University of Chicago

University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The seal of the University of Chicago. It is in the shape of a shield, with a drawing of a phoenix on the bottom and a book with the University's motto "Crescat scientia; vita excolatur" on the top.
Motto Crescat scientia; vita excolatur (Latin)
Motto in English Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched[1]
Established 1890
Type Private nondenominational coeducational
Endowment US $6.31 billion[2]
President Robert Zimmer
Academic staff 2,168[3]
Admin. staff 14,772 (including employees of the University of Chicago Medical Center)[3]
Undergraduates 5,134[4]
Postgraduates 10,304[4]
Location Chicago, Illinois
Campus Urban, 211 acres (85.4 ha)[3]
Colors Maroon      White     [5]
Athletics NCAA Division III UAA
Nickname Maroons
Mascot Phoenix

Association of American Universities

Committee on Institutional Cooperation
The University of Chicago Logo

The University of Chicago (U of C, UC, UChicago, or simply Chicago) is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890. William Rainey Harper became the university's first president, in 1891, and the first classes were held in 1892. It has a reputation of devotion to academic scholarship and intellectualism[6][7] and is affiliated with scores of Rhodes Scholars and 87 Nobel Prize laureates, the largest number affiliated with any American university.[8][9]

The University consists of the College of the University of Chicago, various graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees organized into four divisions, six professional schools, and a school of continuing education. The University enrolls approximately 5,000 students in the College and about 15,000 students overall.

In 2008, the University spent $423.7 million on scientific research.[10] University of Chicago scholars have played a role in the development of the Chicago school of economics, the Chicago school of sociology, the law and economics movement in legal analysis,[11] the Chicago school of literary criticism, the Chicago school of religion [12] and the physics leading to the world's first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction.[13] The University is also home to the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States.[14]



An early convocation ceremony at the University of Chicago


The University of Chicago was created and incorporated as a coeducational,[15] secular institution in 1890 by the American Baptist Education Society and a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller on land donated by Marshall Field.[16] It emerged from a Baptist university of the same name that had closed in 1886 due to financial difficulties. William Rainey Harper became the modern University's first president on July 1, 1891, and the first classes were held on October 1, 1892.[17]

The business school was founded in 1898,[18] and the law school was founded in 1902.[19] Harper died in 1906,[20] and was replaced by a series of three presidents whose tenures lasted until 1929.[21] During this period, the Oriental Institute was founded.[22]


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 deemphasize athletics over academics,[23] instituted the undergraduate college's liberal-arts curriculum known as the Common Core,[24] and organized the University's graduate work into its current four divisions.[23] In 1933, Hutchins proposed an unsuccessful plan to merge the University of Chicago and Northwestern University into a single university.[25] During his term, the University of Chicago Hospitals (now called the University of Chicago Medical Center) finished construction and enrolled its first medical students,[26] and the Committee on Social Thought was created.

A group of people in suits standing in three rows on the steps in front of a stone building.
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

Money that had been raised during the 1920s and financial backing from the Rockefeller Foundation helped the school to survive through the Great Depression.[23] During World War II, the University made important contributions to the Manhattan Project.[27] The University was the site of the first isolation of plutonium and of the creation of the first artificial, self-sustained nuclear reaction by Enrico Fermi in 1942.[27][28]

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.[29]

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. 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,[30] the most severe response to student occupations of any American university during the student movement.[31]

In 1978, Hanna Holborn Gray, then the provost and acting president of Yale University, became President of the University of Chicago, in which capacity she served for 15 years.[32]

View from the Midway Plaisance


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.[33]

In the past decade, the University began a number of multi-million 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.[34] [35][36][37][38] 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.[39] In 2009, planning or construction on several new buildings, half of which cost $100 million or more, was underway.[40]

A recent two billion dollar campaign has brought substantial expansion to the campus, including the unveiling of the Max Palevsky Residential Commons, the South Campus Residence Hall, the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, a new hospital, and a new science building. Current construction projects include: the Jules and Gwen Knapp Center for Biomedical Discovery, a ten-story medical research center, as well as further additions to the medical campus of the University of Chicago Medical Center.[41]


The 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 campus of the University of the Chicago.
The campus of the University of the Chicago. From the top of Rockefeller Chapel, the Main Quadrangles can be seen on the left (West), the Oriental Institute and the Chicago Theological Seminary can be seen in the center (North), and the Booth School of Business and Laboratory Schools can be seen on the right (East). The panoramic is bounded on both sides by the Midway Plaisance (South).

