In many ways the University of Michigan has not only provided leadership for American higher education but its impact has occasionally extended far beyond the campus to have world-wide implications.

How the University of Michigan Changed the World

University of Michigan As Trail Blazer

Michigan Firsts

(Text in blue denotes University of Michigan Alumni whose work was done elsewhere.)

(1817) Catholepistimead or University of Michigania (in Detroit with Michigan Territorial Land Grant)

  1. (1837)University moves to Ann Arbor; Michigan achieves statehood

(1845) Alpha Epsilon Chi Psi Fraternity: first fraternity house in the nation

(1850s) First effort to build true university in America similar to those emerging in Europe (von Humboldt), secular in character with a balance between teaching and research, as evidenced by the construction of the Detroit Observatory, the third largest observatory in the world (Tappan)

(1856) First university building designed and equipped solely as a chemical laboratory

(1859) First university to introduce moot courts in law curriculum

(1860s) First university to own and operate its own hospital

            Photo History of the First University of Michigan Hospital

(1868) Alumnus Joseph Beal Steere, naturalist, explorer, educator; set off in 1870 on a five-year exploration around the world, particularly on the Amazon River and later in the Philippines, where he discovered many previously unknown species of flora and fauna

(1869) Alumnus Charles F. Brush earned recognition as the "Father of the Arc Electric Lighting Industry" for his many inventions

(1870s) Created secondary school system (Henry Frieze)

(1871) Introduced the seminar method of teaching

(1873) Alumnus John Harvey Kellogg developed and advocated the eating of a dry breakfast cereal, from which came the flaked cereal product that led his brother to found the famed Kellogg cereal brand in 1906

(1870s-1890s) Developed and taught the first courses in new disciplines such as bacteriology, forestry, meteorology, sociology, modern history, journalism, and American literature, modern languages, pharmacy, speech, journalism, forest administration, sanitary science, science and art of teaching

(1880s) One of a handful of early leaders in the reform of U.S. medical education

(1880s) Leadership in introducing new disciplines of engineering: naval architecture, marine engineering (1881), aeronautical engineering (1916), automotive engineering (1913), transportation engineering (1922)

(1893) Alumna Alice Hamilton , a specialist in lead poisoning and industrial diseases, was known as the "Mother of Industrial Health." Her work led to a state law requiring medical examinations and various safety procedures in the workplace

(1900) Moses Gomberg, U-M professor of chemistry, discovered organic free radicals  

(1900s) Microbiology: development of culture techniques for parasites and spirochetes (Frederick George Novy)

  1. (1905) Naval Architecture Towing Tank

(1914) First Program in Aeronautical Engineering

(1915) First degrees in public health (together with Harvard)

(1915) Alumni E. C. Sullivan and H. W. Hess, invented in 1915 several new forms of glass, including Pyrex, "Daylight Glass" and chemical-resistant glassware, which helped relieve shortage of German-made glassware during Word War I

  1. (1919) The first student union (the Michigan Union)

  1. (1924)Development of iodized salt to wipe out endemic goiter (David Cowie)

(1924) First University to build and operate a large wind tunnel

(1929) First courses in data processing

(1920s and 1930s) Summer physics conferences on quantum mechanics

(1929) Built the first Intramural Sports Building

(1930s) Development of electrocardiogram or EKG (Frank N. Wilson)

(1931) Created the first Alumni University

(1934) First Bureau of Industrial Relations

(1939) Development of plan for voluntary health insurance (Nathan Sinai)

(1940s) William Dow led Allied scientists in the design and construction of a 125-ton jamming device used to disable German and Japanese radar systems.

(1944) Development of influenza vaccine for U.S. Army (Thomas Francis, Jr.)

(1945) Bureau of Public Health Economics established in UM School of Public

Health as primary source of archival information on medical care

(1940s) Alumnus Kelly Johnson, working for Lockheed, he established the legendary Lockheed Skunk Works and created the P-38, the F-104, the U-2 and the SR-71 Blackbird during a remarkable 40-year career.

(1940s) James V. Neal discovery that defective genes cause sickle cell anemia

(1946) Maintain and Operate A Commercial Airport (Willow Run Airport)

  1. (1947) Established The Willow Run Laboratories

(1947) Developed the first university-based programs in rocketry and guided missile technology for the Air Force

(1950s) First university program in peaceful uses of atomic energy

(The Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project)

(1950s) First degree program in nuclear science and engineering

(1950s) William Beierwaltes develops the use of I-131 in nuclear medicine using UM’s Ford Nuclear Reactor

(1950s) Developed first major programs in quantitative social sciences (Survey Research Center)

(1958) Built and operated the largest nuclear reactor on college campus (1 MW Ford Nuclear Reactor)

(1960s) Lawrence Klein develops econometric models (Nobel Prize)

(1960s) Became a major astronaut training center

(1960s) The Apollo 15 mission had an all Michigan crew (and a car) on the moon

(1962) The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

(1950s) Developed first degree program in computer engineering

(1953) Jonas Salk, research associate and fellow in the U-M School of Public Health from 1940-44, developed in 1953 the polio vaccine.

