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Media Union's new name: 'The Dude'

University of Michigan renames building in honor of former president and his wife

Ann Arbor News
March 20, 2004

It's official. The Media Union on the University of Michigan's North Campus can now be called "The Dude."

Student-generated signs welcoming attendees to Friday afternoon's naming ceremony for the Jim and Anne Duderstadt Center proclaimed the new nickname for the building that has become a focal point of student life on North Campus.

Duderstadt, who served as U-M president from 1988-96, aggressively presided over a period of rapid growth in construction and technology at the university.

Part of that expansion was his pet project, the Media Union, which was dedicated in 1996 and remains a visually spectacular spot for students to work at any hour on projects using digital and other advanced technology.

It's open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with 500 students using union resources at peak night hours and usually never less than 100.

Andrew Klesh, a U-M undergraduate with a double major in engineering, said the center is dedicated to the alliance between dreams and the means to fulfill them. "To an engineering student, it's a home away from home," he told the crowd of more than 100.

U-M President Mary Sue Coleman noted the intellectual partnership between the Duderstadts: Jim, who was always looking forward, and his wife, Anne, who has embraced tradition and recently self-published a 150-year history of U-M's College of Engineering.

"Jim ... propelled (U-M) forward during a time when transformation was essential," Coleman said in her remarks.

Duderstadt, who is in his 35th year at U-M, now teaches various courses at the university and serves on numerous national commissions regarding the future of higher education.

He said the Duderstadt Center represents the future, and praised U-M's ability "to take risks and launch experiments."

Harold Shapiro, who preceded Duderstadt as president before going on to Princeton, attended the ceremony, as did former regents, administrators and deans who worked with Duderstadt.

U-M has now named a building for all of its former presidents except Lee Bollinger, who left the university in 2002 to become president at Columbia University.

Anne Duderstadt said her husband began envisioning plans for the Media Union when has was dean of the College of Engineering, in the early 1980s.

"He talked about it for years and years," she said. "When he starts harping on something he doesn't let go until it's done."