University of Michigan–where’s the recession?

I am in Ann Arbor for some meetings. It was gorgeous weather yesterday and the general well-being of both town and gown left me wondering where the Great Recession was. Now here’s the interesting piece of data: when I was going to graduate school here in during the heart of the 1980’s recession, I was completely unaware of what was going on with the rest of the national economy. This may be because I was too busy in the lab developing autoradiograms. But part of it, I suspect, was that Ann Arbor is in fact, strangely an island. On the way in from the airport, there were in fact many billboards offering help from foreclosure and the like. But the devastation seemed to stop at the city-line. Downtown having dinner at the West End Grill last evening, the streets seemed busy, shoppers seemed to be buying, the restaurant (in my opinion one of Ann Arbor’s best) was full.

So how does Ann Arbor manage this? Why does the U (as the University is often called here) appear to be in such rude health?

Final caution: I’m not so sanguine about the football team.