Building a Campus

During the 1920's the University regained its dominance of the town's economy. Enrollment reached 8,900 in 1920, almost 2,700 more than the prewar record of 1916-17, and peaked at approximately 10,200 in the fall of 1926-27. Numbers of graduate and professional students rose rapidly throughout the decade. Larger numbers of students strained available housing. Rents increased and many were forced into inadequate or far-distant quarters.

The State of Michigan, buoyed by increased income from the auto industry, dramatically raised the University's appropriation for operating expenses from $1.6 million in 1919 to $4.9 million in 1929. As a result, the University hired more employees at better wages.

The number of faculty, staff, and support personnel expanded in proportion to the growing research and maintenance responsibilities. By 1929, the University paid over $6 million in wages to some 3,000 employees, about one-half million dollars and 250 employees more than the combined total for all local manufacturing and retail trade.

In addition to more operating income, the State provided approximately $11 million over ten years for construction of new research and classroom facilities. The University supplemented these funds with an even greater amount raised from private gifts, revenue bonds, and athletic department profits. Beginning in the winter of 1921-22, the University launched a massive construction program which peaked about 1925. The central campus virtually doubled in size at the expense of the old rooming and boardinghouse district.

Around the original 40 acres, new landmarks appeared: the Clements Library in 1923; the new Literature Building (Angell Hall), the Physics Building (Randall Lab), East Engineering, and University High School (half of the present School of Education) in 1924; the new Medical Building (C. C. Little) and the first portion of the new Law School, consisting of the Lawyers' Club, dining hall, and dorm, in 1925; the Museums Building and School of Architecture in 1928; and the Michigan League in 1929. Most of the new facilities were research and classroom facilities designed to meet the increase in enrollment, the growth in graduate and professional education, and the emphasis on academic and business-oriented research. At the end of the decade, the University was finishing construction of the Law Library, John B. Cook Dorm, and Mosher-Jordan Hall, all scheduled for completion in 1930.

While the expansion of central campus continued, the University finished work on the hospital complex and built its modern athletic plant. The hospital complex increased Ann Arbor's capacity as a major medical resource center. On the athletic campus, completion of Yost Field House in 1923 increased the seating for basketball from 2,200 to 12,500. The present Michigan Stadium, opened in 1927, provided seating for 85,000 as compared to 21,000 at Ferry Field. The Intramural Building and the Women's Athletic Building opened in 1928. With the exception of the stadium, whose funds came from revenue bond sales which guaranteed seating preference, football profits financed all the athletic improvements.