Historical Overview

The Early Years, 1917 to 1925

  • Levi Barbour travels to Asia and meets Mary Stone, Ida Kahn, and Tomo Inouye, UM alumnae and physicians who inspire the Barbour Scholarship
  • Barbour establishes the Barbour Scholarship in 1917 and secures its financial stability with two gifts of $50,000—totaling approximately $2 million in 2017 dollars—and a bequest of real estate.
  • The first fifty-seven Barbour Scholars come to Ann Arbor, most from China, India, and Japan. They comprise the majority of international students at UM. Read More

Growth and Development, 1926 to 1941

  • The Barbour Scholarship committee began giving preference to applicants who had graduated from a college in Asia and were seeking a graduate degree at U-M.
  • In June of 1928, Yi-fang Wu and Maria Lanzar became the first two Barbour Scholars to receive Ph.D.s, Yi-fang in Biology and Maria in Political Science.
  • Despite the impact of the Great Depression, the number of students increased significantly in the 1930s. Read More

WWII and the Program, 1942 to 1945

  • In the U.S. and abroad, Barbour Scholar alumnae played significant roles in humanitarian efforts.
  • Global turmoil made it difficult or impossible to bring scholars from some areas.
  • Carl Rufus reiterated the importance of maintaining the scholarship’s mission through global turmoil: “Our Barbour Scholars on the other side of the oceans will be well qualified after this terrible experience to assist in postwar reconstruction and in building a better world.” Read More

Post WWII, 1946 to 1969

  • Barbour Scholars began coming from Vietnam, Burma, Malaysia, and Indonesia, along with the newly formed political entities of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • The Barbour Scholarship Committee officially classified the Barbour awards as graduate scholarships in 1948.
  • By 1957, the International Institute of Education recognized the Barbour Scholars Program’s impact with a special citation accepted by President Hatcher. Read More

Modern Barbours, 1970 to Present

  • The program shifted from a renewable recruitment scholarship to a one-term fellowship providing needed financial support to graduate students already at the University.
  • Since Scholarship administration began tracking Scholars’ areas of academic focus in 1970, scholars have pursued 86 different degree programs. Read More

“Though you are not on this campus now, you are still a vital part of this great dream of all universities in all times and places: the creation by mind and spirit of ONE WORLD.”

Frank Huntley

Frank Huntley to Barbour alumnae1947 newsletter

Ida Kahn portrait
Dr. Ida Kahn, an early graduate of the University of Michigan.
Barbour Scholars 1942-1943
Barbour Scholars 1942-1943
vintage Barbour Scholars photo in 50/60s