Michele Siegal, the Director of Development and Alumni Relations at the Rackham Graduate School of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (where I graduated with my MS in physics) is in Tokyo for a short visit. We met yesterday for lunch at Sizzler’s by the Tokyo Dome and had a great conversation.
It brought back a lot of great memories. I haven’t been back to Ann Arbor in 40 years. Some things are still the same, but naturally quite a lot has changed. As you can see below, the State Theatre is still there! That’s where I first saw “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” But sadly Drakes, which had great ice cream sodas and incredibly delicious chocolate cordials is gone. Alas. But I’m eating healthy whole food plant based now anyway. Still, great memories.
My physics grad student office was on the 7th floor of Dennison Building, across from Randall Lab. They renamed Dennison (!) to Weiser Hall in 2014 and are doing updates. The name Dennison apparently still exists in the building somewhere. I wonder what became of the concrete pond and waterfall we built for our crocodile in our student office.
Randall Lab is still there, but it has been updated from its classic look.
I lived on Washtenaw Avenue close by Dennison. Michele was telling me how there are a lot of pricey condos in that area now. I took a glance at Google Maps and I think the apartment building I lived in is still there.
Anyway, lots of interesting memories of things like the Art Fair, the Arboretum, the Diag (anybody remember Dr. Diag?), things that have changed and things that are still the same.
Most interestingly, Michele talked about great investments in projects to secure education funding for people in diverse academic fields. I was in physics and had my tuition covered from the University and also got a stipend as a TA and RA. In science and engineering that was common. Not so much for people in fields like the arts, or social sciences. But colleges are expensive these days. They are trying to make it more affordable via internship and other grant programs that Michele was talking about. It all sounded very exciting.
Also, Michele discussed programs to provide academic and mental well-being support for students. People often need a place to turn to if they feel overwhelmed by their studies and things going on. I know I did. This was all very encouraging to hear about.
After graduating, I moved on from Ann Arbor, first to the University of Wisconsin, Madison and then to the department of Applied Physics at the University of California, Davis/Livermore. In fact, I had a visit from an alumni representative from Davis recently! It was at Livermore that my professor got me a position on the Fujitsu Pavilion 3D graphics IMAX project for the Expo ’85 World’s Fair in Tsukuba, and why I ended up coming to Japan in 1983.
So lots of interesting memories, and great to hear what’s going on in Ann Arbor now. Thanks, Michele! I hope we meet again sometime.