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History

Throughout its 200 year history, diversity, equity and inclusion has been intertwined in the fabric of the University of Michigan. As one of the first universities in the nation to admit women in 1870, to its historic defense of race conscious admission policies at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, U-M continues to lead the way in making higher education accessible to all.

This page explores these triumphs and tribulations, and serves as an ongoing platform to share how these experiences have shaped our present, and impact our future.

1858
  • Sarah Burger, Harriet Ada, and Augusta Chapin, are the first women to request admission to U-M and are denied.
1871
  • James Burrill Angell, inaugurated as third president of the university, and his wife, Sara Caswell Angell, served as supporters for co-education during their 38 years at the University of Michigan.
1879
  • The first sorority, Eta chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta, is established at U-M.
1882
  • Moses “Fleetwood” Walker becomes the first African American to play baseball at U-M.
1890
  • George Jewett becomes the first African American to play football at U-M. The Women’s League is established for female students, alumnae, and faculty.
1896
  • Eliza Mosher appointed first dean of women, and becomes first female faculty member.
1897
  • Fanny Elizabeth Langdon becomes the first female instructor in the sciences.
1902
  • Barbour Gymnasium, a facility specifically created for women, is completed.
    The association for Mutual Aid of Colored Students is established.
1905
  • The Women’s Athletic Association is formed.
1908
  • Palmer Field, a women’s athletic field, is purchased and equipped.
1909
  • Alpha Epsilon Phi is established as the first Jewish sorority on campus.
  • Established on April 10, Alpha Phi Alpha becomes the earliest known African American fraternity at U-M.
1911
  • Louis A. Strauss becomes the first Jewish faculty member at U-M.
1915
  • The University of Michigan’s first two women’s residence halls, Martha Cook and Helen Newberry, open.
1917
  • A central corresponding committee of alumnae, which in 1920 changes its name to the Alumnae Council of the Alumni Association, is established.
  • Regent Levi Lewis Barbour establishes the Barbour Scholarships for Oriental Women.
1921
  • On April 7, Nu Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta is chartered at U-M – becoming the earliest known African American sorority at the university.
1926
  • Negro-Caucasian Club founded.
1928
  • Women’s Athletic building completed.
1929
  • The Michigan League is opened as a meeting place for female students, faculty, and staff.
  • Esther Marsh Cram becomes the First female Regent and Mary Barton Henderson becomes the first alumnae secretary.
1936
  • International Center established, with J. Raleigh Nelson as director.
1947
  • Center for Japanese Studies formed
1956
  • Women permitted to enter the front door of the Michigan Union
1962
  • The practice of “In Loco Parentis” as it regards overseeing female students is abolished.
1963
  • Coeducational dormitories are approved beginning with the fall term, and a single director of residence halls is appointed to administer both men and women.
1964
  • Center for Continuing Education of Women founded (now known as the Center for the Education of Women).
1965
  • Regents approve a merger of the Michigan League and Michigan Union, thus establishing a University Activities Center (UAC). Both buildings become open to all students.
1968
  • Requirements for mandatory residence hall hours for women are eliminated by the Regents.
  • On April 9, minority students under the Black Student Union take possession of the Administration Building (currently the LSA building) demanding increases in minority enrollment and support services for minority students.
  • Barbara Newell is appointed the acting vice president of Student Affairs – becoming the first woman to serve as an executive officer.
1970
  • The Black Action Movement (BAM) boycotts classes for two weeks in March.
  • Michigan celebrates the centennial of women at the University.
  • The intramural sports building building opens to women.
  • The Center for AfroAmerican and African Studies is established.
1971
  • The William Monroe Trotter House opens.
  • Commission for Women established.
1972
  • Women are allowed to join the Michigan Marching Band.
  • Henry Johnson becomes the Vice President for Student Services – first African American administrator at the University of Michigan.
  • Federal grant enables UM to renovate for wheelchair accessibility.
1973
  • An intercollegiate varsity athletic program for Michigan women is established with the introduction of six varsity sports.
  • The executive committee of the Literary college approves the proposal for a women’s studies program.
1975
  • All athletic facilities open to both men and women.
1981
  • Women’s athletic programs officially admitted into the Big Ten Conference.
1993
  • The Board of Regents outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.