Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

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Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies (University of Michigan) Records and Publications

The material in this digital repository is part of a larger record group for the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to these records, please consult the following online finding aids:

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For questions or additional information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services.

Graduate School of the University of Michigan. Collection includes archived versions of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies website from 2002 and 2003 with information on the school's policies, curriculum, faculty, programs, and events.

While the University of Michigan made its first provisions for graduate study in 1845, throughout most of the nineteenth century there were few graduate students to educate. Control of graduate programs was vested in the various university departments. University President James B. Angell advocated, in the late nineteenth century, the establishment of a graduate school, and in the academic year 1891/92 his goal was partially achieved when the College of Literature, Science and the Arts established a separate Graduate Department.

The Graduate Department was unable to coordinate graduate programs outside of the college. To make such coordination possible, the Regents established a university Graduate Department during the academic year 1911/12. This department was independent of any special faculty and was granted its own budget. Its primary purposes were to coordinate graduate education and to promote research. In 1915, through a general university revision of titles, the department became the Graduate School.

As part of its responsibility for promoting research, the Graduate School was made responsible for all university publications in 1913. As early as 1920 the school's governing board advocated the establishment of a separate university press. This was done in 1930, and responsibility for university publications was gradually transferred to the Administrative Committee of the University Press. The final transfer of authority occurred in 1935.

More important than its role of university printer was the responsibility of the Graduate School to dispense university research funds. Most general fund expenses for research, notably the Faculty Research Fund, flowed through the Graduate School, as did many private gifts received by the university to further research. In order to better coordinate the expenditure of this money, President Alexander G. Ruthven suggested in 1929 the establishment of university-wide divisional committees. These interdisciplinary advisory bodies came to have great importance in deciding which requests for support would be funded.

In 1935 the Graduate School's prestige and resources were substantially increased by the bequest of Horace H. Rackham. A total of 6.5 million dollars was received. Four million dollars was put aside as a perpetual endowment, the Horace H. and Mary A. Rackham fund, while the remainder was used to construct a suitable building to house the Graduate School, now renamed the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies. The Rackham Building was dedicated June 17, 1938.

In addition to dispensing research funds, the Graduate School coordinated the efforts of major research projects that were not governed by any other university unit. Examples are the Institute of Public and Social Administration (IPSA), founded in 1936 (now the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy), and the Bureau of Government, administered by the IPSA. Another example is the Institute for Human Adjustment (IHA), which at its founding in 1937 administered four major programs, the Fresh Air Camp, the Speech Clinic, the Social Science Research Project, and the Bureau of Psychological Services. In 1951 the Division of Gerontology was created under the IHA. A final example is the Statistical Research Laboratory (SRL), founded in 1946. In 1959 the Computing Center was created as a separate division of the SRL. The burden of administration created by overseeing so many large projects proved troublesome. In the 1960s the Graduate School attempted to find suitable university units to become responsible for the oversight of many of these large projects.

Another reason for the transfer of projects was that during the 1950s the Graduate School became a central coordinating body for all university research, taxing the school's resources. In academic year 1947/48 the Committee on Budget Administration of the university directed that all university trust funds supporting research be reported to the Graduate School. In 1959 a vice-president for research was established within the university, the position to be held by the dean of the Graduate School. The decision to combine the posts of vice-president and dean in one person was reversed in the academic year 1964/65. (The positions were temporarily merged for several years in the mid 1980s under Dean Alfred Sussman and then separated again when John D'Arms assumed the deanship of Rackham.)

From the post World War II period until the 1970s the federal government continually increased the amount of funding available from it for research. Most of this money, however, was channeled to scientific and technical areas. To compensate for this imbalance, the Graduate School funneled most university research funds into the humanities and the social sciences. University research money given to scientific and technical areas tended to be seed money, funds to help a faculty member perform basic research necessary to attract a larger, non-university grant.

In 1990, the positions of Dean of Rackham and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs were combined to reflect the close relationship between the Office of the Provost and the Graduate School (later the title of the dean's supplemental administrative appointment was modified to Vice Provost for Academic Affairs -- Graduate Studies). In this dual role, the Dean of Rackham was involved in a number of initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s at the university, including the development of the Institute for the Humanities in 1987 and the reorganization of international programs at the university and establishment of the International Institute in 1993. Within Rackham in the late-1990s, there was a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary initiatives, including the development of the Rackham Summer Interdisciplinary Institute and the Rackham Interdisciplinary Seminars, both in 1997.

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Copyright held by the Regents of the University of Michigan

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