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


FOR the past several decades the University of Michigan has ranked as one of the first four American institutions in the enrollment of foreign students. The other three are on the Atlantic or the Pacific Coast. While this large foreign enrollment, broadly speaking, may be considered the result of a cosmopolitan tradition which has existed at Michigan almost from the University's first days, many forces have worked together to bring it about. Some of these forces are obscure, but most of them have resulted from the unusually broad conception of the place of the University in world affairs and from the opportunity it possesses, through its alumni, to increase international understanding.

From the beginning, the University was interested in foreign peoples and eager to extend its influence in international affairs. It is important to remember that the actual establishment of the University occurred at the beginning of the great evangelistic movement in the Protestant churches which sent American missionaries into the most remote and hazardous corners of the world. It is significant that a member of the very first class to be graduated from the University, the class of 1845, was destined to be the first missionary sent to China by the Methodists. It was an impressive sight when, in 1929, the Methodist Conference, in session in Ann Arbor, adjourned for a half day to pilgrimage in a long cavalcade to the little cemetery at Unadilla to pay tribute to Judson Dwight Collins, whose pioneer work in China opened that country to Methodist investment in schools, churches, and hospitals. From the class of 1848 Horatio W. Shaw, a great uncle of Wilfred Shaw, went to Allahabad, India, returning Page  1839just in time to escape the Sepoy Rebellion. Tillman C. Trowbridge ('52, LL.D. '80), under the auspices of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (Congregational), went to Turkey, where he lived a life of great usefulness, and Thomas Spencer Ogden ('53, A.M. '57) was sent to Corsica by the Presbyterian Board.

Scores of Michigan men and women, as the great missionary movement swept to its climax, went out, not only to preach the gospel and minister to the sick but, whether intentionally or not, to become alumni centers of interest in the University of Michigan. Whatever opinion one may hold regarding the theological and denominational dogmatism of that period, one cannot fail to recognize the heroism and sincerity of these men and women; certainly the foreign students who were soon to come in such numbers to the University were the fruits of their sowing.

In later years, visits and expeditions abroad by our professors encouraged foreign students to come to the University, and in recent times governmental programs have resulted in bringing students to the campus in large numbers.

There were foreign students at the University from the very first, one from Mexico and one from Wales in 1847, two Canadians in 1852, an Englishman in 1853, and several students from Hawaii in 1854 and 1855, but these were sporadic cases, mostly the sons of missionaries. The cosmopolitan movement at Michigan actually began with the appearance of the first Oriental student, a Japanese, Saiske Tagai, who came in 1872, in the fourth decade of the University's history. The following year another Japanese student enrolled, Masakazu Stehachi Toyama (A.M. hon. '86), who not only became the president of the Imperial University, but the first minister of state for education in Japan and who died laden with imperial honors for his service to Japanese education.

Some years later, in the spring of 1880, President James B. Angell was appointed envoy extraordinary, minister plenipotentiary, and special commissioner to the Chinese Empire. As no one at the time could have foreseen, his diplomatic service marked the beginning of an interchange of courtesies between the University and the countries of the Far East which has continued for more than three quarters of a century. The University in 1885 was given the Chinese collection of textiles and art objects which aids in making Michigan a center for the study of Oriental civilization. The University has loaned specialists to China: Henry C. Adams to advise in problems of communication, and Howard B. Merrick, Clifton O. Carey, Hugh Brodie, Harry Bouchard, and a corps of other young engineering faculty men, to help solve the flood problems of the Pearl River.

From China has come a long line of students among whom have been many distinguished scholars and diplomats, leaders in education, and in government affairs. China, however, was not the first to avail itself of the opportunity for study made apparent to the East by President Angell's visit. Japan, with characteristic aggressiveness, moved first. Undoubtedly, President Angell's close friendship with the great Toyama had much to do with this.

Japanese students began to arrive at Michigan only two years after Angell's return; they came in substantial numbers for fifty years, and for at least the first half of that period Japanese education was greatly influenced by returning Michigan alumni. Toyama, especially, had a powerful influence on the shaping of the early educational policies of the Japanese government. As these educational systems and techniques developed, Page  1840however, they came to be fashioned more and more on European models. America had less to contribute than had Germany and France, and gradually the enrollment of Japanese in all American universities decreased. At Michigan the peak of the early enrollment was reached in 1920, when twenty-five students from Japan were enrolled. Not until after World War II was the number of students again significant. In the early postwar period the Occupation forces sponsored a large number of students. In 1949 there were only five Japanese on campus, but in 1950 there were forty-one. Never since have there been less than thirty-two, and the number has been as large as fifty-eight. The presence of the Center for Japanese Studies on campus and in Japan and the growing connection between the University and Japanese institutions indicate a continued increase in the number of students from that country.

