The University Record, September 14, 1992

Committee collects details of Michigan’s rich traditions

By Rebecca A. Doyle

From bloomers to bell bottoms to boxer shorts, from Rachmaninoff to ragtime to rap, student life at the U-M has been rich in tradition. Often on the front line of the battle for change, U-M students have not hesitated to verbalize their desire for change in student regulations, better housing, higher ratios of minority students or more parking spaces.

When a post-World War II influx of students made housing next to impossible to find, one student wrote, “We are happy to hear of the administration’s progress in realizing the wisdom of considering a new housing and admissions policy. We are too uninformed to make any sound suggestions or constructive criticisms, but we beg to submit the information that the winter’s cold is not entirely shut out by the flaps of our army tent, despite the body heat of our 23 tentmates.”

Collecting the history of student life on campus, sometimes humorous and other times serious, is one of the projects launched by the Committee on University History and Traditions, established by President James J. Duderstadt in July. The committee, headed by Robert M. Warner, professor of information and library studies and of history, hopes to make a video presentation of the history of student life on campus to show incoming students.

“It is important for people to know about their history, to give them a little more identification and a little more tie to the University,” Warner says. “It lets them know that they are part of an ongoing tradition.”

In addition to the video presentation, the committee has sent letters to deans and directors asking them to delve into their departmental histories for academic highlights, historic events or details about historic campus buildings. The committee plans to erect markers at historic sites, record oral histories of past presidents of the University, and issue an updated version of Howard H. Peckham’s The Making of The University of Michigan as part of this year’s celebration of the University’s 175th anniversary.

Committee members are Francis X. Blouin Jr., director of the Michigan Historical Collections; Anne M. Duderstadt; Carol F. LaMantia, administrative associate, Office of the President; and Nicholas H. Steneck, director of the Medical Center Historical Center.