see nothing in the result of the experiment to deter us from repeating it… Those who predicted filling up the Freshman class with poor material or the lowering of the standard of scholarship … have proved false prophets" (P.R., 1872, p. 10). The smallness of the number of students in this group "conditioned" or "failed to pass" made the success of the new system evident. He looked forward to a time when, with all the high schools in the state enlisted in the program, "we shall have a completely graded system of substantially free public education stretching from the primary school through the University." Five schools were visited during the year and others announced that they would be prepared to invite inspection the next year.

During the next four years the development of the new relationship with the high schools of the state was rapid. In 1873 Dr. Angell was able to report: "We are certainly approximating toward a more substantial unity in our system of public education than any other State in the Union." The following year, requirements for admission had risen so rapidly that in some respects they were higher "than [those] of any other institution in the country." Apparently the close relationship which had developed between the secondary schools and the University continued to be satisfactory, at least to the University. In 1875 President Angell acknowledged the indebtedness of the University to the public schools and reported again that "no other State in the Union, I think, has an educational system so nearly approaching to organic completeness and unity as Michigan." More than half of the freshman class by that time was coming from the inspected schools, and the average preparation of these freshmen was found to be better than that of the rest of the class. The net result of this program was a very apparent elevation of the standard of work in the schools and a corresponding rise in the standards of admission to the University (see Part II: Office of the Registrar).

The teachers' point of view of the diploma relationship, as set forth in a paper which J. C. Jones, Superintendent of the Pontiac Schools, read before the State Teachers' Association in 1875, is an indication of the way in which the school administrators of the state received this innovation in the relationship between the University and the secondary schools:

1st. It has intensified, deepened and dignified the work of the high school…

2d. The visits of the University committee are looked forward to … with excellent spirit and interest, which leads to much conversation about the University and its requirements… This increased amount of talk is one of the greatest benefits to the school, for it brings the University within the pupil's vision and constantly augments his desire to enter its walls …

3d. Parents manifest more interest and Page  317greater pride in the school and its success …

4th. It increases the number preparing for college …

5th. Then this method makes it better for the pupil physically as well as mentally … He becomes possessed of a certificate, which ends the worry and cram of the long vacation just previous to entering college …

9th. One of its best effects is upon the teacher. This is, perhaps, its very best. Considering, as they do, that their reputation rests upon well prepared pupils, they are induced to acquaint themselves with the best methods of instruction …

In conclusion, nothing has awakened a deeper sympathy among the people for the University and its prosperity, than this reciprocal relation of the high schools and the University, and it would be a sad blow to higher education in this State to sever it.

(P.R., 1875, pp. 7 n.-8 n.)

It must be admitted that the establishment of the diploma relationship was not carried out without formidable opposition. President Eliot of Harvard was critical of the innovation and was quoted by President Angell as saying: "That the University should have been willing to try so unpromising an experiment proves that the lack of connection between the secondary and the higher instruction in Michigan must have been painfully felt" (P.R., 1875, p. 8 n.). President Angell went on to observe that it was singular that it should not have occurred to President Eliot "that the University could have ventured on the experiment only because fortunately the connection between the secondary and the higher instruction is probably closer than in any other State."

From 1871 to 1876, high schools were accredited by the University only when they were so organized and equipped as to be able to prepare students simultaneously for all three undergraduate courses of study leading to the degrees of bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of philosophy (see Part II: Degrees). In 1876 it was decided that it would be better to encourage schools to train pupils well in one or two courses rather than, by undertaking more, to force them to do a poorer quality of work. After that date schools were accredited even though they were unable to prepare students for all the curriculums offered in the University (see p. 247). In the President's Report for 1876 (p. 7) Dr. Angell stated that "there seems no reason why a school which can prepare its pupils satisfactorily for our Scientific and Engineering courses alone should not be recognized by us as competent to do that particular work."

Not only had the movement for the admission of students on diploma spread to some of the other state universities by this time, but also some of the Eastern colleges were receiving students without examination from academies of established reputation.

