When classes began in 1841, Mason Hall (left) housed classrooms, a chapel, a library, a museum, and dormitory rooms. Two professors taught thirteen students Greek, Latin, mathematics, and rhetoric. South College (right), a second classroom-dormitory block, was added in 1849.
Henry P. Tappan, UM's first president (1852-1863), envisioned a great university that would make Ann Arbor "a new Athens." An early advocate of scientific research and the practical use of knowledge, he added an observatory, a chemical laboratory, and a law building. Affirming UM's nonsectarian nature, he recruited intellectually distinguished young men to join the existing faculty of Protestant clergymen. He ridiculed providing "vast dormitories for the night's sleep, instead of creating libraries and laboratories for the day's work." After 1858 students lived in rooming houses. Briefly, after the Civil War, UM was the nation's largest university with 32 professors and more than 1,200 students, over half in medicine and law.
Tappan's vision was advanced by James B. Angell, who added over 30 buildings during his presidency (1871-1909). Latin and Greek were no longer required, seminar teaching was introduced, and laboratories and clinical teaching expanded. Colleges, schools, and departments evolved: Dentistry and Homeopathic Medicine 1875, Pharmacy 1876, Engineering 1895, and Forestry 1903. Angell staunchly supported coeducation. Foreign student enrollment rose, especially from China, after Angell's two years there as U.S. minister.