The first Chinese students did not appear at the University until eleven years after President Angell's diplomatic service to China. Three entered the University in 1892. Two of them, Ida Kahn ('96m, A.M. hon. '20) and Mary Stone [Meiyii Shie] ('96m) were the adopted daughters of Miss Gertrude Howe, a medical missionary who had had her training in the University's Medical School in 1871 and 1872. These two women, by their magnificent medical service, were destined to inspire the Barbour scholarships for Oriental women, established by Levi L. Barbour in 1917, which have placed so many trained women leaders in various countries of the East. The enrollment of Chinese students, stimulated by the Barbour scholarships, by the scholarships provided in 1910 from the Boxer indemnity funds, and by other increasingly liberal grants, had grown until it reached the amazing figure of 160 in 1935-36. After a slackening during World War II the number again rose, reaching 189 in 1948. The Communist control of China immediately affected the number of students from there, which has now stabilized at about eighty, most of them from Formosa. In recent years large numbers have come also from Thailand, thus increasing even more the concentration of students from Asiatic countries.

The evangelistic crusade, which sent our alumni to foreign lands as teachers and preachers from 1850 to 1870, and the contacts established by such diplomatic services as those of President Angell and Henry Carter Adams, were not the only influences affecting the cosmopolitan movement at the University. Expeditions for purposes of scientific research have also had their effect. The most notable of these were the zoological expeditions to the Philippines of Professor Joseph B. Steere and of Dean C. Worcester. These expeditions gave a group of brilliant young Michigan men an interest in the Philippines and an intimate knowledge of the country and the people that made them invaluable to the political development of the Islands after the American occupation in 1899.

Not only were Michigan men in the majority in the cabinet of the governor of the Islands, William H. Taft, but the University of the Philippines was organized on the model of the University of Michigan by Dean Worcester, Judge E. F. Johnson, Justice George Malcolm, Professor Edgar M. Ledyard, Professor C. G. Wrentmore, and other distinguished Michigan alumni. The first deans of the colleges of Medicine, Law, Engineering, and Agriculture were all Michigan men. It is interesting to note that Governor General Frank Murphy, as well as Professor Joseph Ralston Hayden, who was vice-governor general, were also Michigan men. This prominence of Michigan alumni and the development of exchange professorships between Page  1841the University of Michigan and the University of the Philippines gave Michigan greatly increased prestige, not only in the Philippines but throughout the Far East area. Students from the Philippines began to arrive at the University in 1900 almost immediately after the American occupation, and they have come continuously ever since. Twenty-nine, the peak of their prewar enrollment, was reached in 1921; it remained almost constant until 1930 when it began to drop. Not until the years after World War II did the number again become significant. In 1955 seventy Filipino students were enrolled.

There were no students from the Near East until 1886; at first only a few came, never more than seven or eight, and until 1929 the number was usually smaller. This seems remarkable when one recalls that missionaries from the University went to Turkey in large numbers at a very early date — the Trowbridges in 1852, the Neils and Shepards in the early 1880's, the Christies, Barnums, and a score of others in the 1890's — and that several archeological expeditions from the University have worked for years in various parts of the Near East. President Angell, near the end of his active life, was Minister to Turkey, and in 1911 the University lent Professor John R. Allen to Robert College to organize the engineering department there and to serve temporarily as dean. It is apparent that the University has had a larger contact with the Near East and perhaps a greater interest in its peoples than it has had in those of any other area, yet these contacts and this interest have begun to bring students to Michigan for study only since 1929.

All these influences were not, however, without effect, as is evidenced by the growth and development of the two great American-sponsored schools, Robert College at Istanbul, and the American University at Beirut. By 1929 students from the Near East began for the first time to come to the United States for advanced study; previously they had gone to the nearer European universities. The development at Michigan of a curriculum in Oriental languages, of another in Islamic art, the establishment of government scholarships by Iraq, and the greatly increased numbers of Michigan scholars working in Egypt and Mesopotamia turned the eyes of the Near East in the direction of the University of Michigan. The number of students from the Near East is now more than 160, with Turkey and Iraq both represented by forty or more students each.

