Board of Regents of the University of Michigan

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The Board of Regents of the University of Michigan is the legal corporation that controls the University of Michigan, comprising the campuses at Ann Arbor, Flint, and Dearborn. The Board of Regents was created by the Organic Act of March 18, 1837 that established the modern University of Michigan. The terms of the Regents and their method of selection have undergone several changes since 1837, but the Board has served as a continuous body since then.

Although the Board of Regents was formed as a new legal entity in 1837, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled in 1856 that it was legally continuous with the Board of Trustees of the University of Michigan that was formed in 1821, and with the Catholepistemiad, or University, of Michigania that was formed in 1817. That act makes the University of Michigan the oldest university in the Big Ten. The present-day University of Michigan recognizes 1817 as the year of its founding.

Michigan is one of four states with public university governing boards elected directly by the people (along with Colorado, Nebraska, and Nevada).[1] The Board of Regents is one of three elected university governing boards in the state (the others being the Michigan State University Board of Trustees and the Wayne State University Board of Governors).

Current Board[edit]

The current Board of Regents consists of eight Regents, two of whom are elected on a partisan statewide ballot every two years to an eight-year term, plus the President of the University of Michigan as an ex officio member. The Regents (excepting the President) serve without compensation, and meet once a month in public session. As of February 2011, the Board consists of six Democrats and two Republicans:

Legal independence and the Homeopathic School[edit]

Prior to 1850, the University of Michigan in its various incarnations was a product of the Michigan Legislature (or its territorial equivalents), and the Board of Regents and its predecessors were subject to oversight and control by the Legislature. The state constitution of 1850 elevated the Board of Regents to the level of a constitutional corporation, making the University of Michigan the first public institution of higher education in the country so organized.[2] The Legislature did not give up its control easily, and the Board of Regents engaged in a number of battles with legislators before the matter was settled, several of them involving the establishment of a school of homeopathy.

In 1851, a group of citizens who supported the homeopathy movement petitioned the Legislature to force the Board of Regents to add professors of homeopathy to the medical school staff. The board took no action, but Dr. Zina Pitcher wrote a detailed account of their thinking to leave for their incoming replacements (the first class of elected regents in 1852):[3]

...shall the accumulated results of three thousand years of experience be laid aside, because there has arisen in the world a sect which, by engrafting a medical dogma upon a spurious theology, have built up a system (so-called) and baptized it Homœopathy? Shall the High Priests of this spiritual school be specially commissioned by the Regents of the University of Michigan, to teach the grown up men of this age that the decillionth of a grain of sulphur will, if administered homœopathically, cure seven-tenths of their diseases, whilst in every mouthful of albuminous food they swallow, every hair upon their heads, and every drop of urine distilled from the kidneys, carries into or out of their system as much of that article as would make a body, if incorporated with the required amount of sugar, as large as the planet Saturn?[4]

Building housing the Homeopathic Medical College at the center of the Regents' battles with the Legislature

Nothing further happened until 1855, when the Legislature revisited the subject and modified the Organic Act to include the provision that "there shall always be one Professor of Homœopathy in the Department of Medicine."[5] The Board of Regents again took no action to comply. In 1867, the Legislature used the power of the purse and passed a statewide property tax to benefit the university "provided the board of regents would comply with the law of 1855, and appoint at least one professor in the medical department of the university."[6] Although the money was desperately needed, the regents again refused to comply, and two years later the money was released by the Legislature without restriction.[7] By 1871, the expressed public desire for a Homeopathic School led the Board of Regents to consider establishing one at Detroit, separate from the Medical School. In 1875, the school was actually established, but in Ann Arbor, not Detroit.[8]

In 1895, the positions were reversed, and the Legislature tried to force the regents to move the Homeopathic School from Ann Arbor to Detroit. The regents refused, and the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution explicitly defined the powers of the Board of Regents independently of the Legislature, while every other corporation the constitution created had its powers specified by the Legislature. Justice Claudius Grant wrote: "No other conclusion was...possible than that the intention was to place the institution in the direct and exclusive control of the people themselves, through a constitutional body elected by them."[9]

This ruling established the precedent that the Board of Regents is an independent branch of the state government, answerable to the people of the state, not to the Governor or Legislature. The Homeopathic School at the center of the battle was eventually merged into the Medical School in 1922.[10]

List of Members of the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan (and its predecessors)[edit]

Catholepistemiad, or University, of Michigania (1817-1821)[edit]

