Governing BoardRegents.html

ACT OF 1817. — The original act establishing the Catholepistemiad, or University of Michigania, dated August 26, 1817, stated that the president and didactors (i.e., professors), or a majority of them assembled, should have power to regulate all the concerns of the institution. They constituted its governing board, and were to be "appointed and commissioned" by the governor of the Territory. The only professors to be appointed (and these by Acting Governor Woodbridge) were Father Gabriel Richard and the Reverend John Monteith, so that until the act of April 30, 1821, creating the Board of Trustees of the University of Michigan, the institution was under the management of these two men. The board appointed under the act of reorganization did not regard the University as having been the "University of Michigan" from the beginning, but carefully observed a useful legal distinction by consistently referring to the institution of 1817-21 as the "University of Michigania" and to its successor of 1821 as the "University of Michigan" (Early Records, p. 57). The official personnel of the University of Michigania, so far as it is known, was as follows:

The Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania, 1817-1821

Faculty (Board or Corporation, ex officio)

John Monteith, Professor of Universal Science and President, ex officio 1817

Gabriel Richard, Professor of Intellectual Sciences and Vice-President, ex officio 1817


John Monteith, President1817

Gabriel Richard, Vice-President1817

John L. Whiting, Register1817

James Abbott, Treasurer1820

Abraham Edwards, Treasurer1821

The first equivalent of the present Board of Regents was known simply as the "University of Michigania" or the "University." This board, composed of President Monteith and Professor Richard acting in their corporate capacity, met on September 12, 1817, and passed several acts for the organization and management of the institution, including the establishment of the offices of register and treasurer. These offices were undoubtedly outside and subordinate to the corporation itself. A register was promptly appointed, and, together with the President, separately signed the record of each of the acts passed that day. At the same time, the "University" authorized the appointment of two boards of trustees and visitors, one for the classical academy and one for the primary school (later, schools). These boards were appointed in February 1818. Within two months they were combined and thereafter functioned as one board. The appointments were as follows:

Trustees and Visitors of the Classical Academy of the City of Detroit, 1818-1821

William Brown

Abraham Edwards

Charles Larned

Philip Lecuyer

William McCaskry

George McDougall

Alexander Macomb

William W. Petit

Solomon Sibley

John L. Whiting

Andrew G. Whitney

Austin E. Wing

William Woodbridge

John S. Roby

Trustees and Visitors of the First Primary School of the City of Detroit, 1818-1821

James Abbott

Barnabas Campeau

Joseph Campeau

James Conner

Peter J. Desnoyers

Henry J. Hunt

David C. McKinstry

Stephen Mack

Oliver W. Miller

Benjamin Stead

John R. Williams

Oliver Williams

Benjamin Woodworth

Since each board was constitutionally limited to thirteen members, it seems probable that Roby, who as a member first attended an academy board meeting on April 9, shortly before the merger, was appointed to fill out the term of some other person who had resigned. As the identity of this person is unknown, all the terms are given above as extending to 1821.

On October 3, 1817, the corporation (Monteith and Richard) appropriated funds toward the "first College of Michigania," enacted that the University faculty should be the college faculty, and also planned to appoint a board of trustees and visitors for the college. This plan was never executed.

The Board of Trustees and Visitors for the Classical Academy and Primary Schools elected certain officers at various times. The records do not make clear what their functions were, nor even of what body they were officers. The list is as follows:

Officer Elected by the Board of Trustees and Visitors of the Classical Academy and Primary Schools

Andrew G. Whitney, Secretary1818

Charles Larned, Secretary1820

Alexander Macomb, President1820

John L. Whiting, Secretary1820

James Abbott, Treasurer1820

William W. Petit, Secretary1821

Generally, the secretary must have been secretary of the board by which he was elected, as he continued to sign the minutes of meetings of that board. An exception was John L. Whiting. It seems possible that he and James Abbott and Alexander Macomb, who were elected simultaneously, were intended by the board as officers of the University. There is definite evidence that Abraham Edwards was the last treasurer of the University in the "Michigania" period (Early Records, p. 57), but the date when he became treasurer is not given. Presumably, he was appointed by the "University"; at least we do not have any record that the Board of Trustees and Visitors of the Classical Academy and Primary Schools elected him.

The original register and the first treasurer had been appointed by the "University" (that is, by Monteith and Richard acting as a corporation or board). The functions of the register of the University, so far as they are known, were like those of a secretary of that institution. This same John L. Whiting, a member of the Board of Trustees and Visitors of the Classical Academy and Primary Schools, was the first appointee to the position of register. His not signing the board minutes in the period immediately after that body elected him secretary in 1820 may indicate that the board meant to continue him as register of the University rather than to make him its own secretary.

The existing official record does not show that the Board of Trustees and Visitors of the Classical Academy and Primary Schools had proper authority to elect men to University offices, but it does show that in at least one instance near the close of the "Michigania" period the board was uncertain as to how far its jurisdiction extended. "Doubt having been expressed," the secretary of the board was directed to obtain from the register of the University the bylaws relating to powers of the board. Later, the secretary reported that because the register was out of the Territory he had not been able to carry out this request (Early Records, p. 52). The incident at least shows unmistakably that the position of secretary of the board and that of register of the University were distinct.


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Personnel of the Governing Board

The University of Michigan

Act of 1817