The main campus of the University of Chicago consists of 211 acres (85.4 ha) in the Chicago neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Woodlawn, seven miles (11 km) south of downtown Chicago. The northern and southern portions of campus are separated by the Midway Plaisance, a large, linear park created for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.

The first buildings of the University of Chicago campus, which make up what is now known as the Main Quadrangles, were part of a "master plan" conceived by two University of Chicago trustees and plotted by Chicago architect Henry Ives Cobb.[42] The Main Quadrangles consist of six quadrangles, each surrounded by buildings, bordering one larger quadrangle.[43] The buildings of the Main Quadrangles were designed by Cobb, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, Holabird & Roche, and other architectural firms in the Collegiate Gothic style, deliberately patterned after the layouts of the Universities of Oxford.[42] (Mitchell Tower, for example, is modeled after Oxford's Magdalen Tower,[44] and the University Commons, Hutchinson Hall, is a duplicate of Oxford's Christ Church Hall.[45])

After the 1940s, the Collegiate Gothic style on campus began to give way to modern styles.[42] In 1955, Eero Saarinen was contracted to develop a second master plan, which led to the construction of buildings both north and south of the Midway, including the Laird Bell Law Quadrangle (a complex designed by Saarinen);[42] a series of arts buildings;[42] a building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the University's School of Social Service Administration;[42] and the Regenstein Library, the largest building on campus, a brutalist structure designed by Walter Netsch of the Chicago firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill.[46] Another master plan, designed in 1999 and updated in 2004,[47] produced the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center (2003),[47] the Max Palevsky Residential Commons (2001),[42] South Campus Residence Hall and dining commons (2009), a new children's hospital,[48] and other constructions, expansions, and restorations.[49]

The site of Chicago Pile-1 is a National Historic Landmark and is marked by the Henry Moore sculpture Nuclear Energy.[50] Robie House, a Frank Lloyd Wright building acquired by the University in 1963, is also a National Historic Landmark,[51] as is room 405 of the George Herbert Jones Laboratory, where Glenn T. Seaborg and his team were the first to isolate plutonium.[52] Hitchcock Hall, an undergraduate dormitory, is on the National Register of Historic Places.[53]

Campus of the University of Chicago
An ivy-covered building
Snell-Hitchcock, an undergraduate dormitory constructed around the turn of the 20th century, is located on the Main Quadrangles. 
A large stone building with a carillon tower. The building has many turrets, arches, and columns.
Rockefeller Chapel, which was designed by Bertram Goodhue and constructed in 1928, showing archetypical neo-Gothic architecture 
A tall, jagged gray building with protruding windows
The Henry Hinds Laboratory for Geophysical Sciences was built in 1969.[54] 
A large red building facing a concrete plaza. Part of the roof is overhanging and supported by cables attached above and below to white poles.
The Gerald Ratner Athletics Center, opened in 2003 and designed by Cesar Pelli, is home to the U of C's volleyball, wrestling, swimming, and basketball teams.[55] 

Satellite campuses

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.[56] The University of Chicago also opened a new center in Beijing in fall 2010.

Administration and finances

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.[57] 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.[58] As of August 2009, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Andrew Alper,[59] and the President of the University is Robert Zimmer.

The University's endowment was the 12th largest among American educational institutions and state university systems in 2010[60] and as of July 2010 is valued at $5.578 billion.[2]


University rankings (overall)
Forbes[61] 8
U.S. News & World Report[62] 5
Washington Monthly[63] 9
ARWU[64] 9
QS[65] 8
Times[66] 9

The University is considered an "Ivy Plus" institution, denoting a school that competes academically with Ivy League universities.[67]

The academic bodies of the University of Chicago consist of the College, four divisions of graduate research, six professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies (a continuing education school). The University also contains a library system, the University of Chicago Press, the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, and the University of Chicago Medical Center, and holds ties with a number of independent academic institutions, including Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory. The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.[68]

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).[69] Full-time undergraduate students take three to four courses every quarter[70] for approximately eleven weeks before their quarterly academic breaks. The school year typically begins in late September and ends in mid-June.[69]

Undergraduate college

The College of the University of Chicago grants Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 49 academic majors and 22 minors.[71] 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.[72] 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.[73]

Undergraduate students are required to take a distribution of courses to satisfy the University's core curriculum known as the Common Core. Most of the Core classes at Chicago contain no more than 25 students, and are generally led by a full-time professor (as opposed to a teaching assistant).[74] As of the 2009–2010 school year, 15 courses, tested proficiency in a foreign language, passage of a swim test, and up to three physical education courses (depending on results of an entrance examination) are required under the Core.[24]

Eckhart Hall houses the University's math and statistics departments.

