University of Michigan-Flint celebrates its 50th anniversary
FLINT — The University of Michigan-Flint is celebrating its 50th anniversary in September with activities for students, staff and alumni. Events on Sept. 25 include a cake race, student organization fair, welcome back picnic, time capsule sealing, alumni landmark dedication, alumni reception for those first students in 1956 (class of 1958), an open house for the graduate programs, as well as many other events and activities. On Sept. 28 the university will hold an official 50th anniversary ceremony and a cake cutting.
The University of Michigan-Flint began to take shape in 1944, when the Flint Board of Education asked that an extension office of the University of Michigan be opened in Flint. They hoped it would become a four-year liberal arts college in Flint with an educational program that was comparable to the Ann Arbor campus. Charles S. Mott donated money to build a classroom and office building, and the Sponsors Fund of Flint also donated funds.
Donald Valenti of Grand Blanc was part of the school’s first graduating class in 1958. “It was a very enjoyable experience. UM-Flint is a fantastic educational institution. You can’t get a better education anywhere else.” He jokes that when he was attending the college, a student activities pass only cost him $15 and it got him in to all the UM football and basketball games in a semester. “It’s a fine school, and you can get what you want right here in Flint.”
In 1971, UM regents officially changed the name of the institution to the University of Michigan-Flint. Paula Pollander, the disability services coordinator/ counselor at the college, said, “Since the 1970s, several buildings have been built, including the Mott University Center, the recreation building, French Hall, the Murchie Science building, the library and the White building.”
The University of Michigan-Flint took possession of the University Pavilion (formerly known as the Waterstreet Pavilion) from the city in 1991. Current Chancellor Juan E. Mestas was appointed in 1999. UM-Flint offers more than 100 undergraduate and 27 graduate programs in the liberal arts and a number of pre-professional and professional fields.
The school counts Newberry Award winning writer Christopher Paul Curtis as a graduate, as well as Lt. Gov. John Cherry, Bobby Crim, and Judge Archie Hayman. UM-Flint has awarded degrees to more than 27,000 students and UM-Flint graduates represent 25 countries, including the United States.
The University also has had several prominent people visit the campus over the years. Mel Serow, a senior public relations representative for UM-Flint, said, “We do an event called Critical Issues each year and it has brought some very interesting folks to campus.” One of the speakers was Jeffrey Sachs, who Serow describes as “one of the most influential economists of his generation. Sachs has advised heads of state around the world on development issues and global competitiveness.” Other prominent visitors to the University have included Al Gore, Malcolm X, Michael Moore and John Stossel.
In the past two years, the University has had visits from broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff, Arun Gandhi, Coach Ken Carter (the subject of the film Coach Carter), as well as one of the founders of Ben and Jerry’s, Jerry Greenfield.
A list of times and activities can be found at www.umflint. edu/50th/#events. Registration for the gala begins at 6:45 p.m. on Sept. 16 with dinner at 7:30 p.m. at the Northbank Center Ballroom. Tickets for the gala are $150 per person. For tickets or more information on the gala, please call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 810-767-2150.