It was a rollicking affair at the University of Michigan graduation ceremony the other day in Ann Arbor. Gathered in the football stadium, perhaps 4,300 of the school's 5,700 graduates-to-be—the other 1,400 apparently having business appointments—were determined to party. Champagne corks popped like rifle shots and then arched into the perfect blue sky. Some of the revelers wore Mickey Mouse ears, others propellers on their mortarboards. One sported a Baltimore Oriole baseball cap.
When university president Harold Shapiro told the good-timing throng, "This is the first and probably last time you'll sit on the 50-yard line," everyone booed. And when Walter Cronkite, who gave the commencement address, said he understood that venturing out into the world might create a feeling for the new grads "bordering on panic," they laughed. Mostly, though, they popped champagne corks and acted crazy. Looking terribly ill at ease amid the chaos was one Stefan Humphries, a varsity football player and an engineering major, with an interdisciplinary concentration in biology. Once he self-consciously took a sip (a very small sip) of champagne. Once he raised an arm tentatively in celebration. Mostly he looked as if he wished he were elsewhere. "Graduation is supposed to be somber and conservative," Humphries said later. "I don't think you yell until you leave. I never yell about anything until it's all over with."
Yet if any of these students had reason to go bonkers, it was Humphries. "He is the true image of the scholar-athlete," says James J. Duderstadt, dean of the College of Engineering. Indeed, in an age when too many football players never get it straight that attending class is thought by some to be a part of the college experience, Humphries is a beacon. Four years ago, we celebrated him as the ideal mix of great student, great athlete and great person from a great family (SI, May 26, 1980, The Can't Miss Kid) as he emerged from St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale. That appraisal was, if anything, not extravagant enough. Says Michigan athletic director Don Canham, "He's such a remarkable kid. He's lived up to and beyond his billing."
All Humphries did at Michigan, one of the premier universities—public or private—in the nation, was march through a course schedule that appears to have been designed by a sadist. It included such guts as engineering thermodynamics and electro biophysics. With a 3.67 grade-point, he was named Outstanding Student in the engineering school. "Very humbling," says Humphries. "I've encountered some very bright people." In one remarkable streak of academic prowess, stretching from the spring of 1981 through the summer of '82, he took 15 courses for 45 hours of credit. Result: eight A pluses, six A's, one B plus. Indeed, during one blitz, Humphries received nothing but A's and A pluses for three semesters. Finally, when he stumbled to a B in network analysis, a course having nothing whatsoever to do with ABC or CBS, football coach Bo Schembechler called Humphries in and said, "Congratulations on being human." Humphries didn't smile.
Another time, Schembechler summoned Humphries and said, "Aren't you doing too much studying?"
"No," said Humphries.
"Are you enjoying Michigan?"
"And you're getting out some?"