Kresge Library

Meadow Brook Seminars

Introductory comments for December 13 (1958) Seminar

Meadow Brook Hall

I. The Wilson Gift to Michigan State University

In January of 1957 Mr. and Mrs. Alfred G. Wilson announced that they were giving their beautiful 1400 acre estate (Meadowbrook) in Oakland County, Michigan plus $2 million to Michigan State University for the purpose of establishing a branch university. In addition to the 1400 acres, the estate consists of Meadowbrook Hall, one of the world's fine residences; the modern, small home of the Wilsons (Sunset Terrace); plus several other residences and farm buildings. The $2 million was for the purpose of constructing the first academic building for the new university.

Prior to this gift, Dr. Sarah Van hoosen Jones had given the University 350 acres of land in Oakland county, located 5 miles northeast of Meadowbrook. Following the Wilson gift, the university has acquired an additional 200 acres immediately adjacent to the Wilson property.

In total, then, Michigan State University now owns almost 2000 acres of land in Oakland County, plus several buildings, and now has under construction the first academic building for this new university. A half-million dollar Student Center is being planned and will likely be completed by September of 1959.

II. The Educational Potential of the New University.

The Meadowbrook Estate is located in the eastern part of Oakland County, near the Macomb County line. In relation to existing population centers, it is 3 miles east of Pontiac (population 80,000), 3 miles west of Rochester (population 5,000), and 25 miles north of Detroit.

The enclosed mimeographed maps give some indication of the potential of this area. The combined population of Oakland and Macomb Counties is currently in excess of 1 million, and it is predicted rather conservatively that by 1980 this combined figure will be approximately 2 million.

On the second map a circle is described with the Meadowbrook Estate at the center and with a radius of 15 miles. Demographers estimate that currently almost 50,000 young men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 live within this circle, and that this figure will exceed 100,000 by 1970.

The staggering potential of this are is underscored by the fact that there is not now a single post-high-school educational institution, public or private, in either county-- except for a new community college in south Macomb County.

Adding to this potential in another dimension is the highly advantageous location of the top research headquarters of the automotive industry. Twelve miles away is the new General Motors Technical Center; less that three miles away is the site for Chrysler's proposed center for research; and Ford's new proving grounds and testing center is about 12 miles distant.

III. The Michigan State University - Oakland Foundation

In accepting the Wilson gift, President John A. Hannah of Michigan State University announced the appointment of a committee of approximately 40 community leaders from the two counties to assist in developing the new university along the most productive lines.

This committee has subsequently been incorporated into the Michigan State University - Oakland Foundation and will serve in a permanent advisory and supporting role to the official governing Board of Michigan State University and Michigan State University - Oakland.

Many important recommendations have been made by the Foundation and they have all been accepted by the officials of Michigan State University. These will be reflected in Section IV which follows.

The Foundation is operating with an Executive Board (the seven officers) and four major committees. These committees are:

  1. Program Development Committee, chaired by Mr. James C. Zeder, Vice President, Chrysler Corporation.
  2. Continuing Education Committee, chaired by Mrs. Elizabeth H. Gossett, wife of William T. Gossett, Vice President, Ford Motor Company.
  3. Community Relations Committee, chaired by Dr. Paul K. Cousino, Superintendent, Warren Public Schools.
  4. Finance Committee, chaired by Mr. Don. E. Ahrens, retired Vice President, General Motors Corporation.

IV.   Basic Assumptions

In thinking through the problems under current discussion, you may assume that:

  1. Michigan State University - Oakland will open in the fall of 1959 for a freshman class only.
  2. If our studies are at all accurate, the opening class size shall be about 600. (It could, of course, be substantially higher)
  3. Initially, there shall be one general purpose academic building available, containing 39 classrooms, 2 elementary physics and chemistry laboratories, 2 large lecture rooms, and library and faculty offices. There shall be approximately 2000 student stations in the building. In addition to this, there shall be a Student Center Building for student and faculty food service and social activities.
  4. This shall be a 4-year institution, with graduate work developing at the earliest possible date.
  5. There shall be degree programs offered in 4 areas: Liberal Arts, Business Administration, Teacher Education, and Engineering Science.
  6. This new university shall have a high degree of administrative autonomy, with a relationship to Michigan State University similar to the one existing between the University of California and the University of California at Los Angeles.
  7. There shall be a substantial program in Adult or Continuing Education, with particular emphasis upon evening and Saturday graduate classes.
  8. The primary source of financial support shall be from legislative appropriations, although there is a strong possibility of non-public funds as the university develops.
  9. The Foundation Trustees, the administrative officials, and the governing Board of Michigan State University are committed to the notion of developing a first-class educational institution, and are willing to adopt such measures as promise to achieve this goal.

V. The central and subsidiary questions

The central questions toward which we would like to have you direct your comments is:

With your experience and knowledge in the field of educational matters, and given a clean slate upon which to write, how would you go about developing a program which will insure that the students at this new institution are, in fact, liberally educated regardless of the field of specialization?

