The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Page  137


The man who is largely responsible for the establishment of the University of Michigan in Flint is Michael Gorman, editor of the Flint Journal, idea man, and civic energizer. He was the leading spirit in the realization of the College and Cultural Development, a plan involving gifts amounting to more than $28 million for establishing a number of cultural projects ranging from two libraries, two colleges, two museums, and a planetarium to a swimming pool and a fieldhouse, in some sixteen buildings situated on an extensive campus, and all built within a short time in celebration of Flint's centennial in 1950.

When the Flint Junior College was established in 1923, its offerings consisted of two years of preparatory and preprofessional work, with the expectation that students would complete the requirements for a bachelor's degree elsewhere. Business and vocational-terminal courses came in 1937, and the institution grew rapidly after World War II. The University of Michigan Extension Office opened a Residence Center for Graduate Study in 1944, at the request of the Flint Board of Education. But it was not possible for a student in this populous area to earn a bachelor's degree without traveling at least 50 miles. A public suggestion by President Ruthven in 1944, and again in 1946, that the University establish branches struck fire in Flint. This resulted in the first of several exploratory surveys. It was identified as Research Bulletin No. 8 of the Social Science Research Project of the Institute for Human Adjustment in the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies (1947). It was financed by the Mott Foundation of Flint. Charles Stewart Mott had been a large-scale donor, personally and through the Mott Foundation, to civic, educational, and other causes, especially those related to child welfare and health conditions for youth.

There were difficulties to be resolved; and over several years there were studies, discussions, and reports by several University committees and others created by the Flint Board of Education. With the inception of the College and Cultural Development in 1954, there was a renewed proposal from the Board and, in 1955, an authorization by the Regents for planning a two-year college in a Page  138building provided by the Board through the generosity of Mr. Mott. The Legislature voted funds for plans and other preliminary expenses, and an Advisory Planning Committee was created. Its detailed recommendations (1955) for staffing, courses, and policy were the basis upon which the new college began its work. Such was the inception of what is sometimes known in Flint as the "Far North Campus." Actual construction began in the spring of 1956. At this same time, Professor Harold Dorr was made Dean of State-wide Education and Dr. David French was appointed resident Dean. The suggestion of the Advisory Committee that all university activities be combined under a single resident officer was not implemented until 1971, with the naming of a chancellor.

Instruction began in September 1956 in the Junior College buildings. Fourteen newly recruited full-time instructors and four part-time instructors offered a range of 28 courses in 13 subject areas in the fall, and 31 other courses in the spring term to 167 third-year students, most of them transfers from the local Junior College.

The John C. and Isabella T. Mott Memorial Building, named for Mr. Mott's parents, was ready for occupancy in the fall of 1957. The student population was double that of the previous year; five subject areas were added; the full-time teaching staff increased to 21; and classes in the late afternoon and evening for people employed during the day became a feature. By the end of the second academic year, 16,000 volumes were housed in the space allocated to the library collection, and 76 seniors were graduated.

Talk of a library building to be used jointly by both colleges began in 1957; it was followed by a gift of $200,000 toward such a building; and then in September 1958 Mr. Mott's much larger gift was announced. When the building was opened in the spring of 1961 the collection of some 29,000 volumes was shelved, together with 33,000 volumes owned by the Junior College. By June 1970 the combined collections amounted to 129,000 volumes. Both collections have grown at a steady rate. Students of the Flint College also have direct access to the University Libraries in Ann Arbor, but the distance from the main campus makes this privilege impractical except in cases of unusual enthusiasm or great need.

The first executive committee consisted of the dean, Page  139his assistant, and four members from the Ann Arbor campus. The experience of the members from Ann Arbor and their function there as interpreters of activities in Flint were invaluable. In 1960 the ratio became two from Ann Arbor and three from Flint. In 1964 the number was increased to six, and all were members of the Flint College faculty. At the start the executive committee exercised powers normally belonging to an organized faculty, and the dean acted as chairman of all departments. The Flint faculty began work on bylaws in 1957, but at some points their decisions did not conform to the Regent's Regulations. Informally, the faculty gradually became self-governing, at least in those areas where its legislation was clearly acceptable. The "governing faculty" was established by the Regents in 1959, and in 1961 a new committee undertook to prepare a revision of the bylaws, work which was not completed until the spring of 1962 when they became legally operational.

The ties with the parent institution continue to be of great value. They have helped in the maintenance of academic standards; they have relieved the College of the need to make its own way financially; they have exempted it from local interference; and they have given it an aura of prestige helpful in the recruitment of faculty and the enrollment of students. Some ties continue to be strong. The University administration handles salary checks and all the fringe benefits accruing to University personnel. Fourth-year students just short of finishing may enroll concurrently in the Graduate School. The School of Education processes the certification of teacher candidates. Flint students use the facilities of the Bureau of Appointments. There is a Flint representative in the Senate Assembly and another on the Senate Advisory Review Committee. All members of professorial rank are eligible for Rackham research grants. The College has a busy substation tie-in with the Computer Center in Ann Arbor.

