The Tappan Oak: A tale of life, death, and rebirth

A leaf from the Tappan Oak

On a sad day in November, U-M foresters felled the Diag’s decayed ‘Tappan Oak,’ so named by the Class of 1858. But thanks to a solitary student, that is not the end of the story.

  1. Mind the gap — the generation one, that is

    ‘The fears for American democracy are not unfounded,’ writes Jean Twenge, PhD ’98, in the book ‘Generations: The Real Differences between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers, and Silents — and What They Mean for America’s Future.’

  2. $15 million for connected and automated transportation, renewing U-M-led Midwest hub

    U-M will continue to lead regional efforts to transition the nation to connected and automated vehicles — bolstered by a $15-million, five-year grant from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. The partnership brings together nine colleges and universities to explore emerging technologies that address safety and sustainability.

  3. Community invited to President Ono’s inauguration March 7

    The day’s public events will include a flag-raising on the Law School Quad, two panel discussions, the installation ceremony in Hill Auditorium, and a community reception. Inaugural events will be accessible via livestream. Complimentary tickets are required for the installation ceremony.

  4. ‘A place that respected one’s confusion’

    In a book of essays marking U-M’s 150th year, playwright Arthur Miller and other distinguished alumni revisit the halcyon days of college. Set against today’s digital backdrop, ‘Our Michigan’ makes a cogent and contemporary case for the bricks-and-mortar learning experience.  

  5. The ‘breathtaking’ job of reviving an icon

    As a kid growing up in southwest Detroit, Manuel “Manny” Martinez played paintball in the hulking, long-abandoned Michigan Central Station. Today, he’s a construction superintendent helping Ford Motor Co. drive the $1 billion transformation of this historic landmark.

  6. U-M launches three XR-enhanced courses

    U-M’s Center for Academic Innovation and Coursera have launched the first three in a set of 10 planned online learning opportunities that integrate extended reality technologies into the learning experience.

‘Allow this place to be your haven’

Since its founding in 1909, U-M’s Biological Station in Pellston, Mich., has hosted students and researchers of all stripes, from natural scientists to future CEOs to aspiring poets. Immersive, magical, and fondly referred to as “Bug Camp,” the site features 50 one-room cabins in the woods. And thanks to their graffiti-loving residents all these years, no two are the same. “A Cabin in the Woods” at heritage.umich.edu details the cabins’ fascinating history. Enjoy this preview of images by Daryl Marshke of Michigan Photography.

  • Is anybody home?

    For more than a century, Michigan students have been leaving their mark on the gray metal cabins at the U-M Biological Station. They have blanketed the interior walls (and doors) with names, poems, inspirational messages, song lyrics, and drawings of the natural world surrounding them.

    A tin cabin with colorful front door.
  • Fear not

    As Kim Clarke writes in A Cabin in the Woods: “The graffiti serves as a rustic time capsule of a unique summertime experience many students say changed their lives and set the course for their careers in science and the environment.”

    Graffiti reads: The year I stopped being scared.
  • Heated

    The BioStation’s cabins are uninsulated, with open rafters and small windows that look out at neighboring cabins and pines. Each has two or three single beds along with a wood-burning stove. Toilets and showers are in communal buildings. The first batch of cabins that rose up in 1914 predate U-M’s first residence halls. Helen Newberry and Martha Cook opened in 1915.

    Logo on a wooden stove inside a cabin at U-M Biological Station.
  • Cruizin’

    The Biological Station would change how U-M students would research the mystery and wonders of nature: As early director Henry A. Gleason said, “The reign of the closet biologist is over.”

  • Golden memories

    “Bug Camp” is, first and foremost, an academic research environment that today offers 10,000 acres for study. Clarke cites this encouragement scrawled by a 2011 camper: “Allow this place to be your haven. See yourself as you are, without the influence of ‘home.’ Without friends, family, reputation, mistakes, corruption, society, gadgets, and manmade excuses for plastic happiness.”

    A lamp and desk inside a tin cabin at U-M Biostation.
  • Roaring, rustic ’20s

    New cabins – insulated and with private baths – are being considered to complement the old, some of which will remain. The modernization, including camp-wide utility upgrades, will allow the Biological Station to operate cabins year-round.

    Plaque on wooden wall with names and stars.
  • Behind the green door

    The administration also is considering preserving some of the old steel walls and their colorful graffiti to build into the new residences and display around the grounds. Doors to the modern cabins should begin opening in 2025.

    Cabin interior: Tin walls, bunk beds, green door.
  • Solo performance

    Scientists are not the only visitors to Bug Camp. Last summer, a cohort of students from the Michigan Ross School of Business trekked up north to immerse in nature, self-reflect about their goals, and  “push against the tide to bring about a new ethos in business.”

    A woman sits in front of a tin cabin at U-M Biological Station. She's casual, wearing shorts and pink t-shirt.
  • Soul food

    The BioStation is expanding its nature holdings in northern Michigan with the purchase of approximately 40 acres, a move intended to preserve the area from potential development that could adversely impact the property. The Board of Regents on May 18 approved the land purchase pending environmental review and additional due diligence.

    Graffiti on a tin wall reads: This place will feed your soul.