Present tense

I’m closing the year at Michigan Today with a slate of stories I would describe as evergreen gifts tied up with neat, editorial bows.

Sure, there are a few “practical” presents in the mix — groundbreaking research in solar technologies, and an update on U-M’s annual research budget (record, high, FYI). But there also are delectable confections designed purely to delight.

First, I defy anyone to say they don’t like the Michigan Marching Band. And to know that so many of its alumni, along with SMTD grads, are out there sharing a love of music with our state’s future musicians strikes a beautiful chord. The MMB culture is a wonder to behold.

Meanwhile, who doesn’t love the Law Quad? Would you believe its benefactor never set eyes on it? Plus, there was tons of infighting behind the scenes as the gothic masterpiece grew. I highly recommend this colorful read by James Tobin that reminds us those names on streets and buildings around here belong to actual people — with opinions, feelings, and ideas.

In the poignant category, I offer a repost of a November 2017 tribute to legendary Tigers catcher Bill Freehan, currently battling Alzheimer’s. A recent piece in the Detroit press indicated Freehan’s health is declining, and I wanted to re-run this piece from to remind us of his legacy while he remains with us. I, for one, never knew he came to Michigan in 1961 on a football scholarship.

OK, here’s one that might surprise you: U-M can claim as its own Col. William Starrett, the engineer/architect/alum who built the Empire State Building. At peak production, his crew completed a floor of that building per day. Apparently, Starrett was quite a wizard in his field.

And wait: There’s more. As students, some of you may have learned about the courageous World War II hero and your fellow alumnus, Raoul Wallenberg, who saved thousands and thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis before disappearing in 1945. The “Listen in, Michigan” podcast delivers Wallenberg’s suspenseful story and ties it to today’s passionate young activists of March for our Lives and B.R.A.V.E.

So take a well-deserved a break from the chaos and madness out there. This is a perfect time to curl up with a warm cup and do some reading. Enjoy!

Deborah Holdship




  1. Roger Williams - 1985

    It is worth noting that Michigan alumni were involved in or responsible for building several of the few more than 100 story buildings in New York and Chicago.

    Wikipedia offers over 4,000 alumni profiles as well as over 1,000 additional profiles of professional graduates and over 1,000 additional profiles of athletes.

    Amongst those profiles is a profile of James Baird who directed construction of New York’s noted Flatiron building as well as a profile of Tony Rosenthal (sculptor of the cube called “Endover” at UM, and a similar sculpture called “Alamo”, which graces Astor Place in Manhattan).


    • Roger Williams - 1985

      I should have noted two things relative to my initial post just above:

      1) a disclaimer: I have no affiliation of any type with Wikipedia, other than as an editor of the Michigan article;

      2) if one cares to peruse the plethora of Michigan alums (roughly the 4th largest cohort on Wikipedia amongst all education entities), one can visit:


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