University of Michigan

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The logo of the University of Michigan Wolverines
A view of Central Campus

The University of Michigan (Michigan or UMich) is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded in 1817 by an act of the old Michigan Territory, as the Catholepistemiad, or the University of Michigania, 20 years before the territory became a state, the university is Michigan's oldest. The institution was moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus, a U.S. historic district. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university has expanded to include some 500 buildings spread out over the city. The university has been governed by an elected board of regents independently of the state since 1850, when the state's second constitution was officially adopted.


  • An uncommon education for the common man.
    • Said of the University by James Burrill Angell. See James J. Duderstadt, A University for the 21st Century (University of Michigan Press: 2000), p. 201.
    • University President James J. Duderstadt commented that: "If there is a particular phrase that captures the spirit of the university," it is this one. See Stephen James Nelson, Leaders in the Crucible: The Moral Voice of College Presidents (Greenwood: 2000), p. 126. It is said to be "the most celebrated phrase in University of Michigan lore," reflecting the "egalitarian notion that a student's merit," rather than wealth or connections, should govern. See David Halberstam, Defining a Nation: Our America and the Source of Its Strength (National Geographic: 2006), p. 108.
  • Hail! to the victors valiant / Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes / Hail! Hail! to Michigan, / The champions of the West!
    • Louis Elbel, "The Victors" (1898), the University's fight song
  • I want to express my thanks to you, as a graduate of the Michigan of the East, Harvard University ...
    How many of you who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world? On your willingness to do that, not merely to serve one year or two years in the service, but on your willingness to contribute part of your life to this country, I think will depend the answer whether a free society can compete. I think it can! And I think Americans are willing to contribute. But the effort must be far greater than we have ever made in the past.
    • John F. Kennedy, speech at 2 a.m. on October 14, 1960 on the steps of the Michigan Union on the University of Michigan campus, announcing his vision for the Peace Corps. The first line is a pun on the saying that Michigan is "the Harvard of the West." See Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy, Peace Corps; Stanley Meisler, When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and Its First Fifty Years (Beacon: 2011), p. 13; Robert Dallek and Terry Golway, Let Every Nation Know: John F. Kennedy in His Own Words (Sourcebooks: 2007), p. 85.
  • Believing that the character of the law schools determines the character of the legal profession, I wish to aid in enlarging the scope and improving the standards of the law schools by aiding the one from which I graduated, namely, the Law School of the University of Michigan.
    • From the will of William W. Cook, lawyer and philanthropist who contributed $20 million in 1920 to construct the University's noted Law Quadrangle. See Margaret A. Leary, "William W. Cook: Brief Biography" (October 2006), University of Michigan Law Library; Gregory L. Cascione, Philanthropists in Higher Education: Institutional, Biographical, and Religious Motivations for Giving (Psychology Press: 2003), p. 33.