When the University in Ann Arbor adopted the trimester calendar, and Flint did not, the term endings were out of phase, and Flint students lost interest in the Commencement exercises in Ann Arbor. In June 1966 the diplomas were first distributed (to 188 seniors) in Flint. In January 1968, by student request, midyear graduations were begun there. Flint students continue to participate in the annual spring Honors Convocation in Ann Arbor, however.

In some ways the Flint College is different from any of the schools and colleges in Ann Arbor. Although only a Page  140single degree, the A.B., has been offered, the liberal arts, the sciences, education, and business are combined in one college; and while there is an attempt to produce some unity through the distribution requirements, such professional specialties as medical technology (1961), engineering science (1961), and education of the deaf (1961) have also appeared. In these respects there is a resemblance to the small independent college or to a miniuniversity more than to a college of The University of Michigan. Similarly it did not seem appropriate to administer student services from Ann Arbor, or to subsume the student paper, literary efforts, and the yearbook under the Board in Control of Student Publications, but rather to establish parallel bodies in Flint. The student government council is entirely independent of student government in Ann Arbor. Likewise, when the trimester was introduced in Ann Arbor, Flint retained the traditional academic calendar, since coordination with the local Junior College was more important. Only in the fall of 1970 was there a shift to two fourteen-week semesters (divided by the Christmas recess) and supplemented by the traditional summer session. The College has made itself responsible also for the sponsorship of public affairs of a cultural sort, bringing in musical performers, poets, dramatic companies, and speakers on subjects of timely interest.

Although, owing to the considerable number of part-time students in process, the population of the College gradually increased under the two-year plan, the number of new enrollments did not increase over the years. Various developments were expected to appeal to more and more people. These included increases in teaching staff, physical equipment, and course offerings, Flint College courses also being supplemented by "cross-over" to selected junior college courses and by enrollment in Extension courses. Service programs were introduced, too, notably the one in conjunction with the Michigan School for the Deaf, one in medical technology, and one in engineering basics. Not only was the operation proving uneconomical, but it appeared that many subject-matter areas (especially in the sciences and social sciences) would not be attractive unless a still wider range of courses could be offered on the upper-class level and unless a body of underclassmen could be drawn into them. In some areas — notably business administration, elementary and secondary education, English, and history — enrollments were satisfactory. The College was therefore grateful when a decision was made to expand it to four years, to enlarge the faculty, to provide more Page  141space and equipment (particularly for laboratories), a large lecture hall, and an auditorium, and to broaden the curriculum.

In December 1962, it became known that, at the suggestion of Mr. Mott, the Flint Board of Education and some officers of the University were engaged in a joint study of college needs in Flint. Throughout 1963 there were discussions looking towards "separate and independent colleges in Flint each with its own identity and character," and with an understanding that, for an enlarged Flint College, the Board would make instructional space available temporarily and would help to secure funds for expansion of the physical plant. The Board issued its formal invitation in April 1964, and the Regents approved at once. In October the University announced that a freshmen class would be admitted in the following fall; thirteen new teaching posts were authorized; and the faculty set to work to determine freshman requirements, courses, and curriculums.

Then a complication arose. "Branches" of several state universities had been established or were being projected during the postwar years, and the state government, which had the continuing responsibility of their operating expenses, became alarmed. There was a new state constitution, including a new State Board of Education with new language and some new duties, the legalities of which had not been tested. While the Flint College had been initiated with full knowledge and approval of the legislature, the proposed expansion to four years had not been; and although proposals for a Saginaw-Midland institution had set off the alarm in Lansing, it was the escalated Flint plan which became the testing ground.

In January 1965 Mr. Mott gave $2,400,000 for an addition to the Mott Memorial Building, expected to accommodate the needs of the enlarged college for four or five years. In February the governor's budget withheld funds for provision for four years, "pending an all-over review of institutional roles." The Flint Board of Education and various civic groups protested vigorously; and President Hatcher indicated that, unlike the restraint, the proposal to expand was not sudden but had long been publicly known. The new State Board of Education held a hearing in Flint, and the Governor's Citizens Committee on Higher Education released its report containing the opinions that a four-year college was needed in Genesee County and that both a four-year and a two-year college could operate successfully. In addition, this report Page  142"favored" autonomous state colleges rather than "branches." Early in April the State Board released its recommendations; namely: that the University should "phase out" operation of the Flint College, that a new four-year autonomous state college should be developed on a campus separate from that of the Junior College, and that no classes of freshmen after the first one should be enrolled in the Flint College of the University. There was great local opposition to these recommendations, and Mr. Mott went to the Legislature to make clear that the funds which he had pledged would not be available to a different institution. Nevertheless it was clear that the important issue was not this College but the autonomy of the University itself.

