UM-Flint Through the Years: A History in Images

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Students in graduation apparel standing next to a Flint College sign

UM-Flint wasn't always the riverfront campus we know and love today. Let's take a trip down memory lane, and learn about the history of campus along the way!

The idea for a four-year Flint College was spearheaded by Charles Stewart Mott (pictured below), along with other community leaders.

A photo of Charles Stewart Mott in a suit and tie.

Mott's Farm, Applewood, served as the location for the junior college, now Mott Community College, and the Flint branch of the University of Michigan.

An aerial view of the location of Flint College at the time.

Flint Junior College (Mott Community College) was originally the only college in the area and served as a two-year institution. Committees formed and eventually, the State of Michigan granted a two-year senior program at Flint to complement the junior college, thus establishing the school.

The legislative bill creating the Flint College.

Pictured below is an early vision of the Flint College and Cultural Center. Notice that the Cultural Center is still focused around Kearsley, Crapo, and Court Streets today.

An illustration of the future Flint college overhead.

Here's a name that might sound familiar! David M. French, pictured below, was appointed Dean of Flint College starting March 15, 1956. Before being named after Dean French, French Hall was called the CROB – the Classroom and Office Building.

David M French sitting at a desk.

In 1956 and 1957, it became clear that this college needed an academic building of its own, and so the Mott Memorial Building broke ground.

The Mott building under construction.

An informational brochure from 1956/57 stated that the Flint College was an upper-division program, meaning that students coming to the college should have two years of their education already completed. This brochure also said that the semester fee for Michigan residents was $100. Fields of concentration included biological studies, English, education, and social sciences.

The need for a library came next, and in 1962 the Mott Memorial Library opened. The library was then housed on the fifth floor of the Classroom and Office Building (French Hall) until the Frances Willson Thompson Library opened in 1994. 

Mott Memorial Library

In 1965, the Mott Memorial Building was expanded, with $2.4 million donated by Charles Mott.

Mott Memorial Buildiing Expansion

The first student housing site was opened in 1967. Flint College leased Longway Apartments, which housed 50 students.

Exterior of Longway Apartments.

As enrollment grew, committees were formed to support the expansion of the college into a four-year institution, and with that expansion came more buildings. The University purchased 17 ½ acres on Lapeer Road in September 1970 to accommodate this growth. In the meantime, to combat office space shortage, trailers were brought in to house faculty and staff.

Image showing the trailers that housed faculty and staff offices.

In 1969, it was recommended by the Study Committee for the Flint Campus of the University of Michigan that the "University of Michigan at Flint" be created. This is the basis of the riverfront campus.

This is a view of the downtown Flint riverfront site in July 1974. It looks much different from the campus we know today!

An aerial shot of UM-Flint's current riverfront location

The CROB breaks ground in May 1974, bringing the campus of the 70's closer to the campus we can picture now. Pictured is Charles Mott's son, Harding Mott.

Harding Mott speaking at a podium.

Special thanks to Colleen Marquis with the Genesee Historical Collection Center. All photos courtesy of the Genesee Historical Collection Center Digital Collections, The Beginnings of the University of Michigan Flint.

Eleni Batsios is a Marketing & Media Assistant with the Office of Marketing & Digital Strategies. She is a Communication major.