Founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and wealthiest man in history John D. Rockefeller, the University of Chicago was incorporated in 1890; William Rainey Harper became the university's first president in 1891, and the first classes were held in 1892. Both Harper and future president Robert Maynard Hutchins advocated for Chicago's curriculum to be based upon theoretical and perennial issues rather than on applied sciences and commercial utility. With Harper's vision in mind, the University of Chicago also became one of the 14 founding members of the Association of American Universities, an international organization of leading research universities, in 1900.
Organized as an independent institution legally, it replaced the first Baptist university of the same name, which had closed in 1886 due to extended financial and leadership problems.William Rainey Harper became the modern university's first president on July 1, 1891, and the university opened for classes on October 1, 1892.
In the 1890s, the University of Chicago, fearful that its vast resources would injure smaller schools by drawing away good students, affiliated with several regional colleges and universities: Des Moines College, Kalamazoo College, Butler University, and Stetson University. In 1896, the university affiliated with Shimer College in Mount Carroll, Illinois. Under the terms of the affiliation, the schools were required to have courses of study comparable to those at the university, to notify the university early of any contemplated faculty appointments or dismissals, to make no faculty appointment without the university's approval, and to send copies of examinations for suggestions. The University of Chicago agreed to confer a degree on any graduating senior from an affiliated school who made a grade of A for all four years, and on any other graduate who took twelve weeks additional study at the University of Chicago. A student or faculty member of an affiliated school was entitled to free tuition at the University of Chicago, and Chicago students were eligible to attend an affiliated school on the same terms and receive credit for their work. The University of Chicago also agreed to provide affiliated schools with books and scientific apparatus and supplies at cost; special instructors and lecturers without cost except travel expenses; and a copy of every book and journal published by the University of Chicago Press at no cost. The agreement provided that either party could terminate the affiliation on proper notice. Several University of Chicago professors disliked the program, as it involved uncompensated additional labor on their part, and they believed it cheapened the academic reputation of the university. The program passed into history by 1910.
In 1929, the university's fifth president, Robert Maynard Hutchins, took office; the university underwent many changes during his 24-year tenure. Hutchins eliminated varsity football from the university in an attempt to emphasize academics over athletics, instituted the undergraduate college's liberal-arts curriculum known as the Common Core, and organized the university's graduate work into its current[when?] four divisions. In 1933, Hutchins proposed an unsuccessful plan to merge the University of Chicago and Northwestern University into a single university. During his term, the University of Chicago Hospitals (now called the University of Chicago Medical Center) finished construction and enrolled its first medical students. Also, the Committee on Social Thought, an institution distinctive of the university, was created.
Some of the University of Chicago team that worked on the production of the world's first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction, including Enrico Fermi in the front row and Leó Szilárd in the second.
In the early 1950s, student applications declined as a result of increasing crime and poverty in the Hyde Park neighborhood. In response, the university became a major sponsor of a controversial urban renewal project for Hyde Park, which profoundly affected both the neighborhood's architecture and street plan. During this period the university, like Shimer College and 10 others, adopted an early entrant program that allowed very young students to attend college; in addition, students enrolled at Shimer were enabled to transfer automatically to the University of Chicago after their second year, having taken comparable or identical examinations and courses.
The university experienced its share of student unrest during the 1960s, beginning in 1962, when students occupied President George Beadle's office in a protest over the university's off-campus rental policies. After continued turmoil, a university committee in 1967 issued what became known as the Kalven Report. The report, a two-page statement of the university's policy in "social and political action," declared that "To perform its mission in the society, a university must sustain an extraordinary environment of freedom of inquiry and maintain an independence from political fashions, passions, and pressures." The report has since been used to justify decisions such as the university's refusal to divest from South Africa in the 1980s and Darfur in the late 2000s.
In 1969, more than 400 students, angry about the dismissal of a popular professor, Marlene Dixon, occupied the Administration Building for two weeks. After the sit-in ended, when Dixon turned down a one-year reappointment, 42 students were expelled and 81 were suspended, the most severe response to student occupations of any American university during the student movement.
In 1999, then-President Hugo Sonnenschein announced plans to relax the university's famed core curriculum, reducing the number of required courses from 21 to 15. When The New York Times, The Economist, and other major news outlets picked up this story, the university became the focal point of a national debate on education. The changes were ultimately implemented, but the controversy played a role in Sonnenschein's decision to resign in 2000.
