The University of Michigan (UM, U-M, U of M, or UMich), often simply referred to as Michigan, is a public research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The University of Michigan is the state’s oldest university, founded in 1817 in Detroit, Michigan as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, 20 years before the Michigan Territory became a state. It moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 onto 40 acres (16 ha) of what is now known as Central Campus. Since its establishment in Ann Arbor, the university campus has expanded to include more than 584 major buildings with a combined area of more than 34 million gross square feet (780 acres; 3.2 km2) spread out over a Central Campus and North Campus, two regional campuses in Flint and Dearborn, and a Center in Detroit. The University was a founding member of the Association of American Universities.
Considered one of the foremost research universities in the United States, Michigan is classified as one of 115 Doctoral Universities with Very High Research by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. As of 2017, 24 Nobel Prize winners, 6 Turing Award winners and 1 Fields Medalist have been affiliated with University of Michigan. Its comprehensive graduate program offers doctoral degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as well as professional degrees in architecture, business, medicine, law, pharmacy, nursing, social work, public health, and dentistry. Michigan’s body of living alumni comprises more than 540,000 people, one of the largest alumni bases of any university in the world.
Besides academic life, Michigan’s athletic teams compete in Division I of the NCAA and are collectively known as the Wolverines. They are members of the Big Ten Conference.
The University of Michigan was established in Detroit on August 26, 1817 as the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, by the governor and judges of Michigan Territory. Judge Augustus B. Woodward specifically invited The Rev. John Monteith and Father Gabriel Richard, a Catholic priest, to establish the institution. Monteith became its first President and held seven of the professorships, and Richard was Vice President and held the other six professorships. Concurrently, Ann Arbor had set aside 40 acres (16 ha) in the hopes of being selected as the state capital. But when Lansing was chosen as the state capital, the city offered the land for a university. What would become the university moved to Ann Arbor in 1837 thanks to Governor Stevens T. Mason. The original 40 acres (160,000 m2) was the basis of the present Central Campus. This land was once inhabited by the Ojibwe (Chippewa), Odawa (Ottawa), and Bodewadimi (Potawatomi) Native tribes and was obtained through the Treaty of Fort Meigs. In 1821, the university was officially renamed the University of Michigan. The first classes in Ann Arbor were held in 1841, with six freshmen and a sophomore, taught by two professors. Eleven students graduated in the first commencement in 1845.
By 1866, enrollment had increased to 1,205 students, many of whom were Civil War veterans. Women were first admitted in 1870. James Burrill Angell, who served as the university’s president from 1871 to 1909, aggressively expanded U-M’s curriculum to include professional studies in dentistry, architecture, engineering, government, and medicine. U-M also became the first American university to use the seminar method of study. Among the early students in the School of Medicine was Jose Celso Barbosa, who in 1880 graduated as valedictorian and the first Puerto Rican to get a university degree in the United States. He returned to Puerto Rico to practice medicine and also served in high-ranking posts in the government.
From 1900 to 1920, the university constructed many new facilities, including buildings for the dental and pharmacy programs, chemistry, natural sciences, Hill Auditorium, large hospital and library complexes, and two residence halls. In 1920 the university reorganized the College of Engineering and formed an advisory committee of 100 industrialists to guide academic research initiatives. The university became a favored choice for bright Jewish students from New York in the 1920s and 1930s, when the Ivy League schools had quotas restricting the number of Jews to be admitted. Because of its high standards, U-M gained the nickname “Harvard of the West.” During World War II, U-M’s research supported military efforts, such as U.S. Navy projects in proximity fuzes, PT boats, and radar jamming.