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Posted on Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Presidential visits to University of Michigan date back to 1892

By Kellie Woodhouse

President Barack Obama’s speech on Friday prompted thousands of University of Michigan students to camp overnight for tickets and get up abnormally early on a Friday meeting to see him speak.

More than one student told that seeing a president in person is “a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

At U-M, though, presidential visits are not that unusual.

At least 13 presidents have visited the Ann Arbor campus, including U-M alumnus Gerald Ford.

Visitors include Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Harrison, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Although George W. Bush has visited Michigan State University, he’s never made it U-M. picked out a few photos of past visits:


Students surround John F. Kennedy's motorcade up State Street on Oct. 14, 1960.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library

When John F. Kennedy first visited U-M on Oct. 14, 1960, he was still a Massachusetts senator and less than three weeks from being elected the 35th U.S. president. Kennedy spoke from the steps of the Michigan Union and challenged students to use their skills in needy areas, including developing countries. The concept led to the founding of the U.S. Peace Corps shortly afterward. According to U-M, more than 5,000 students showed up to listen. You can listen to an excerpt of Kennedy’s speech here.


Gerald Ford visiting U-M football practice in 1977.

Courtesy of Bentley Historical Library

Gerald R. Ford —the namesake of U-M's public policy school— attended Michigan as an undergraduate and played center and linebacker for the school’s football team before graduating in 1935. In this photo, Ford is seen visiting Wolverine football players during practice in 1977, months after finishing his term as president. A gifted athlete, Ford turned down offers to play for the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, choosing instead to study at Yale Law School, where he also helped coach football.

Thumbnail image for Cleveland at png

Grover Cleveland arrives at the Ann Arbor train station before a luncheon at the University of Michigan.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library Levi D. Wines photograph collection.

According to U-M reports, some 2,000 students greeted Grover Cleveland when he arrived at the Ann Arbor train station on Feb. 22, 1892. He attended a luncheon at U-M that day. Cleveland was in-between his two White House terms during his visit.


Former President Bill Clinton, center, stands with Eastern Michigan University President William E. Shelton, left, and Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater, an Eastern Michigan alumnus, during a graduation commencement ceremony at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich., Sunday, April 30, 2000.

AP Photo

Bill Clinton spoke at Eastern Michigan University's spring 2000 commencement. Eight years later, in spring 2007, Clinton would give the commencement address at the University of Michigan. Clinton also spoke at Rackham Auditorium on Oct. 24, 2010, in an effort to help the reelection campaign of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 10:44 p.m.

The worst president in a century making promises he has not intention or ability to keep to a naive group of clueless lemmings. Our last qualified President, George W. Bush, had no reason to visit the Peoples Republic of Ann Arbor.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

Yes, Carter was a nightmare but obama is worse because the damage he is doing to the United States will be far more difficult for the adults to fix when they return to office. The democrat party is nothing like it was in the Kennedy era. They are really little more then an Anti American, Anti Success protest movement now. As such, they are unfit to lead and should NEVER be granted any power as the damage these haters are capable of is more than we can afford.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

"..Um, er... stop listening to Hannity and Limbaugh already!..." I rarely hear either (working taxpayer) but who are you listening to with that list of bumper sticker nonsense and embarrassing democrat talking points?! Stop listening to funnymen Jon Stewart, Al Frankin, Rosy O'donnell and your adoring democrat press! LOL Love the Bush Lied nonsense - one of the greatest hoaxes ever carried out by democrat operatives and their stooges the failing liberal press. Clearly you don't know the history of what lead to the Iraq war, the coalition assembled or the votes by democrats in both houses!! LOL ....but that's okay, you seem to have suffered an education at UM so you are hardly responsible for your own opinions. ...and to prove it, I wonder how well you can recite a list of obama's massive failures over the last 4 years?? LOL When was the last press conference he gave where he responded to unscripted questions? "Terrible!" ...but on the positive side, he appears to eat and balanced diet and can read a teleprompter well.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.

Um, er... stop listening to Hannity and Limbaugh already!. President George W. Bush was not without major faults. Off the top of my head... remember Katrina and how he didn't want it to ruin his summer holiday? He foolishly lied to the American people about "weapons of mass production" in Iraq and had no post-war plan for his "mission accomplished" there. Thousands of young men and women have died in Iraq because of his foolery. His team failed to caputure BinLaden (guess who did it for us?). Bush was all about granting large tax cuts to the wealthy (go figure). He limited stem cell research. Not to mention that he was a terrible public speaker (terrible!). I do give Bush credit for being a nice guy though. I think his intentions were good. I think most Presidents intentions are good. They deserve our respect - and they deserve our careful watch and criticism of their policies. So careful before you call someone a "worst" president unless you can back it up with facts.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 2:58 a.m.

Worst president in a century? You must be too young to remember Carter.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

Bill Clinton also stopped in Ann Arbor after participating in a debate held at Michigan State w/ George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot in 1992. He spoke briefly on the steps of the Rackham Building. This was shortly before the general election.


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

I saw Bill and Hillary Clinton on the steps of Angell Hall on South State Street in late Summer/ early Fall 1992. They were in town on a campaign stop before actually being elected as "President and First Lady Clinton." Perhaps the preliminary nature of this visit is why it is not meantioned in the article?


Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.

Actually, Clinton was still in office in April 2000 (for the EMU Commencement). He didn't leave office until January 2001.

Ron Granger

Sat, Jan 28, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Why didn't Bush Jr. visit Ann Arbor? He certainly found plenty of time to visit his ranch and hold hands with Arab leaders. Remember when Granholm repeatedly tried to get a meeting with Bush to discuss the plight of Michigan's auto manufacturing industry? She went to DC three times and was snubbed each time. And years later, they two of the three needed a bailout. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! We are fortunate that the current President visits our town, and talks about something other than war.


Sun, Jan 29, 2012 : 2:15 a.m.

She's really had a rough time with Presidents. Couldn't get named to three or four jobs in the Obama administration. One might think the problem could be...