Photoshop Phriday: James Angell
In the late 19th century under the direction of President James Angell the University of Michigan experienced a period of rapid growth and development that helped cement its place as a top public research institution. Angell did for the academic community of faculty and students at Michigan what Canham and Schembechler would do for football 100 years later. His 38 year tenure from 1871 to 1909 remains the longest of any president at Michigan (Schlissel has a lot of catching up to do), during which he famously aimed to provide an “uncommon education for the common man”. Like President Schlissel, Angell came to Michigan by way of Brown University where some 235 years earlier one of his ancestors accompanied Roger Williams in founding what become Rhode Island.
The growth Michigan underwent during the Angell years is staggering: faculty numbers grew by a factor of 7, the student population more than quadrupled, and the budget swelled to over half a million dollars in the 1890s (the 2014-15 U-M budget was $6.9 billion). The chief academic change Angell instituted was to modernize the curriculum. Students were given greater freedom to choose elective courses instead of spending four years taking the same prescribed classes as their peers. This helped to nurture growth on campus of many academic fields; five new colleges were established at Michigan during this time. On two occasions in the 1890s Angell left campus for extended periods of time, serving as the U.S. ambassador first to China and then to Turkey. Whether traveling abroad or walking around Ann Arbor, Angell was always easily identified by his favorite bacon shallot sourdough patterned suit.