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Did U Know?

Did U Know...

The Internet was born here

In 1966, the University of Michigan's Computing Center formed the Merit Network to interconnect three universities — the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University — and this was the beginning of the Internet. From 1987–1995, Merit managed the NSFNET backbone, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which in the 1990s became known as the "Internet."

Among U.S. colleges and universities, U-M has the largest Spanish language presence on the Internet

The U-M web Portal En Español offers more than 600 pages of Spanish language content focused on student information, public affairs, news announcements, Health System research efforts, podcasts and more.

"Safe, potent, effective" polio vaccine announced

The first successful polio vaccine was announced on the U-M campus in 1955 by U-M School of Public Health faculty member Dr. Thomas Francis. Francis made the announcement following two years of national field trials of the vaccine developed by his former student, Jonas Salk.

The Cube has siblings in New York, Ohio, Illinois and Miami

Designed by U-M alumnus and sculptor Bernard "Tony" Rosenthal ('36), the eight-foot square, 2400-pound Cube was installed on Regents' Plaza in 1968. While seemingly massive, the Cube will rotate on its axis, given a gentle push. The piece's dimensions were determined by the size of the truck available to transport the sculpture to Ann Arbor. Rosenthal created another cube, entitled "Alamo," and had plans to install it in Ann Arbor, but students from Cooper Union, near his New York display site petitioned successfully to keep it there. Rosenthal preferred the U-M cube to the New York one because he was able to refine the design for the U-M campus installation.

In addition to the Cube, there are over 101 outdoor sculptures and achitectural features on the Ann Arbor campuses
And they're catalogued with images and descriptions in an on-line database that you can see here.

Royal Shakespeare Company makes history here

The Royal Shakespeare Company began an unprecedented five-year relationship with the University and the University Musical Society with its residency on campus in 2001. When the RSC returned in Winter 2003, hundreds of students from many disciplines were able to participate with the company in seminars, and the community enjoyed another world-class theater experience.

Humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg studied here

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish humanitarian who worked at great personal risk to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. He later disappeared following his arrest and incarceration in a Soviet prison. Wallenberg received a bachelor's in architecture from U-M in 1935.
In 1885, the Wallenberg Endowment was established which sponsors an annual lecture and award to perpetuate the memory of Wallenberg’s heroism and nobility of spirit. A Wallenberg memorial stands at the west front entrance of the Art and Architecture building on North Campus.

Laser eye surgery was developed here

Research in the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the College of Engineering led directly to the development of laser eye surgery.

First educational towing tank is housed here

The first towing tank owned and operated by an education institution in the United States is the main model basin in the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratory at Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, University of Michigan Engineering College. Built in 1905 (remodeled 1962, 1980, 1990). The basin is equipped for a full range of experimental procedures.

Intramural Sports Building the first in the country

Dr. Elmer B. Mitchell, creator of the IMSB, wanted a place on campus where a thousand students at once could come to exercise and socialize. When the IMSB was built in 1928, it was a novelty and a curiosity. It became the forerunner of all campus recreation centers, and also incorporated many innovations that were ahead of its time.

FluMist was created here

A new way to deliver flu vaccine, FluMist is a nasal spray vaccine developed by Hunein "John" Maassab, professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health. FluMist was approved by the FDA and commercially licensed in 2003.

Creation of the Peace Corps was announced here

The goal of establishing the Peace Corps to promote volunteer service to aid people in developing nations was announced by President John Kennedy in a late-night speech in front of the Michigan Union on October 14, 1960, and there is a plaque to commemorate it on the steps there. Since the formal establishment of the Peace Corps in 1961, U-M has consistently been among the top senders of volunteers. Visit the Peace Corps 50th Anniversary website.

Robert Frost was a poet-in-residence here

Robert Frost was the first recorded poet-in-residence at
U-M. He was on campus for 10 months in 1921–1922.

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Unique Achievements, Shared Connections

Here are some innovations, innovators, artists, and world leaders with a shared U-M connection.

Madonna photo

Pop singer Madonna was a dance major at U-M in the late 1970s before moving to New York to seek her fortune.


Entertainment Industry
Pop singer Madonna
Playwright Arthur Miller
Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan
Actor James Earl Jones
Actresses Christine Lahti and Lucy Liu
Comedienne Gilda Radner

Other successful former students from the Theatre & Drama Department...

Media personalities
Television journalist Mike Wallace
Television chef Sara Moulton

Thomas Knoll, creator of PhotoShop, the revolutionary graphics software program
Larry Page, co-founder of the Internet search engine Google

Former President Gerald Ford

More " Did U Know?"

Additional information tidbits may be found in the following categories:

Additional Resources for U-M Facts