February 20, 2017
Old school: U-M in History
A sculpture of Henry Philip Tappan was placed for many years in Alumni Memorial Hall, which is now the U-M Museum of Art. In the mid-1980s, the sculpture was moved next door to Tappan Hall. (Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library)
On June 25, 1863, the University of Michigan Board of Regents voted to remove the university's first president, Henry Philip Tappan, from office. Among the grievances presented against Tappan, officials said he had taken on too much power; there had been excessive animosity between Tappan and faculty members; and he tended to attack professors' character and motives when he fell into disagreements with them. After his dismissal, students went to the President's House and sang songs to honor the Tappans, and threw rocks at one of the regents' home. The regents received a number of letters demanding Tappan's reinstatement, but several faculty members submitted a "pledge of cooperation" to Tappan's replacement, Erastus Haven. After several years, the Board of Regents later recorded, "their full recognition of the great work" done by Tappan and their "regret that any such action should ever have been taken as would indicate a want of gratitude for his eminent services." They also approved a "repeal and withdrawal of any censure, express or implied, contained in the resolution which severed his connection with the University."
— Adapted from "Tappan's End," by James Tobin. To read more, go to heritage.umich.edu.