University of Michigan Alumni Association

Alumnae Council History

The Alumnae Council was established in 1917 to promote the interest of women in the University of Michigan community. Throughout its rich history, the Alumnae Council has provided support and encouragement to the women of the University through a myriad of innovative projects and programs. Much of what the Council set into motion continues to this day. Here is a brief overview.

  • Among its first and finest undertakings, the Alumnae Council led the campaign that raised the funds for the construction of a center to serve the social and cultural activities of all Michigan students: the Michigan League Building on the University of Michigan campus at Ann Arbor.
  • Early on, the Alumnae Council endeavored to establish scholarships to provide financial assistance for self-supporting women students, a program that has grown to $2.5M in endowments honoring 30 alumnae and staff of the University of Michigan. Scholarships remain a focal point of the Council today. Income from these endowed funds has provided over three million dollars in scholarships for several thousand undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Wanting to provide affordable housing for women attending the University, in 1945 the Alumnae Council established Henderson House (co-op housing for women). The residence can accommodate up to 25 women students and remains a vibrant community today. 
  • The Council spearheaded the drive to launch a program that would enable women and non-traditional students to complete a degree. This effort produced the U-M Center for the Education of Women (CEW), established in 1964. The CEW advances diversity and inclusion at the University and serves as a resource, voice, and an empowerment tool for those women who might have had to take a pause in their education to receive the kind of help that will enable them to complete their schooling.
  • An enthusiastic support for  M women athletes' march into intercollegiate competition led the Council to establish  The Marie Hartwig Scholarship, an endowed scholarship for varsity women athletes.
  • The Council created the Alumnae Athena Award to honor nationally and internationally acclaimed women of the University for their scholarly and humanitarian contributions (Athena Award Recipients). It also instituted the Alumna-in-Residence program that brought distinguished women professionals to the campus to meet with and teach current students. Both of these awards were retired, having inspired similar programs on campus. The balances in these accounts were used to endow a new Alumnae Council Centennial Scholarship Fund.
  • The Council envisioned and sponsored the Academic Administrative Internship program to provide opportunities for women to gain administrative experience through interning with various Vice Presidents of the University.
  • The Council facilitated the building of the Education Center at Camp Michigania, the Alumni Association's Family Camp on Walloon Lake in Northern Michigan, with funds raised through the Council's Birthday Greeting Campaign.

(thanks to Edith Bletcher for the above content)