The Catholepistemiad, or University, of Michigania, was established by the Governor and Judges of Michigan Territory in 1817, following a plan devised by Chief Justice Augustus Woodward. The Catholepistemiad was self-governed by the professors (or Didactors) that held its thirteen professorships (didaxiim). In fact, the thirteen didaxiim were divided up between just two men, who thus controlled the entire institution:[11]

Board of Trustees of the University of Michigan (1821-1837)[edit]

In 1821, the Governor and Judges of Michigan Territory renamed the Catholepistemiad to the University of Michigan, and placed control of the University in the hands of a Board of Trustees consisting of 20 citizens plus the Governor. Their previous positions abolished, Father Richard and Rev. Monteith were both appointed to the Board of Trustees; Monteith left that summer for a professorship at Hamilton College, while Richard remained on the board until his death in 1832.

As it was common during this era for the Governor to be absent, the various men who served as Acting Governor are included in this list in italics, but no specific dates should be inferred as to when exactly they were Acting Governor. Also, no predecessor/successor relationship among specific Trustees should be inferred from their relative position in the table. Using the terms in office cited in the historical sources, at some points there are up to 22 simultaneous Trustees, even though only 20 were called for.

Year Governor (ex officio) Appointed Trustees
1821 Lewis Cass William Woodbridge John Biddle,
Nicholas Boilvin,
Daniel LeRoy,
John Anderson,
John R. Williams,

Solomon Sibley,
John L. Leib,
Peter J. Desnoyers,
Austin E. Wing,
William Woodbridge,
William Brown
(all 11 served 1821-1837)

William H. Puthoff Rev. John Monteith Henry Jackson Hunt John Hunt Charles Larned Philip Lecuyer Father Gabriel Richard Benjamin Stead Christian Clemens
1822
Abraham Edwards Thomas Rowland
1823
1824
1825
1826
1827
Jonathan Kearsley Noah M. Wells James Kingsley L. Humphrey Richard Berry
1828
1829
1830 James Witherell
John T. Mason
1831
George B. Porter Stevens T. Mason
1832
1833
1834
Stevens T. Mason
1835
John S. Horner John McDonnell
1836
1837
Ross Wilkins John Norvell

Source: (Shaw 1942)

Appointed Board of Regents of the University of Michigan (1837-1852)[edit]

The Organic Act of March 18, 1837, created the modern Board of Regents. In its original form, it consisted of 12 members appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate, along with the Governor himself, the Lieutenant Governor, the Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court, and the Chancellor of the state. The act also created the office of Chancellor of the University, who was to be appointed by the Regents and serve as ex officio President of the Board. In fact, however, the Regents never appointed a Chancellor, instead leaving administrative duties up to a rotating roster of professors, and the Governor chaired the board himself.

Although the name of the institution they governed was the same, the Board of Regents was a distinct legal entity from the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees transferred all of their property to the new Board of Regents, but forgot to include the lot in Detroit where the Catholepistemiad had first been located. The court case involving the eventual recovery of this property led to the Michigan Supreme Court deciding in 1856 that the Board of Regents, the Board of Trustees, and the Didactors of the Catholepistemiad were a legally continuous entity. The Regents continued to treat 1837 as the founding year of the University of Michigan until 1929, when they reversed policy and adopted 1817 as the official founding date. That act makes the University of Michigan officially, if not actually, the oldest university in the Big Ten; in actuality, Indiana University, founded in 1820 and granting degrees before the University of Michigan was in existence, is the oldest Big Ten school.

Note: While dates and successions are well-defined for the ex officio Regents, readers are cautioned not to infer specific predecessor/successor relationships for the appointed Regents, except where specifically noted below by an asterisk (*) which denotes Regents explicitly named as a successor to the previous one.