There have been many other interesting phases of this cosmospolitan movement at the University. Latin America early sent students to Michigan. One came in 1863, and since 1877 the succession of these students has been almost unbroken; since 1900 they have been one of the important groups on campus. Through most of the past fifty years, the University of Michigan has had one of the largest enrollments of Latin American students in this country. Perhaps there is some significance in the fact that this institution was host to the first Pan-American Congress, and that the entire delegation of representatives of the South American countries visited Ann Arbor in 1889.

The Good Neighbor Policy of the 1940's, which throughout the United States spurred attention to Latin America and resulted in the establishment of the English Language Institute at the University of Michigan, led to the large numbers of Latin Americans who have been coming to the University in the past two decades. Since 1940 there have never been fewer than 125; the peak of 192 was reached in 1944.

India had no students at the University until 1902 — never more than a half Page  1842dozen or so in any one year until 1920. Then, possibly because the Barbour scholarships became available, possibly because World War I ended, or because of the anti-British feeling in India, the number suddenly increased. For ten years it climbed steadily, held for four or five years, and then quite unaccountably plunged to a mere half dozen. After independence, however, the number of Indians, Pakistanis, and Burmese, all of whom were counted as from "India" in earlier figures, increased: fifteen came from Pakistan in 1955, and 104 from India and thirty-seven from Burma in 1956.

For fifteen years, from 1912 to 1927, an almost spectacular invasion of South Africans took place, men who came with almost ferocious energy to study dentistry. Then, quite as suddenly as they came, they disappeared. They got what they wanted and had in that fifteen years established their own dental college for the training of their own men. There are many such curious and interesting examples of the effect of circumstances on these rising and falling enrollments within the international group.

While no one European country has been represented by large numbers of students, a few have come each year from Europe. In one or two years, chiefly because of government programs, the number rose. In the past few years, the enrollment from Europe and Africa, taken together, has ranged between 175 and 200.

The members of our large group of foreign-born students have been exceptional. Some of them have been selected on the basis of competitive examinations, some have been sent on scholarships as a reward for government service, and some are sons and daughters of wealthy families of high cultural ideals who have taken advantage of all their own educational systems have to offer. They are interesting, not only because they come from strange and distant lands, but because they have had unusual experiences in their lives.

Certain studies of the foreign student population of the University have brought out facts other than the quantitative analyses given. In 1952 and 1954 these studies were concerned with the financial backing of foreign students and with the enrollment by schools and major fields of study. In the study of finances it was found that 54 per cent of 703 foreign students in 1952 and 61 per cent of 790 in 1954 were here without scholarships, being supported by their families, their savings, or by employment in Ann Arbor. Scholarships from their home countries accounted for 16 per cent and 13 per cent in the two years; from the United States government 15 per cent and 10.5 per cent; from the University of Michigan scholarships and fellowships 5 per cent and 4 per cent; from private agencies and foundations 5 per cent and 4 per cent; and from international organizations 2 per cent each year. In professional schools and colleges demanding previous undergraduate training the percentages of these samples were 11.6 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively; in undergraduate schools and colleges to which freshmen can be admitted there were 44.6 per cent in 1952 and 43.6 per cent in 1954; and in the Graduate School and graduate divisions there were 43.8 per cent and 48.4 per cent.

Major fields of study in these two sample years (1952 and 1954) included engineering, languages and linguistics, health sciences, mathematics and natural sciences, social sciences, business administration, education, and law and pre-law. The largest enrollments were in engineering, languages and linguistics, and the health sciences.

These representatives of racial and national Page  1843groups, although they present some problems requiring careful consideration — problems of language, immigration, housing, health, finances, and social contacts — are not merely a colorful, exotic feature of the Michigan campus, they have much to contribute to its life as students and as alumni. For years they have given the student body an international outlook and an interest in foreign affairs. There is no finer opportunity for strengthening the bonds of good will between countries than by encouraging mutual acquaintance between these international guests and their American hosts. The influence of their presence at the University is increasingly apparent, especially in the growing interest in foreign study. More and more, students and faculty are seeking opportunities for study and travel in the countries represented by our foreign students. Not only do these students help to give a wider world outlook to the members of the student body of which they are a part, but they are of service in many practical ways. In the development of curriculums hundreds of Oriental students help to make concrete and appealing what would otherwise be purely academic. It is safe to say that more American students will be attracted to the study of foreign cultures by personal contact with students from other countries than by the most alluring prospectus.

Our foreign student enrollment is one of the most significant factors responsible for the University of Michigan's reputation as a great international institution. The presence of these students on campus and their impact on their own countries as alumni help to create international understanding and to strengthen the possibilities for peace.


President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1853-1909, 1920-54.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, Univ. Mich., 1865-1954.