Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

How one cranky grad changed U-M history

“It’s just like knowing the history of your own family … “

Welcome to Episode 2 of “Listen in, Michigan,” a new podcast designed for Michigan Today readers and fans of the audio format.

In this episode, we pick up the conversation we began in Episode 1 with historian and storyteller Jim Tobin, PhD ’86. Here, Tobin explains how one cranky U-M alumnus named Frank Culver forced the University administration to amend the founding date of his alma mater, essentially adding 20 years to the life story of U-M. Meanwhile, Tobin gets a little bookish this time with stories that touch upon Arthur Miller and Robert Frost; we also learn some interesting details about the stone work in the Law Quad.

In addition, we hear from alumnus Aaron Dworkin, an accomplished violinist recognized internationally for his leadership and advocacy of diversity in the performing arts. Dworkin was appointed dean of the U-M School of Music, Theatre & Dance (SMTD) in July. He is the founder and president of the Sphinx Organization, a leading national nonprofit based in Detroit that was established to increase diversity in the arts through a variety of programs that address four main areas: education and access, artist development, performing artists, and arts leadership.

It’s a great time for Dean Dworkin and SMTD with the reopening of the renovated and expanded E.V. Moore Building — amazing new facilities for all the artists and performers coming through U-M. In addition, the school’s Department of Theatre & Drama is celebrating its centennial this year with a series of special events and performances.

And finally, we have a short message from alumnus Jack Gartner, MBA ’48, who was showcased in a Michigan Today story called Coming home, about the experience of WWII veterans who spent their U-M years living at the Willow Village at the Willow Run B24 Bomber Plant, about eight miles southeast of the Diag. Post-war housing was at a premium in the late ’40s, and some 3,000 students lived at the Village, creating their own unique campus community.

We certainly hope you enjoyed listening. Feedback is welcome. We would love to hear your stories. Feel free to email or leave your comments below.

Hear more “Listen In, Michigan” podcasts. Subscribe at iTunesTunein, and Stitcher.

(Production support and editing by Alexandra Nowlin; sound design and music by Barry Holdship.)


  1. Boyd Fellows - 1960

    Who cares?


    • Clark Cumings-Johnson - '63

      I get it! You’re cranky, too.


  2. Amanda Munson - 1998

    This was so timely! For years my family has had a Michigan letter opener with a 1937 university seal. It perplexed me as I was the first U-M grad in the family AND the seal was not the same as the one I had (that had the word “the” and the date 1817.
    The story goes that this letter opener was part of a desk set given to my grandfather’s aunt by her boyfriend/fiancée who was in medical school at U-M, presumably in the early 1900s.
    I knew from a U-M history course that the 1817 date reflected the founding in Detroit and that the founding in Ann Arbor was later (1837). I just inherited the desk set and spent some time digging around to get the full story of this desk set that captures a true snapshot in U-M history. I really enjoyed hearing a bit more about this history.


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