Year Ex officio Regents Appointed Regents
Governor Lt. Governor Chancellor Supreme Court Justices
1837 Stevens T. Mason Edward Mundy Elon Farnsworth William A. Fletcher George Morell Epaphroditus Ransom Thomas Fitzgerald Ross Wilkins John Norvell Lucius Lyon Isaac E. Crary Samuel Denton John J. Adam Michael Hoffman Zina Pitcher Henry Rowe Schoolcraft Robert McClelland Gideon O. Whittemore
John F. Porter* Seba Murphy*
1838
Charles W. Whipple Jonathan Kearsley* Gurdon C. Leech*
1839
Charles C. Trowbridge* George Duffield* Joseph W. Brown*
1840
William Woodbridge James Wright Gordon Samuel W. Dexter Michael A. Patterson* Francis J. Higginson Daniel Hudson* William Draper
1841
James Wright Gordon Thomas J. Drake?[12] Oliver C. Comstock* John Owen* Martin Kundig George Goodman
1842
John S. Barry Origen D. Richardson Randolph Manning Alpheus Felch Elisha Crane Andrew M. Fitch William A. Fletcher
1843
Daniel Goodwin Epaphroditus Ransom Marvin Allen Lewis Cass* Dewitt C. Walker*
1844
Alexander H. Redfield* Edward Mundy Robert R. Kellogg* George Duffield
1845
Warner Wing Austin E. Wing Minot Thayer Lane
1846
Alpheus Felch William L. Greenly Elon Farnsworth George Miles Charles Coffin Taylor Elijah Holmes Pilcher Elon Farnsworth
1847 (office abolished)
William L. Greenly Charles P. Bush[12]
1848
Epaphroditus Ransom William Matthew Fenton Sanford M. Green Edward Mundy John Guest Atterbury Justus Goodman Benjamin F. H. Witherell
1849
Edwin M. Cust
1850
John S. Barry Abner Pratt Robert McClelland Gustavus Lemuel Foster* Epaphroditus Ransom*
1851
George Martin

Source: (Bentley Historical Library 2006)

Elected Board of Regents of the University of Michigan (1852-present)[edit]

The state constitution of 1850 made the Board of Regents a statewide elected body, and created the office of President of the University of Michigan, who was to be an ex officio member and preside over the Board without a vote. The first regents elected under the new system were elected in 1852.

Originally, one regent was elected from each of the eight judicial circuits in Michigan, for a six-year term, with all regents up for election simultaneously. By the time of the next election, the number of circuits had grown to ten, so ten regents were elected for the term beginning in 1858. This fluctuation in the size of the board, combined with the controversy over the regents' firing of President Henry Philip Tappan just before the end of their term in 1863, led to a new law that fixed the size of the board at eight members, elected on a statewide basis to an eight-year term, with terms staggered such that two are up for election every two years. The constitutional convention of 1908 added the Superintendent of Public Instruction as an ex officio member of the Board, a move which was reversed by the constitutional convention of 1963.[13]

