The University Record, February 6, 1996
Commons to be renamed in honor of Pierponts
Mary Jo Frank
Wilbur K. Pierpont, vice president emeritus and professor emeritus of accounting, and his wife, Maxine, will be honored at a ceremony celebrating the naming of the Pierpont Commons, formerly known as North Campus Commons, at 2 p.m. Feb. 16 at the Commons.
One of the original buildings on North Campus, the Pierpont Commons was built during Pierpont's tenure as vice president and chief financial officer, a position he held from 1951 to 1977. The Regents authorized the renaming of the building at their December meeting.
"In naming the Pierpont Commons, we celebrate the wisdom, foresight and humanity that Maxine and Bill Pierpont have brought to every endeavor, to their family, to their vocations and to the University," says President James J. Duderstadt. "We are truly honored to have a building that plays such an important role on North Campus bear the name of this wonderful couple."
Since the Pierpont Commons was built in 1963, it has become the hub of a vibrant and growing academic community, Duderstadt notes. He praises the leadership and forward thinking of Pierpont, former President Harlan Hatcher and the Regents who in 1952 acquired the rolling farm land north of the Huron River that has become North Campus.
Construction began in the spring of 1952 on the first North Campus building, the Cooley Memorial Laboratory. Pierpont presided over the groundbreaking for that landmark facility.
Pierpont, who earned an M.B.A. in 1938 and a Ph.D. in 1942 from the U-M, joined the Business School faculty following World War II. He served as controller from 1947 until he was promoted to vice president. He was responsible for fiscal affairs, personnel, plant operations and building construction, purchasing, business operations, investments, legal affairs and audit programs.
Under his guidance as the financial vice president, the University experienced unprecedented growth. North Campus was developed, and major expansion programs were carried out at the Medical Center and on Central Campus.
The U-M's budget grew from $40 million to $385 million between 1951 and 1977. In addition:
Assets increased five-fold, from $147 million to more than $844 million.
Endowment funds swelled from $34 million to some $200 million.
Research volume grew from $6 million to more than $71 million.
Pierpont earned a national reputation as a leader in the development of financial policies and organizational structures to respond to phenomenal growth in higher education in the 1950s and 1960s.
He was elected the first president of the National Association of College and University Business Officers in 1962. He was a trustee of the Kresge Foundation for many years; held various positions in the American Council on Education; and has served as adviser and consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and to universities and state educational commissions. Locally, he is a trustee of the Buhr and Redies foundations.
Pierpont returned to the Business School faculty in 1977, teaching there and working on major fund-raising projects until he retired in 1980. He has received many honors, including honorary degrees from Central Michigan University and Hope College, and the U-M's Outstanding Achievement Award established to "recognize notable achievements of alumni of the University of Michigan."
Shortly after their marriage in 1941, Maxine Pierpont, a graduate of Central State Teachers College (now Central Michigan University), was a substitute teacher in Ann Arbor and in Washington, D.C. She has been active in University life and the Ann Arbor community as a member of the Faculty Women's Club, the Thrift Shop, the Women's City Club and P.E.O. She also was a member of the committee for the YWCA-YMCA merger.
Friends of the Pierponts and the public are invited to the naming ceremony and reception to follow in the Pierpont Commons.