From the mid-2000s, the university began a number of multimillion-dollar expansion projects. In 2008, the University of Chicago announced plans to establish the Milton Friedman Institute which attracted both support and controversy from faculty members and students. The institute will cost around $200 million and occupy the buildings of the Chicago Theological Seminary. During the same year, investor David G. Booth donated $300 million to the university's Booth School of Business, which is the largest gift in the university's history and the largest gift ever to any business school. In 2009, planning or construction on several new buildings, half of which cost $100 million or more, was underway. Since 2011, major construction projects have included the Jules and Gwen Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, a ten-story medical research center, and further additions to the medical campus of the University of Chicago Medical Center. In 2014 the University launched the public phase of a $4.5 billion fundraising campaign. In September 2015, the University received $100 million from The Pearson Family Foundation to establish The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts and The Pearson Global Forum at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies.
Many older buildings of the University of Chicago employ Collegiate Gothic architecture like that of the University of Oxford. For example, Chicago's Mitchell Tower (left) was modeled after Oxford's Magdalen Tower (right).
The University of Chicago also maintains facilities apart from its main campus. The university's Booth School of Business maintains campuses in Singapore, London, and the downtown Streeterville neighborhood of Chicago. The Center in Paris, a campus located on the left bank of the Seine in Paris, hosts various undergraduate and graduate study programs. In fall 2010, the University of Chicago also opened a center in Beijing, near Renmin University's campus in Haidian District. The most recent additions are a center in New Delhi, India, which opened in 2014, and a center in Hong Kong which opened in 2015.
The University of Chicago is governed by a board of trustees. The Board of Trustees oversees the long-term development and plans of the university and manages fundraising efforts, and is composed of 50 members including the university President. Directly beneath the President are the Provost, fourteen Vice Presidents (including the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Investment Officer, and Dean of Students of the university), the Directors of Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab, the Secretary of the university, and the Student Ombudsperson. As of August 2009[update], the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Andrew Alper, and the President of the university is Robert Zimmer. In December 2013 it was announced that the Director of Argonne National Laboratory, Eric Isaacs, would become Provost.
The university's endowment was the 12th largest among American educational institutions and state university systems in 2013 and as of 2012[update] was valued at $6.571 billion. Part of President Zimmer's financial plan for the university has been an increase in accumulation of debt to finance large building projects. This has drawn support and criticism from many in the university community.
The university runs on a quarter system in which the academic year is divided into four terms: Summer (June–August), Autumn (September–December), Winter (January–March), and Spring (April–June). Full-time undergraduate students take three to four courses every quarter for approximately eleven weeks before their quarterly academic breaks. The school year typically begins in late September and ends in mid-June.
Harper Memorial Library was dedicated in 1912 and takes inspiration from various colleges in England
The College of the University of Chicago grants Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 50 academic majors and 28 minors. The college's academics are divided into five divisions: the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division, the Physical Sciences Collegiate Division, the Social Sciences Collegiate Division, the Humanities Collegiate Division, and the New Collegiate Division. The first four are sections within their corresponding graduate divisions, while the New Collegiate Division administers interdisciplinary majors and studies which do not fit in one of the other four divisions.
Undergraduate students are required to take a distribution of courses to satisfy the university's core curriculum known as the Common Core. In 2012-2013, the Core classes at Chicago were limited to 17 students, and are generally led by a full-time professor (as opposed to a teaching assistant). As of the 2013–2014 school year, 15 courses and demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language are required under the Core. Undergraduate courses at the University of Chicago are known for their demanding standards, heavy workload and academic difficulty; according to Uni in the USA, "Among the academic cream of American universities – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, and the University of Chicago – it is UChicago that can most convincingly claim to provide the most rigorous, intense learning experience."
Eckhart Hall houses the university's math and statistics departments.
The university graduate schools and committees are divided into four divisions: Biological Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences. In the autumn quarter of 2014, the university enrolled 3,468 graduate students: 461 in the Biological Sciences Division, 819 in the Humanities Division, 1,024 in the Physical Sciences Division, and 1,164 in the Social Sciences Division.
