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December 1, 2013 - 8:34pm

This Week in History: University Hospital completes second heart transplant in state history


Forty- five years ago this week (Dec. 3, 1968):

Doctors at the University Hospital completed the second heart transplant in the history of the state of Michigan.

A 15-man team operated on patient Donald Kaminski, a 38-year-old at the time dying of cardiomyopathy, a degenerative disease that would have eventually led to his death.

The operation began just three minutes after the death of donor Robert Pushman, a senior at Central Michigan University who died of injuries from a car accident.

Thirty-five years ago this week (Dec. 2, 1978):

Former University student Bob Higgins sued the University’s Board of Regents for $885,000 after he received a D in his German class instead of the A he felt he deserved.

Higgins said he was not able to attend the class until the final two weeks of the semester due to “personal emergency” reasons but still completed and turned in all the necessary course work. Higgins said then-Assistant Prof. Irma Sklenar refused to grade his work because she didn’t agree with its content, and Higgins requested a grade of D so he would still be eligible for graduation.

“The professors use grades as a club,” Higgins said “Since they (the faculty members in the German department) couldn’t believe that I, a black student, was doing superior work in the course, they resented it and gave me a poor grade.”

This was the third suit initiated by Higgins against the University.

Higgins claimed he graduated and received his diploma in 1976, but the Office of the Registrar had no record of it. At the time of the suit, he ran his own foreign investment consulting firm.

“I irked them (the University officials) because I wasn’t going to kiss their ass,” Higgins said.

Twenty-five years ago this week (Dec. 2, 1988):

A vote from the LSA curriculum committee passed a proposal to require students to take a course related to combating racism starting in the fall of 1989.

The original push from the United Coalition Against Racism was to institute one specific class on racism, but the passed proposal allowed students to choose from several classes that would meet the requirement.

Then-Assistant Prof. Elizabeth Anderson, who is now a senior faculty member in the Philosophy Department, said the new class requirement could also help increase the diversity of the faculty.

“We want to use this graduation requirement to make the University aggressively recruit faculty to teach these courses, most of which will be minority faculty,” Anderson said.