Members of campus’s most elite honor society are seeking the permission of the descendants of James B. Angell to name the group after the former University president.
James K. Angell – the great grandson of James B. Angell, who helped found Michigamua in 1902 – said last night that two members of the controversial society came to his Bethesda, Md. home on Wednesday night and asked his permission to call the group Order of Angell.
For more than a century before it dropped its name last year, it was called Michigamua – a name picked to mimic a mythical Native America tribe that has since become synonymous with controversy and racism for many.
Angell said the two men asked him to sign a document that said, in part, “I hereby give my blessing to the Pride of 2007 (interim name for the organization formerly known as Michigamua) to use Order of Angell as their organization’s name now and forever.”
Angell said he had no objection to the use of his great grandfather’s last name, but he has not signed the form because he wants to consult with his sister, who lives in Michigan.
Society member Andrew Yahkind, who often serves as an unofficial spokesman for the group, refused to deny or confirm that the group would call itself Order of Angell when reached last night.
When The Michigan Daily obtained a list of possible names for the group last week, Yahkind said the society would likely release the new name in about three weeks.
When the society announced a slate of reforms last spring, which included releasing the list of members of the current class to the public, it vowed to announce a new name late last semester.
The list of possibilities, which the society also refused to confirm, included the name Order of the Angell.
Other names that the group was reported to be considering include Blue Flame, Union of the M, the Order and the Ms.
Matt McLaughlin, the captain of the men’s golf team and a member of the society, condemned the Daily’s coverage of the group in a written statement last night.
“We find it unfortunate that the Daily continues to focus its attention on idle speculation regarding the internal decision-making process of our organization,” he wrote. “Although we’re flattered that a story must be told every step of the way, we are committed to releasing our new name and vision for campus involvement in the near future.”
James K. Angell, who graduated from the University in 1945, said he had hardly heard of the organization before the men approached him and asked him to release the name.
“I didn’t realize my great grandfather had any relation to this organization,” Angell said. “I’d never read that. I read the book about him but I don’t remember that being brought up.”
The younger Angell never met his great grandfather, who died in 1916 and served as president of the University from 1871 to 1909.
He is also the namesake of Angell Hall.
The society already uses the Angell family name for some of its secret members, who are called Honorary Angells.