The University of Chicago Lab Schools, a private day school run by the university
The university runs a number of academic institutions and programs apart from its undergraduate and postgraduate schools. It operates the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools (a private day school for K-12 students and day care), the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School (a residential treatment program for those with behavioral and emotional problems), and four public charter schools on the South Side of Chicago administered by the university's Urban Education Institute. In addition, the Hyde Park Day School, a school for students with learning disabilities, maintains a location on the University of Chicago campus. Since 1983, the University of Chicago has maintained the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project, a mathematics program used in urban primary and secondary schools. The university runs a program called the Council on Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences and Humanities, which administers interdisciplinary workshops to provide a forum for graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars to present scholarly work in progress. The university also operates the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States.
The University of Chicago Library system encompasses six libraries that contain a total of 9.8 million volumes, the 11th most among library systems in the United States. The university's main library is the Regenstein Library, which contains one of the largest collections of print volumes in the United States. The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, built in 2011, houses a large study space and an automatic book storage and retrieval system. The John Crerar Library contains more than 1.3 million volumes in the biological, medical and physical sciences and collections in general science and the philosophy and history of science, medicine, and technology. The university also operates a number of special libraries, including the D'Angelo Law Library, the Social Service Administration Library, and the Eckhart Library for mathematics and computer science, which closed temporarily for renovation on July 8, 2013. Harper Memorial Library no longer contains any volumes; however it is the only 24 hour study space on campus.
The UChicago Arts program joins academic departments and programs in the Division of the Humanities and the College, as well as professional organizations including the Court Theatre, the Oriental Institute, the Smart Museum of Art, the Renaissance Society, University of Chicago Presents, and student arts organizations. The university has an artist-in-residence program and scholars in performance studies, contemporary art criticism, and film history. It has offered a doctorate in music composition since 1933 and in Cinema & Media studies since 2000, a master of fine arts in visual arts (early 1970s), and a master of arts in the humanities with a creative writing track (2000). It has bachelor's degree programs in visual arts, music, and art history, and, more recently, Cinema & Media studies (1996) and theater & performance studies (2002). The College's general education core includes a “dramatic, music, and visual arts” requirement, requiring students to study the history of the arts, stage desire, or begin working with sculpture. Several thousand major and non-major undergraduates enroll annually in creative and performing arts classes. UChicago is often considered the birthplace of improvisational comedy as the Compass Players student comedy troupe evolved into The Second City improv theater troupe in 1959. The Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts opened in October 2012, five years after a $35 million gift from alumnus David Logan and his wife Reva. The center includes spaces for exhibitions, performances, classes, and media production. The Logan Center was designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. This building is actually entirely glass. The brick is a facade designed to keep the glass safe from the wind. The architects later removed sections of the bricks when pressure arose in the form of complaints that the views of the city were blocked.
The University of Chicago has a record of producing successful business leaders and billionaires. Its position as one of the U.S. and the world's most prestigious and prominent institutions has been confirmed by numerous rankings, with rankings organizations like ARWU and US News having consistently placed the University of Chicago amongst the top 10 universities in the world. Furthermore, its graduate schools have long been recognized to be world-class, with schools like the Booth School of Business being recognized as the best business school in the world in several rankings, and its Law and Medical Schools consistently occupying a position amongst the top five and top ten professional schools in the United States respectively. While Chicago exhibits excellence in almost all fields of academia, it particularly shows strength in the social sciences, with many rankings positioning the university as among the top 2 or top 5 in the world.
In the fall quarter of 2014, the University of Chicago enrolled 5,792 students in the College, 3,468 students in its four graduate divisions, 5,984 students in its professional schools, and 15,244 students overall. In the 2012 Spring Quarter, international students comprised almost 19% of the overall study body, over 26% of students were domestic ethnic minorities, and about 44% of enrolled students were female. Admissions to the University of Chicago is highly selective. The middle 50% band of SAT scores for the undergraduate class of 2015, excluding the writing section, was 1420–1530, the average MCAT score for entering students in the Pritzker School of Medicine in 2011 was 36, and the median LSAT score for entering students in the Law School in 2011 was 171. In 2015, the College of the University of Chicago had an acceptance rate of 7.8% for the Class of 2019, the lowest in the college's history.
