The University Record, June 21, 1999

$30 million gift to‘transform’ Architecture and Urban Planning

By Judith Malcolm
Office of the Vice President for Development
and Jane R. Elgass

“Now we feel a whole set of responsibilities. We must do the transforming,” said President Lee C. Bollinger last week in announcing the $30 million gift by businessman and philanthropist A. Alfred Taubman to the College of Architecture and Urban Planning. “This is one of the largest gifts in the University’s history and the most generous single gift ever made to a school of architecture in the United States,” Bollinger noted.

As a result of the gift, and by action of the Regents last week, the College now is known as the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

“Our aspirations—with this extraordinary gift—are no less than to transform the Taubman College into one of the preeminent schools of architecture and urban planning in the world,” Bollinger said. “This is a visionary gift, enabling us in one stroke to take giant steps forward in the next few years.”

In discussion at the June 17 Regents’ meeting, Bollinger noted that “it is a very serious matter for the University to name anything. It has to be consistent with our purposes, our functions, our values. We name chairs, rooms, buildings. Naming a school is the most important. The gift must be transformative,” Bollinger explained, “to help raise [the school’s] level of academic excellence.” He also noted that naming must be appropriate to the mission of the school and is done only after broad discussion within the University.

Provost Nancy Cantor explained, “When Douglas Kelbaugh joined the University as dean of the College of Architecture and Urban Planning, we began to talk about the school’s programmatic and scholarly needs over the next decade. Because the Taubman gift is unrestricted endowment for the College, we will be able to allocate the new income in precisely the areas where it will make the most difference.”

Doug Kelbaugh, the smiling dean. Photo by Bob Kalmbach
Described by Bollinger as “the new dean who walks onto campus and can do nothing but smile,” Kelbaugh said the endowment gift “will provide the ongoing funding we need literally to transform the College. New merit scholarships and fellowships will improve our ability to compete nationally for the top applicants. We will also build on the strength of our faculty through several new appointments of junior and senior scholars and practitioners.” Faculty appointments and student financial aid have been identified as “glaring needs” by the College.

Kelbaugh, who Bollinger said “worked tirelessly on the conceptualization of the gift,” joined the U-M last July, coming from the University of Washington.

The dean told the Regents that the faculty appointments—of distinguished practitioners and scholars, will be in addition to the normal course of appointments. In addition to bringing “luminaries” to the College, the appointments will make possible a better faculty-student ratio.

The College has to increase scholarships and fellowships by about 40 percent to attract those students who most likely would be lost to peer institutions, some of which provide full-ride aid.

Kelbaugh noted that in discussions about the gift, both a physical facility and endowment were considered, but the decision favored endowment. “It is unusual that on this point there was consensus among a faculty dedicated to building buildings.”

In thinking about the gift, the dean said, the College also identified some of the important and critical issues facing the study and practice of architecture and urban planning, raising such questions as:

  • How will our planet and its cities accommodate vast increases in population while providing both quality of life and ecological sustainability? The United Nations has predicted that by 2025, 60 percent of the planet’s population will be urban.

  • What are the positive and negative impacts of telecommunications and computers in a world where traditional notions of place and community are challenged?

  • What are the appropriate roles of the public, private and not-for-profit sectors related to issues of physical scale, art, craft, personal expression, and social and racial equity?

    Taubman is founder and chairman of The Taubman Company Inc., a leading developer of innovative retail and commercial projects, and chairman of Sotheby’s, the leading international art auction house. He attended the College of Architecture and Urban Planning and has been a longtime friend and adviser to the College. In 1991, the University awarded Taubman an honorary doctor of laws degree. His daughter, Gayle Taubman Kalisman (BFA ’74), graduated from the School of Art and Design and received a certificate in education.

    One of the U-M’s most generous benefactors, Taubman has made gifts to the Medical Center for the construction of the A. Alfred Taubman Health Care Center and Taubman Medical Library. This latest gift to the University is the largest he has made to any institution.

    In making the $30 million commitment to the University, Taubman said: “This gift represents both my deep respect for the University of Michigan and my commitment to the study of architecture and urban planning. It is an honor and pleasure for me to be able to provide this support to the College.”

    The Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning is only the second school to be named. In 1935, the Regents established the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies as a result of a gift from the trustees of the Horace H. Rackham and Mary A. Rackham Fund of Detroit, which gave the University $6.5 million for a building for graduate studies and an endowment to support scholarly investigations.

    About the College

    The A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning has a long and distinguished tradition. Courses in architecture were first offered at the U-M in 1876, and recognized as a formal course of study within engineering in 1906. Under Emil Lorch’s leadership, the program grew steadily in size and stature and, in 1913, the University granted the program departmental status. Lorch continued to shape the program and, in 1923, was instrumental in bringing Eliel Saarinen from Finland to teach at Michigan. By 1931, the College of Architecture was established as a separate entity.

    Michigan was not only one of the few schools that considered research to be a necessary element of architectural education, but also introduced one of the first urban planning graduate programs in the country by the mid-1940s. In addition, the U-M became the first American school to offer a doctor of architecture degree in 1969. The introduction of the doctoral program was a natural development due to the history of architectural research at the College. A sociotechnical focus was also added to the doctoral program in urban and regional planning, which became the Ph.D. Program in Urban, Technological and Environmental Planning (UTEP), giving the College one of the largest and most comprehensive programs of professional and doctoral education in both architecture and urban planning.

    Throughout its existence, the benchmarks of the College have been a rigorous curriculum, an excellent faculty, strong programs of research and scholarship, talented students and the ability to respond to change. Today, it continues to foster a broad view of architecture and urban planning in the context of a major research university. Graduates include John Dinkeloo, Charles Moore, Charles Correa and Raoul Wallenberg.

    Largest single gifts by individuals

    $30 million

    A. Alfred Taubman

    College of Architecture & Urban Planning

    $30 million

    William Davidson

    Davidson Institute at the Business School

    $17.6 million

    Frederick G.L. Huetwell Estate

    Medical School, LS&A

    $16 million

    William W. Cook Endowment

    Law Quad and William W. Cook Fund

    $12 million

    Ann Lurie

    Robert H. Lurie Engineering Center and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Tower

    $10.1 million

    Elizabeth Long Estate

    Law School

    $10 million

    Roy and Natalie Roberts

    School of Dentistry

    $10 million

    Sam Wyly

    Sam Wyly Hall at Business School

    $7.5 million

    Preston Robert "Bob" Tisch

    Tisch Hall at the south end of Angell Hall

    and the Tisch Tennis Building

    $7.3 million

    Benton Estate

    Business, engineering and other programs

    $6.4 million

    Irene Shipman Estate

    Financial aid

    Source: Office of the Vice President for Development. List does not include corporate and foundation gifts.