There were informal consultations with state officials; the funds allocated to the University were sufficient, though not so earmarked, to cover the first and second years' operation; a special and broadly representative committee set up by Senator Lane met once with the State Board; the first freshman class was admitted in September and selection of a second class began. In the following January 1966, contracts for the enlargement of the building were let, and additional money was added to cover increased costs. Later the University and the local E. A. DeWaters Trust each contributed $90,000 for equipment. Meanwhile, classroom space was found in the Junior College and in a neighboring church house, and more than twenty instructors had temporary accommodations on the third floor of the College library building. As the four-year college came into being, the curriculum was revised; a departmental structure was approved; the office of Academic Assistant Dean, soon to become Associate Dean, was instituted; a resident Community Relations Officer was delegated to the College from the University Relations Staff. Moreover, in 1967 the Regents created a Citizens Advisory Committee, consisting of some fifteen members, charged with the "responsibility of studying long-term educational needs of the area and the role the University might play in meeting these."

Facilities for the comfort and convenience of students had been, and continue to be, meager. There are no dormitories, largely because of a belief in the community that this College, like the Junior College, should primarily serve the immediate area. In 1966, however, arrangements were made with a real estate firm for student rental, under supervision, of the units in a nearby apartment building; in 1970 another such building was purchased and operated by the College. One social fraternity was Page  143authorized in 1967, and two others, in 1970. They serve largely as social centers, though a few members may live in their houses. Under the original plan, the student body had been older than in most colleges, notably quiet, sober, earnest; and very probably involved with homemaking or gainful employment. The addition of a younger crowd, all attending on a full-time basis, was expected to stimulate a greater degree of student "life."

An extracurricular theater group preceded the formal course offerings in theater which were instituted with the opening of the auditorium in the new addition and the hiring of a professional staff. There have also emerged some very competent volunteer musical organizations which receive token amounts of academic credit and are guided by professionals. Since 1966 there have been programs for Summer Study Abroad, with professorial supervision and financial assistance from individual local sponsors and the DeWaters Trust.

There was no violence during the period of student unrest, but there were two notable consequences. Student representation on most committees was provided for, and special attention was given to disadvantaged students, the local thrust being financed first by the DeWaters Trust, and later by the Mott Foundation. Although the original faculty had included a Black professor, and there had been other Blacks on the faculty, the enrollment of Black students had been small. In 1971 the student body was nearly 7 percent Black.

Other involvements with the community are student observation and teaching in the schools, the program for special education in conjunction with the Michigan School for the Deaf, a program in medical technology, including a clinical year in local hospitals, a cooperative program in elementary education, and in 1966 a program in urban affairs, whose students may serve as interns in various public agencies. Some professors have acted as professional consultants, and there have been workshops and lectures on various professional topics for teachers, scientists in industry, business men, and so forth, and special projects in the schools. Further afield, a program in child development, including a semester at the Merrill-Palmer Institute, has been instituted; and still further, two professors were given leave to help with the establishment of two universities in Nigeria. Many local persons and organizations have given generously to scholarship funds and other financial assistance to students.

Page  144From the beginning, there had been a recommendation that all educational activities of the University in the Flint area should be drawn together under a chief administrator. This view was reiterated in 1964 and again in 1969 by another study and planning committee. By that time, these activities consisted, in addition to the undergraduate Flint College, of the Extension Center (which for a good many years has averaged about 800 students and 1,000 course registrations) and a master's program emanating from the School of Business Administration. Moreover, there were in prospect graduate programs originating in Flint rather than in the departments in Ann Arbor. Members of the College faculty in some departments have staffed Extension courses over the years, and many undergraduates have taken advantage of these Extension offerings.

The Study Committee recommended substantial autonomy within the framework of the University and noted the possibility of complete autonomy if it were mutually desired. Coincidentally, and as "a part of the consideration of Flint College for accreditation as an operationally separate institution," it was visited in the spring of 1970 by an accreditation team of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. At the same time, by direction of the President, a committee of faculty, townspeople, and students began its attempt to define the role of a chancellor and to seek out and interview candidates. In the spring of 1971, William Moran was appointed Chancellor by the Regents and he took office on July 1. At this time, also, the Flint College became The University of Michigan — Flint, by Regental action.

In the spring of 1971 the enrollment in the College was 1,756, with 16 percent of the upperclassmen in business administration, 30 percent in elementary education, and 54 percent distributed among the several arts and sciences. The instructional staff numbered 82 full-time members (of whom the 55 of professorial rank held the doctorate) and 34 part-time members.