Students at the University of Chicago run over 400 clubs and organizations known as Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs). These include cultural and religious groups, academic clubs and teams, and common-interest organizations. Notable extracurricular groups include the University of Chicago College Bowl Team, which has won 118 tournaments and 15 national championships, leading both categories internationally. The university's competitive Model United Nations team was the top ranked team in North America in 2013-14 and 2014-2015. Among notable RSOs are the nation's longest continuously running student film society Doc Films, organizing committee for the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt, the twice-weekly student newspaper The Chicago Maroon, the alternative weekly student newspaper South Side Weekly, the nation's second oldest continuously running student improvisational theater troupe Off-Off Campus, and the university-owned radio station WHPK-FM.
All Recognized Student Organizations, from the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt to Model UN, in addition to academic teams, sports club, arts groups, and more are funded by The University of Chicago Student Government. Student Government is made up of graduate and undergraduate students elected to represent members from their respective academic unit. It is led by an Executive Committee, chaired by a President with the assistance of two Vice Presidents, one for Administration and the other for Student Life, elected together as a slate by the student body each spring. Its annual budget is greater than $2 million.
There are fifteen fraternities and seven sororities at the University of Chicago, as well as one co-ed community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Four of the sororities are members of the National Panhellenic Conference, and ten of the fraternities form the University of Chicago Interfraternity Council. In 2002, the Associate Director of Student Activities estimated that 8–10 percent of undergraduates were members of fraternities or sororities. The student activities office has used similar figures, stating that one in ten undergraduates participate in Greek life.
On-campus undergraduate students at the University of Chicago participate in a house system in which each student is assigned to one of the university's 11 residence hall buildings and to a smaller community within their residence hall called a "house". There are 38 houses, with an average of 70 students in each house Freshmen are required to participate in the house system, and housing is guaranteed every year thereafter. About 60% of undergraduate students live on campus.
For graduate students, the university owns and operates 28 apartment buildings near campus.
Every May since 1987, the University of Chicago has held the University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt, in which large teams of students compete to obtain notoriously esoteric items from a list. Since 1963, the Festival of the Arts (FOTA) takes over campus for 7–10 days of exhibitions and interactive artistic endeavors. Every January, the university holds a week-long winter festival, Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko, which include early morning exercise routines and fitness workshops. The university also annually holds a summer carnival and concert called Summer Breeze that hosts outside musicians, and is home to Doc Films, a student film society founded in 1932 that screens films nightly at the university. Since 1946, the university has organized the Latke-Hamantash Debate, which involves humorous discussions about the relative merits and meanings of latkes and hamantashen.
In 2004, the University of Chicago claimed 133,155 living alumni. While the university's first president, William Rainey Harper stressed the importance of perennial theory over practicality in his institution's curriculum, this has not stopped the alumni of Chicago from being amongst the wealthiest in the world.
^"The First Reactor". December 1982. Retrieved July 15, 2009. On December 2, 1942, in a racquets court underneath the West Stands of Stagg Field at the University of Chicago, a team of scientists led by Enrico Fermi created man's first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction.
^"Academic Regulations and Procedures"(PDF). The University of Chicago. Archived from the original(PDF) on October 14, 2009. Retrieved August 13, 2009. Students register for three or four courses per quarter. Over the typical four-year program (twelve quarters), a student normally registers for at least six four-course quarters and as many as six three-course quarters.
^"Majors". University of Chicago Office of College Admissions. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
^"Minors". University of Chicago Office of College Admissions. Retrieved July 31, 2009.
^"About the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School". The University of Chicago. Archived from the original on June 9, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009. The Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School is a coeducational residential treatment program for children and adolescents in need of support for profound emotional issues...As an affiliate of the University of Chicago, the School is committed to fostering inquiry into the clinical and treatment needs of troubled children and youth
^"Chicago School for Children with Learning Disabilities". Hyde Park Day School. Retrieved September 9, 2009. The Hyde Park Day School (HPDS) is a private, not-for-profit day school serving the needs of children with learning disabilities... With two Illinois locations on the University of Chicago campus in Chicago and north suburban Northfield, HPDS is the only school of its kind in the Chicago area.
^"About TTI-C". August 2009. Retrieved August 17, 2009. An agreement between the University of Chicago and TTI – C allows cross-listing of computer science course offerings between the two institutions, providing students from each institution the opportunity to register in the other's courses.