While President Angell was on leave of absence in 1880, Acting President Frieze took occasion to comment again on the severe criticism the plan had received from some distinguished educators, who feared that it would bring down the standard of scholarship. He reported, however, that, just as in the case of the admission of women, experience proved there was no ground for fear "except that the thing was new, and not practiced in the mother colleges." His conclusions were borne out by the results of an investigation covering the nine-year period during which the new plan had been in effect, made by Professors Wooster W. Beman and William H. Pettee and presented as Appendix C of the President's Report for that year (pp. 26-30).

By this time sixteen of the most flourishing and important high schools of the state were included in the plan, and its success was evidenced, not only by an Page  318increasing number of high schools co-operating with the University, but also by the spreading of the plan to secondary schools and academies in other states. These developments led the faculty to recommend that the privileges granted to the schools of Michigan be extended to those of other states on equal terms, a suggestion which met approval by the Regents on March 18, 1884. Within a year schools in New York, Illinois, Minnesota, and California had availed themselves of the privilege of sending students on diploma to the University. A further step came in 1891, when the President reported that the diploma relations with high schools were so firmly established and the benefits so obvious that it had been deemed wise for the University to assume the expense of sending committees of the faculty to visit the schools in Michigan.

On February 13, 1899, the faculty of the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts approved and submitted to the Regents a recommendation that the University have a "special examiner to inspect our diploma schools." It was not intended, however, "that our present system of inspection be wholly abandoned, but that it shall be used whenever it is found necessary or desirable." The Regents unanimously approved the plan and appointed Allen S. Whitney ('85, Ed.D. hon. '39) to the position. So far as can be learned, this was the first appointment by any university of a special high-school examiner.

With the appointment of Whitney as special examiner of high schools, the co-operative relationships between the University and secondary schools of the state seemed to take on new life. The years which followed saw larger numbers of schools asking to be accredited for diploma admission by the University. By September, 1903, the number of schools had increased to 127. President Angell's Report of that year states (pp. 6-7):

… Not the least important part of the work of the University has been its influence, exerted both directly and indirectly, in the development of the high schools. In its earliest days it accomplished excellent results by the establishment of the branch schools, which were finally transformed into the earliest high schools organized in the State … We have established this so-called diploma relation with a considerable number of schools in the states adjacent to Michigan. Since it is burdensome to us to visit schools in those states, the official examiners of this University and of our sister universities in those states are endeavoring, with good prospects of success, to fix upon some plan by which each university may safely receive the verdict of the other universities on the merits of at least the stronger schools in their respective states …

For the first time, I think, in the history of the University we can record the interesting fact that among our students were one or more representatives from every one of the states of our Union. All of our territories, except Alaska, and all of our new possessions, the Hawaiian Islands, Porto Rico, and the Philippines, and the following foreign states and provinces were represented, Japan, China, India, South Africa, Turkey, Austria, Germany, England, Bulgaria, Mexico, Jamaica, Ontario, Quebec.

Whitney served as Inspector of Schools until April, 1905. In that year Calvin Olin Davis ('95, Ph.D. Harvard '10) was appointed Instructor in Education and Inspector of Schools. In October, 1906, Irving King (Earlham '96, Ph.D. Chicago '04) was added to the Department of the Science and the Art of Teaching as Assistant Professor of Education and Examiner of Schools. The statement was made that "work falling upon that department is rapidly growing more heavy and important." In June, 1910, Davis was appointed Assistant Professor of Education and Inspector of Schools for the three years beginning the next October.

Page  319In December, 1913, after a rather prolonged discussion, a report was presented recommending that an "inspector be appointed who shall devote his entire time to the inspection of the secondary schools of the state, both accredited and non-accredited…"

In accordance with this action James Bartlett Edmonson ('06, Ph.D. Chicago '23) was engaged as Inspector of High Schools in February, 1914, to begin his work the next October.

It appears that no summarized report of activities of high-school inspection was made during the first forty-five years of diploma-school relations. The records in the Regents' Proceedings, in the annual President's Report, and in the files of correspondence exchanged with secondary schools were considered sufficient. After the appointment of a full-time high-school inspector an annual report was rendered, the report of 1915-16 being the first one officially recorded in the Regents' Proceedings (1914-17, p. 550).

In April, 1920, the Regents directed that the placing of a secondary school upon the accredited list of the University should thereafter be recognized by a suitable certificate, which should serve as evidence of the relationship between the school and the University for the period accredited.