  2. Important and related questions which we would like to consider are:
  A. What are or should be the broad objectives of the liberal arts educational program?
    1. Are these objectives likely to be similar in the future to those of the pst or the present? If different, in what ways?
    2. If we are to assume that from 40 to 50 percent of our college-age youth will seek and can conceivably benefit by a college education, will this alter the appropriate goals of liberal education for all students?

  B.. What should be the content and major concerns of a liberal arts educational program to fulfill all these objectives?
    1. What course of study should be established for all students? For liberal arts students?
    2. Subject matter has a tendency to be categorized in terms useful for research purposes and then translated into courses with similar labels and distinctions. Are these the best categories for teaching purposes at the undergraduate level?
    3. If the traditional fields within the liberal arts could be reorganized, should they, and if so, how?
    4. In what ways can the undergraduate curriculum be adapted to a world that is becoming ever smaller in terms of space and time and ever more complex in terms of the number and kinds of direct and indirect pressures brought to bear upon individuals and groups?
  C. How should we try to resolve the need for both synthesis and specialization in the liberal arts?
    1. As specialized study and research have increased the quantity and scope of knowledge, the possibility of any man knowing more than a small portion of the whole has become more and more remote. If, therefore, it is impossible for a man to know all that men know, what is the obligation in liberal education to seek a synthesis even if error and inadequacy are likely concomitants to such a search?
    2. If liberal education is oriented to a synthesis of knowledge, including its conceptual apparatus and means of attainment, what does this imply for the organization of the curriculum?
  D. How can we orient our total educational program to do more in developing the inquiring mind?
  I. Are students in most American colleges spending too many hours in class taking too many separate courses and not enough time in the library, the laboratory, and the museum seeking to discover things for themselves.
  E. What relations should be established administratively and academically with the other major divisions, e.g.
    A. Engineering?
    B. Business Administration?
    C. Education?
    D. Adult Education?

  F. Much present day teaching and research crosses traditional lines. Yet our academic bureaucracy is organized along the lines of traditional subject-matter disciplines. Would liberal education become more genuinely liberal if we thought in terms of goals rather than means and reorganized our departmental and divisional structures accordingly, and if so, how?
  G. why are we as a nation--including the "educated" among us--so inept in the use of our native language? What can a liberal education hope to accomplish in this area and how can it be done?
  H. What can we do in our liberal arts education to lead the alumnus in the direction of continuing and deliberate self-education throughout life?
  I. What should be the relationship between the formal curriculum and the informal or extra curriculum? How should personal counseling be handled? What should be the relationship to academic counseling? What should be the responsibility in liberal arts for a healthy body (Greek tradition)? what does this imply for physical education, inter-collegiate athletics?
  J. Would it be possible and/or desirable to operate on the basis of a year-round program (a four quarter system) including evening programs and Saturday morning programs?
  K. It has been suggested that the educational process would be more productive if we limited the courses taught in any one quarter to three but have each such course carry five hours of credit. In your judgment, would such an approach be workable within the curricular framework for liberal arts such as you would propose?
  L. What steps can be taken to achieve the maximum possible utilization of the faculty? For example, how can we move toward a larger number of students which can be effectively taught by one faculty member? Stated differently, how can we increase the "efficiency" of the educational operation?
VI. The Agenda for the December 13 Seminar
  Chairman: Mr. James Z. Zeder
  8:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. - General Introduction and Orientation
Mr. James Z. Zeder, Vice President, Chrysler Corporation
Dr. John A. Hannah, President, Michigan State University
  9:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. -- Panelists' Presentations
    Dr. Ralph W. Tyler, Director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California
Dr. Milton S. Eisenhower, President, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland
Dr. Sarah G. Blanding, President, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York
  10:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. --Coffee and Informal Discussions
  10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. --Panelists' Presentations
    Mr. Henry R. Luce, Editor-in-Chief, Time, Incorporated, New York City
    Dr. Henry Steel Commager, Professor of History and American Studies, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts
  11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. --Press Conference for panelists and others who may be involved.
  12:15 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. --Lunch -- Meadowbrook Hall
  1:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. --General discussion open to all present
  3:30 p.m. to 3:40 p.m. --Summary from the standpoint of general education
Dr. Edward A. Carlin, Dean, Basic College, Michigan State University
  3:40 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. --Summary from the standpoint of liberal arts education
Dr. Milton E. Muelder, Dean, College of Science and Arts, Michigan State University
  3:50 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. --Closing comments
Mr. James C. Zeder, Vice President, Chrysler Corporation
  4:00 p.m. --Adjournment
VII. Physical Arrangements
  1. Panelists will be met at Willow Run Airport on Friday and returned on Saturday by Mr. James C. Zeder/
  2. For those arriving early enough, there shall be a tour of Meadowbrook Hall and the Estate at 3:30 p.m. Friday
  3. Dinner at 6:30 p.m., Bloomfield Hills Country Club, for guest panelists, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson, Program Development Committee members and wives, and Michigan State University officials.
  4. Guest panelists and Michigan State University officials will be guests at Meadowbrook Hall Friday night.
  5. Breakfast for guest panelists and Michigan State University officials at Sunset Terrace -- 7:30 a.m.
  6. Lunch -- Meadowbrook Hall -- 12:15 p.m.
  7. Meeting to be adjourned and guests depart -- 4:00 p.m.
VIII Personnel to be included in seminar
  1. Guest panelists -- 5
  2. Zeder Committee -- 9
  3. MSUO Foundation Executive Committee --- 5
  4. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson -- 2
  5. Michigan State University group -- 8
  6. Lunch -- Meadowbrook Hall -- 12:15 p.m.
  . Press will not be included during the seminar, either morning or afternoon. They will have lunch with the group and will hold a press conference from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Saturday.

