James Robertson (March 6, 1915 - March 19, 2010) served as the first director of the University of Michigan Residential College from 1967 to 1973.


The Bentley houses the James H. Robertson Papers. University of Michigan professor and administrator, director of the university's residential college, 1967-1973. Correspondence, 1956-1973, with students and colleagues; speech notes and various other writings; and photographs.


Age 95, died peacefully Friday, March 19, 2010, at the Grace Ridge Retirement Community in Morgan-ton, NC. Born in New York on March 6, 1915, James attended public schools in Brooklyn and Queens, winning two medals in the fifty yard dash and one for a fire prevention essay. While in school, he worked afternoons and Saturdays for a fruit and produce merchant. After graduating from high school in 1931, he worked in the filing department of a Wall Street law firm.

In the evenings he attended New York University. He graduated in 1937 with a degree in accounting, and with additional coursework in the humanities sufficient to qualify for acceptance into the English Literature graduate program at the University of Michigan, where he earned his Master of Arts degree in 1938 and, after the war, his Ph.D. in 1950.

In 1941 James married the only love of his life, Jean Belknap of Port Clinton, OH. Three months later he was drafted into the Army as a private, presumably for one year's service. Pearl Harbor changed everything. James was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in 1942, and went on to serve in England, France, and Germany, ultimately as a Major in General Omar Bradley's Manpower and Personnel Office.

After helping America win World War II, James and Jean settled down in Ann Arbor where he spent the rest of his professional life serving the University of Michigan, working as Teaching Fellow in English, Assistant Dean, Professor of English, and as the first Director of the Residential College. He retired in 1983. James loved teaching, reading, writing, travel, the University of Michigan, and his family.

He wrote and published numerous articles about undergraduate education, two volumes of personal memoirs, and dozens of travelogues entitled "Travels with Jean." James is survived by two sons, Jamie of Madison, WI and his wife Lynne, and Jack, of Charlottesville, VA and his wife Diane Dale, and by a daughter, Betsy Rasmussen of Morganton and her husband Paul. Grandchildren include Kate Robertson van Susante, Andrew Robertson, Olivia Robertson, and Erik Rasmussen. Survivors also include great-granddaughter Nora Rasmussen Matamoros, and cousins, nephews, and nieces scattered around the United States. He was preceded in death by his parents, sister Betty Clarke and his lovely wife Jean. Jim and Jean were active members of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Ann Arbor.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either St. Andrews Episcopal Church or the Residential College at the University of Michigan. A memorial service will be held in Ann Arbor later in the spring.

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