James B. Edmonson, with the assistance of other members of the University faculty, handled the inspection of public and private secondary schools for the University, within and without the state, from 1914 to 1919. He received the additional appointment of Professor of Education in 1916. During 1919 he and the deputy state superintendent of public instruction worked out an arrangement whereby the University men inspected certain schools for tuition purposes for the State Department of Public Instruction and members of the high-school division of the state department inspected certain schools for accrediting purposes for the University. This plan, by eliminating duplication of activities, provided for greater efficiency in the work with the secondary schools of Michigan.

On the retirement of Whitney from the deanship of the School of Education in 1928 and the appointment of Edmonson to this position, it became necessary to secure another member of the faculty to care for high-school inspection, and in September, 1928, George Ezra Carrothers (Indiana '09, Ph.D. Columbia '24) was appointed High School Inspector and Associate Professor of Secondary Education. A further change occurred in February, 1929, when he became Director of the Division of University Inspection of High Schools, to succeed Dean Edmonson.

In 1929, after the resignation of Clarence C. Little from the presidency of the University, Alexander G. Ruthven was appointed to the position, and almost immediately the present administration began a study of the whole administrative organization of the University. Since that time, whenever pertinent information and sufficient thoughtful consideration of University problems have made it seem advisable, reorganizations have taken place.

In keeping with this policy, the work and the organization of the Division of University Inspection of High Schools received consideration by the University Council during 1931-32. A reorganization was approved which provided for a more efficient, unified co-operation between the University and other educational institutions.

The activities of the committee on accredited schools, the committee on junior colleges, and the Division of High School Inspection were consolidated by action of the Regents on February 26, 1932. A committee on co-operation with Page  320educational institutions supplanted the two earlier committees, the Division was renamed the Bureau of Co-operation with Educational Institutions, and Carrothers was appointed Director of the Bureau and was asked to serve also as secretary of the committee on co-operation.

The University Council and the Board of Regents thus set up a central committee on co-operation with educational institutions as the policy-forming and unifying body with respect to the work of the subcommittees and of the Bureau. This central committee, of which the vice-president of the University in charge of educational investigations, the registrar, several deans, and the state superintendent of public instruction are members, co-operates with all educational institutions both within and without the state in the development of the work and in the promotion of co-operative relationships. The central committee appointed a subcommittee on relations with secondary schools, which took over the work of the former committee on accredited high schools and continued the work of inspection and accrediting. A second subcommittee on relations with institutions of higher education was appointed. This committee took over the work of the junior-college committee and of certain other committees and continued co-operation with institutions of higher education in matters which concerned these institutions and the University as a whole.

When the Bureau of Co-operation with Educational Institutions was organized in 1932, the high-school inspector, Wray H. Congdon (Syracuse '14, Ph.D. Michigan '30), was appointed Assistant Director of the Bureau, and Freda S. Kuebler, secretary to the director. In 1934 Congdon resigned, and Harlan Clifford Koch (Ohio Univ. '19, Ph.D. Ohio State Univ. '26) was secured as Assistant Director of the Bureau, with full professorial rank. Koch came here from the University of Nebraska, where he had been a professor of secondary education, chairman of the committee on graduate studies in the Teachers College, and a member of the Graduate Council. For the next few years he devoted full time to the work of the Bureau and was engaged primarily in co-operative activities with secondary schools. In 1939 he was appointed half-time Professor of Education in the School of Education in addition to his half-time assistant directorship of the Bureau, and Edgar Grant Johnston (Wooster '12, Ph.D. Columbia '29), while continuing his part-time professorship of secondary education, took up the duties of part-time High School Visitor in the Bureau of Co-operation with Educational Institutions in place of his former work as Principal of University High School.

As Director of the Bureau of Co-operation, and formerly as Director of the Division of University Inspection of High Schools, Dr. Carrothers has given one-half of his time to teaching in the School of Education, where he is Professor of Education. The other half of his time is devoted to the work of the Bureau, which consists of visiting secondary schools, junior colleges, four-year colleges, and any other educational institution which may make request, and to the numerous administrative problems which arise in connection with the work.


President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1869-1909, 1921-40.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1864-1940.