In order to promote free discussion, this meeting will not be recorded verbatim but will be summarized.


Judge Clark J. Adams, Waterford, Oakland County Circuit Judge

Don E. Ahrens, Retired General Manager of Cadillac Division and Vice President of General Motors Corporation, Vice President of Oakland Foundation and chairman of Finance Committee.

Christian Beukema, Birmingham, President of the Michigan Limestone Division of U.S. Steel Corporation.

*Jude Howard Carroll, Mt. Clemens, Macomb county Circuit Judge

Mrs. L. L. Colbert, Bloomfield Hills, wife of the President of the Chrysler Corporation

Paul K. Cousino, Superintendent of Warren Consolidated Schools, Vice President of Oakland Foundation and Chairman of Community Relations Committee.

Major General Robert E. L. Eaton, commander, Tenth Air Force, Selfridge Field.

Coy G. Eklund, Agency Manager, Equitable Life Assurance Company, Detroit.

William J. Emerson, Pontiac, Oakland County Superintendent of Schools.

E. F. Fisher, Brighton, President of Garwood Industries, Incorporated.

Harold A. Fitzgerald, Publisher of the Pontiac Press, President of Oakland Foundation.

Alfred C. Girard, Pontiac, President of the community National Bank, Treasurer of Oakland Foundation.

*Miss Marion Goodale, Bloomfield Hills, Headmistress of Kingswood School, Cranbrook.

*John Gordon, Bloomfield Hills, President of General Motors Corporation.

*Mrs. William T. Gossett, Bloomfield Hills, wife of the Vice President of Ford Motor Company, Vice President of Oakland Foundation and Chairman of Continuing Education Committee

Fred Haggard, Waterford, President of the Oakland County C.I.O Council.

Delos Hamlin, Farmington, Chairman of the Oakland County Board of Supervisors.

*George J. Huebner, Jr., Bloomfield Hills, Chrysler Corporation.

*Ernest A. Jones, Bloomfield Hills, President of MacManus, John & Adams, Inc.

Miss Sarah Van Hoosen Jones, Rochester, former member of the State Board of Agriculture.

Bernard A. Kalahar, Centerline, Chairman of the Macomb County Board of Supervisors.

Adolph F. Klein, Royal Oak, President of the Wayne - Oakland Bank.

S.E. Knudsen, Bloomfield Hills, General Manager of the Pontiac Motor Division, General Motors Corporation.

Mrs. Roger M. Kyes, Bloomfield Hills, wife of the General Motors Vice President and former Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Harold E. LeFevre, Mt. Clemens, Macomb County Superintendent of Schools.

Howard L. McGregor, Jr., Rochester, President of the National Twist Drill and Tool Company.

Paul W. McKee, Editor of the Mt. Clemens Monitor-Leader.

Lynn S. Miller, Publisher of the Royal Oak Tribune.

Mrs. Ralph Norvell, Pontiac civil leader.

Raymond T. Perring, Bloomfield Hills, President of the Detroit Bank.

Harry M. Pryale, Bloomfield Hills, President of the Baldwin Rubber Company.

Thomas R. Reid, Dearborn, Director of Community Relations, Ford Motor Company.

Louis H. Schimmel, Pontiac, President of the Pontiac Board of Education.

Ernest W. Seaholm, Birmingham, retired Chief Engineer of Cadillac Division, General Motors Corporation.

*Dana P. Whitmer, Superintendent of Pontiac Schools, Secretary of the Oakland Foundation.

Walter K. Willman, Pontiac City Manager.

Mrs. Alfred G. Wilson.

*Theodore O. Yntema, Bloomfield Hills, Vice President of Fort Motor Company.

*James C. Zeder, Bloomfield Hills, Vice President of the Chrysler Corporation, Vice President of Oakland Foundation and Chairman of Program Development Committee

*Members of Program Development Committee





Created on 12/12/06 by 04/26/05 by Linda Hildebrand / Last updated on 8/25/13 by Linda Hildebrand
Oakland University

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