Year Ex officio Regents Elected Regents
President Superintendent of Public Instruction
1852 Henry Philip Tappan Andrew Parsons Elisha Ely[14] James Kingsley Edward S. Moore Charles H. Palmer William Upjohn Michael A. Patterson Elon Farnsworth
1853 Henry H. Northrop
1854
1855
1856
1857
1858 George W. Pack John Van Vleck Luke H. Parsons Benjamin L. Baxter Levi Bishop George Bradley Ebenezer Lakin Brown James E. Johnson Donald McIntyre William M. Ferry
Henry Whiting Oliver L. Spaulding
1859
1860
1861
1862
1863 Erastus Otis Haven
1864 Alvah Sweetzer Thomas J. Joslin Henry C. Knight James A. Sweezey George Willard Thomas D. Gilbert Edward C. Walker
1865 Cyrus M. Stockwell
1866
1867 John M.B. Sill
1868 Hiram A. Burt
1869 Henry Simmons Frieze
1870 Joseph Estabrook Jonas H. McGowan
1871 James Burrill Angell
1872 Claudius B. Grant Charles Rynd
1873
1874 Andrew Climie
1875
1876 Byron M. Cutcheon Samuel S. Walker
1877 Victory P. Collier
George Duffield, Jr.
1878 George L. Maltz
1879
1880 Ebenezer O. Grosvenor Jacob J. Van Riper James Shearer
1881 Austin Blair
1882 James F. Joy
1883 Lyman D. Norris
1884 Arthur M. Clark Charles J. Willett
1885
1886 Moses W. Field Charles S. Draper Charles R. Whitman
1887
1888 Charles Hebard Roger W. Butterfield
1889 Hermann Kiefer
1890 William J. Cocker
1891
1892 Henry Howard Peter N. Cook Levi L. Barbour
1893
1894 Henry S. Dean Frank W. Fletcher
1895
1896 Charles H. Hackley
George A. Farr
1897 Harry Burns Hutchins
1898 James Burrill Angell Charles D. Lawton
1899
1900 Eli R. Sutton
1901 Arthur Hill
1902 Henry W. Carey Levi L. Barbour
1903
1904 Peter White Loyal Edwin Knappen
1905
1906 Walter H. Sawyer
1907
1908 Chase S. Osborn Frank B. Leland Junius E. Beal
1909 Harry Burns Hutchins Luther L. Wright John H. Grant
1910 George P. Codd William L. Clements
1911 Lucius L. Hubbard Harry C. Bulkley Benjamin S. Hanchett
1912
1913 Fred L. Keeler William A. Comstock
1914 Victor M. Gore
1915
1916
1917
1918 James O. Murfin
1919 Thomas E. Johnson
1920 Marion LeRoy Burton
1921
1922
1923
1924 Ralph Stone
1925 Alfred Henry Lloyd
C. C. Little
1926 Wilford L. Coffey
1927 Webster H. Pearce
1928
1929 Alexander Grant Ruthven Esther M. Cram
1930 R. Perry Shorts
1931 Richard R. Smith
1932
1933 Paul F. Voelker Edmund C. Shields
1934 Charles F. Hemans James O. Murfin Franklin M. Cook
1935 Maurice R. Keyworth
Eugene B. Elliott
1936 David H. Crowley
1937
1938 John D. Lynch Edmund C. Shields
1939
1940 Harry Kipke J. Joseph Herbert
1941
1942 Earl L. Burhans Alfred B. Connable
Franklin M. Cook
1943 Vera B. Baits
1944 Ralph A. Hayward R. Spencer Bishop
1945
1946 Roscoe O. Bonisteel Otto E. Eckert Charles S. Kennedy
1947
1948 Kenneth M. Stevens
1949 Lee M. Thurston
1950
1951 Harlan Hatcher Murray D. Van Wagoner
1952 Leland I. Doan
1953 Clair L. Taylor
1954
1955
1956 Paul L. Adams Eugene B. Power
1957 Lynn M. Bartlett
1958 Donald M.D. Thurber Carl Brablec Irene Ellis Murphy
1959
1960 Frederick C. Matthaei, Sr. William K. McInally
1961
1962 Allan R. Sorenson Paul G. Goebel
1963 (no longer ex officio Regent)
1964 William B. Cudlip Robert P. Briggs
1965
1966 Alvin M. Bentley
1967 Frederick C. Matthaei, Jr. Robert J. Brown Otis M. Smith Gertrude V. Huebner
1968 Robben Wright Fleming Lawrence B. Lindemer
1969 Robert E. Nederlander Gerald R. Dunn Lawrence B. Lindemer
1970
1971 James L. Waters Paul W. Brown
1972
1973 Deane Baker
1974
1975 Sarah Goddard Power David Laro Thomas A. Roach
1976
1977
1978
1979 Allen T. Smith
1980 Harold Tafler Shapiro
1981 Nellie M. Varner
1982
1983
1984
1985 Veronica Latta Smith Neal D. Nielson
1986
1987 Philip H. Power
1988 James Johnson Duderstadt
1989
1990
1991 Shirley M. McFee
1992
1993 Laurence B. Deitch Rebecca McGowan
1994
1995 Andrea F. Newman Daniel D. Horning
1996 Homer Neal
Lee C. Bollinger
1997 Olivia P. Maynard S. Martin Taylor
1998
1999 David Brandon Katherine E. White
2000
2001
2002 B. Joseph White Andrew C. Richner
Mary Sue Coleman
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007 Julia Donovan Darlow

Source: Names and dates (Bentley Historical Library 2006), party affiliations (Kestenbaum)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Hebel 2004
  2. ^ Guevara 2005, p. 17
  3. ^ Hinsdale 1906, p. 106
  4. ^ Michigan Dept. of Public Instruction 1852, pp. 325–326
  5. ^ Hinsdale 1906, p. 107
  6. ^ Wing & Gay 1890, p. 350
  7. ^ Hinsdale 1906, p. 57
  8. ^ Hinsdale 1906, pp. 107–108
  9. ^ Shaw 1920, pp. 168–169
  10. ^ Michigan State Medical Society 1922, p. 145
  11. ^ Hinsdale 1906, pp. 11
  12. ^ a b Charles P. Bush, acting Lieutenant Governor from 1847-1848, is listed as an ex officio Regent in (Bentley Historical Library 2006), but Thomas J. Drake, acting Lieutenant Governor from 1841-1842, is not. It is not clear whether this is an omission or a change in treatment of the acting Lieutenant Governor between 1842 and 1847.
  13. ^ Bentley Historical Library 2007
  14. ^ Elisha Ely died November 2, 1854, and his position was unfilled for the remainder of his term. (Hinsdale 1906, p. 183)

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]