U-M Year in Review
The year 2021 started much as 2020 had ended, with U-M students mainly scattered around the country, rather than on campus, due to ongoing pandemic restrictions. (Occupancy in residence halls, for example, fell from 6,400 to 1,200.)
Fortunately, the University offered a more “normal,” mostly in-person academic term this fall. The year comes to a close with students back on campus while still observing COVID-19 protocols. Following are a few other highlights of 2021.
Technically starting in 2020, a vaccination clinic opens in Michigan Stadium. Michigan Medicine began vaccinating health care workers earlier in the month but quickly realized more space was needed for safe social distancing.
Jan. 23The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services asks Athletics to pause all activities and close facilities until further notice due to confirmed cases of COVID-19. Four days later, the Washtenaw County Health Department recommends that all currently enrolled U-M students living on or near the Ann Arbor campus stay in place through Feb. 7.
March 12U-M President Mark Schlissel announces plans for the fall semester, in line with state and local public health safety measures at the time. The plan includes requirements that students who live on the Ann Arbor campus be vaccinated.
April 15A new residency with international performing artist Yo-Yo Ma kicks off. Launched by the U-M Arts Initiative in partnership with the University Musical Society, the project is titled Mapping Without Boundaries and reflects on the challenges of the pandemic.
April 17The U-M women’s gymnastics team captures its first-ever NCAA championship. With the win, U-M becomes just the seventh team ever to capture the title and boasts the third-best score in championship history.
May 1Around 4,000 students experience a virtual Spring Commencement in person at Michigan Stadium. The class of 2021 had the choice of watching a video—featuring remarks by students, University leaders, and speakers—at home with family and friends or in the Big House with fellow graduates.
A report by the law firm WilmerHale states that former U-M physician Robert E. Anderson, who worked at U-M from 1966 to 2003 and died in 2008, engaged in a “pervasive, decades-long, destructive pattern of sexual misconduct” involving hundreds of U-M students. The report said University officials knew about the misconduct as early as 1978, yet it continued for decades.
The U-M board of regents votes to extend the Go Blue Guarantee—its promise of four years of free tuition for qualifying Michigan residents—to the Dearborn and Flint campuses. Recipients must have a family income of $65,000 or less and assets less than $50,000.
U-M’s hockey program boasts four of the first five picks in the first round of the NHL draft. Owen Power (pictured) was selected first overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
July 23–Aug. 8Eight U-M athletes bring home 11 Olympic medals from Tokyo—three gold, five silver, and three bronze—in five sports. In all, 30 athletes with U-M ties competed in the games. In addition, first-year medical student Sam Grewe claimed the Paralympics men’s high jump T63 classification title for Team USA on Aug. 31.
July 30The University announces that all students, faculty, and staff on all three campuses are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and submit their vaccination information before the start of the fall term.
Aug. 11The University again requires the use of face coverings inside campus buildings and transit, regardless of vaccination status. Earlier in the summer, the requirement was lifted for those who had been fully vaccinated and self-reported their vaccination information. However, increasing case transmission due to the delta variant led to the reinstitution of the mask requirement.
Aug. 30On the first day of classes, U-M students return to classrooms for the first time since March 2020.
Sept. 9The University recognizes President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman by naming the building that houses the Life Sciences Institute after her. Coleman was the University’s first female president; the building is the first academic building on the Ann Arbor campus to be named for a woman.
Oct. 1The University’s final policy and procedures for addressing sexual and gender-based misconduct become effective. They apply to all members of the University community on all three campuses and Michigan Medicine.
Oct. 5U-M President Mark Schlissel announces that he will step down from his position in June 2023, one year earlier than previously planned. In a letter to the U-M community, Schlissel stated he had discussed the decision with the U-M board of regents and decided that the timing was right. Schlissel, the University’s 14th president, assumed the position in 2014.
Oct. 21The University announces fall 2021 enrollment of more than 50,000 students on the Ann Arbor campus, which has set a record. Students come from all 50 states, five U.S. territories, and 70 countries on six continents.
Oct. 23The Wolverines take home the inaugural George Jewett Trophy with a 33-7 win over Northwestern. It is the first rivalry game trophy named for an African American player in Football Bowl Subdivision history. The trophy honors Jewett, who played for U-M during the 1890 and 1892 seasons. In 1883, Jewett left U-M for Northwestern to finish his medical degree.
The University announces that Ruth Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M University and president emerita of Brown University and Smith College, is the main speaker at the 2021 Winter Commencement on Dec. 19. Others recommended for honorary degrees are E Hill De Loney, an expert in community-based participatory research; Cleve Moler, a mathematical software pioneer; and Kathy Anne Perkins, a theater scholar and lighting designer.
The University announces that a large and sudden increase in cases of influenza among students on the Ann Arbor campus is the focus of federal health experts seeking to learn more about how the flu is spreading and vaccine effectiveness as the nation heads into the flu season.
U-M defeats Ohio State, 42-27—the Wolverines’ first win over their archrival since 2011. The win gave the team a share of the Big Ten Conference East Division title and its first berth in the Big Ten Championship Game.