(1954) Donald Glaser, developed in 1954 the world's first liquid bubble chamber to study high-energy subatomic particles and won the Nobel Prize in physics for his invention in 1960

(1955) Clinical trials for Salk vaccine for polio (Thomas Francis)

(1957) Chihiro Kikuchi, professor of nuclear engineering, developed in 1957 the ruby maser, a device for amplifying electrical impulses by stimulated emission of radiation

(1957) Alumnus John Sheehan, pioneered in 1957 development of synthetic penicillin, the life-saving antibiotic discovered in 1928 and developed ampicillin, a semi-synthetic penicillin taken orally.

(1958) Faculty member C. Wilbur Peters and Lawrence E. Curtis developed a fiberoptic technique leading to medical endoscopy technology.

(1959) First program in engineering meteorology and later atmospheric science

(1960) First program in computer and communications science

(1964) Alumnus Jerome Horwitz, an organic chemist at Michigan Cancer Foundation, synthesized in 1964 the drug AZT, which is used to fight AIDS.

(1960s) Peace Corps and later Americorps announced at UM

(1960s) Developed time-sharing computing (MTS with IBM)

(1960) First courses in thermonuclear fusion for AEC

(1962s) Developed laser holography (Emmett Leith and Juris Urpatnieks)

(1962) The Center for Research on Learning and Teaching

  1. (1963)First university research institute on hearing and deafness (Kresge Hearing Research Institute)

(1964) Center for the Continuing Education of Women (Jean Campbell)

(1960s-1970s) Willow Run Labs development of satellite remote sensing

(1968) Alumnus Marshall Nirenberg shared the 1968 Nobel Prize in medicine and physiology for cracking the genetic code

(1968) John G. Wagner, professor of pharmacy, began to develop pharmacokinetics, a field that uses mathematical models to study the body's metabolism of drugs, and to determine safe dosage levels

(1969) Richard C. Schneider, professor of neurosurgery, co-patented a football helmet with an inflatable inner lining that is designed to reduce head injuries

(1970s) MERIT Computer Network

(1970s) Discovery that CFCs cause Ozone Hole (Ralph Cicerone)

(1976) Alumnus Samuel C. C. Ting shared the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics for co-discovering a subatomic structure called the J particle

(1982)  Discovery that Venus seas were lost to greenhouse (Tom Donahue)

(1980s) Computer-Aided Engineering Network.pdf (Richard Phillips)

(1985) Key Study and Senate testimony on health implications of tobacco (Kenneth Warner); Tobacco Research Network established in 1999

(1985) Alumnus Richard Smalley, along with two other scientists, won 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the 1985 discovery of a form of the carbon element in the faceted shape of a soccer ball called fullerene

(1986) Alumnus Stanley Cohen was co-winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering growth factors (proteins regulating cell growth) in human and animal tissue.

(1987) Development of high-power chirped-pulsed lasers (Gerard Mourou)

(1987) Douglas Richstone, professor of astronomy, discovered in 1987 evidence for massive black holes in the Andromeda Galaxy and its satellite galaxy M32

(1988) Arthur Rich and James Van House develop positron microscope

(1980s) NSFnet and the Internet (with IBM and MCI) (Doug Van Houweling, Eric Aupperle)

(1980s) Development of Photoshop (and digital photography) (Tom Knoll)

(1989) The Michigan Mandate

(1900 Donabedian Paradigm statistical model for ranking hospitals and health care facilities (Avedis Donabedian)

(1990s) Francis Collins identifies gene for cystic fibrosis and neurofibromatisis

(1990s) Developed JSTOR project for the Mellon Foundation (Randy Frank)

(1990s) First School of Information (and informatics program) (Dan Atkins)

  1. (1996)The University of Michigan Media Union - The James and Anne Duderstadt Center

  1. (1997) Refueling the Ford Nuclear Reactor with low enrichment uraniumm (John Lee)

  1. (1998) Mark Burns headed 1998 multidisciplinary team that created miniature "laboratory on a chip" for the analysis of DNA samples

2000s) Alumnus Larry Page creates Google, the nation’s leading search engine

(2000s) Created and managed the HathiTrust (world’s largest digital library)

(2000s) Involvement of SPH on Genome Wide Association Studies identifying key (druggable) targets for widespread and orphan disease (Goncalo Abecasis and Mike Boehnke)

(2000s) SPH and UM Cancer work on understand responses to chemotherapies.

(2000s) Created first University National Depression Center (John Greden)

  1. (2003)FDA approves FluMist nasal flu vaccine developed at the School of Public Health (Hunein “John” Maassab)

(2003) Alumnus Tony Fadell invents the Apple iPod

(2004) UM Libraries as leader in Google Book project