Graduate schools and committees

The University graduate schools and committees are divided into four divisions: Biological Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences. In the spring quarter of 2009, the University enrolled 3,633 graduate students: 485 in the Biological Sciences Division, 1,076 in the Humanities Division, 732 in the Physical Sciences Division, and 1,340 in the Social Sciences Division.[75]

The University is home to several committees for interdisciplinary scholarship, including the Committee on Social Thought.

Professional schools

The University contains six professional schools: the Pritzker School of Medicine (which is a part of the Biological Sciences Division), the Booth School of Business, the Law School, the Divinity School, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, and the School of Social Service Administration (SSA). The total enrollment for these six professional schools was 5,086 students in the 2009 spring quarter: 2,878 students in the business school, 344 in the Divinity School, 452 in the medical school, 269 in the Harris School, 494 in SSA, and 649 in the Law School.[75]

The Law School is accredited by the American Bar Association, the Divinity School is accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada, Pritzker is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education.[68]

Associated academic institutions

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),[76] the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School (a residential treatment program for those with behavioral and emotional problems),[77] and four public charter schools on the South Side of Chicago administered by the university's Urban Education Institute.[78] In addition, the Hyde Park Day School, a school for students with learning disabilities, maintains a location on the University of Chicago campus.[79] 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.[80] 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.[81] The University also operates the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States.[14]

The Joseph Regenstein Library

Library system

The University of Chicago Library system encompasses six libraries[82] that contain a total of 8.5 million volumes, the 12th most among library systems in the United States.[83] The largest of the University's libraries is the Regenstein Library, which will be the largest collection of print volumes in the United States once its expansion is completed in 2010.[84][85] 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.[86] 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.[87]


Aerial view of Fermilab, one of the science research laboratories partially operated by the University of Chicago

In fiscal year 2006, the University of Chicago spent US$305,301,000 on scientific research.[88] It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as an institution with "very high research activity"[89] and is a founding member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the Association of American Universities.

The University operates 12 research institutes and 113 research centers on campus.[90] Among these are the Oriental Institute—a museum and research center for Near Eastern studies owned and operated by the University—and a number of National Resource Centers, including the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Chicago also operates or is affiliated with a number of research institutions apart from the university proper. The University partially manages Argonne National Laboratory, part of the United States Department of Energy's national laboratory system, and has a joint stake in Fermilab, a nearby particle physics laboratory, as well as a stake in the Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico. Faculty and students at the adjacent Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago collaborate with the University,[91] and although formally unrelated, the National Opinion Research Center is located on campus.

The University of Chicago has been the site of some important experiments and academic movements. In economics, the University has played an important role in shaping ideas about the free market[92] and is the namesake of the Chicago school of economics, the school of economic thought supported by Milton Friedman and other economists. The University's sociology department was the first independent sociology department in the United States and gave birth to the Chicago school of sociology.[93] In physics, the University was the site of the Chicago Pile-1 (the first self-sustained man-made nuclear reaction, part of the Manhattan Project), of Robert Millikan's oil-drop experiment that calculated the charge of the electron,[94] and of the development of radiocarbon dating.[95]


There have been 87 Nobel Laureates affiliated with the University of Chicago,[8] 17 of whom were pursuing research or on faculty at the University at the time of the award announcement.[96]

In addition, many Chicago alumni and scholars have won the Fulbright awards[97] and 44 have matriculated as Rhodes Scholars.[98]

Student Body Demographics, Spring Quarter 2009[A]
By gender[99]
College Graduate
Male 50.3% 56.6% 60.9% 55.1%
Female 49.7% 43.4% 39.1% 44.9%
By race[100]
College Graduate
International student 8.8% 28.4% 21.2% 18.3%
African American 5.7% 3.3% 5.4% 4.9%
Native American 0.3% 0.4% 0.2% 0.4%
Arab/Middle Eastern/
North African
0.4% 0.2% 0.2% 0.4%
Asian 13.8% 4.6% 14.7% 11.6%
Pacific Islander 0.06% 0.02% 0.06% 0.06%
Hispanic/Latino 8.6% 3.0% 4.2% 5.4%
Multiracial 0.4% 0.9% 1.1% 0.8%
White 44.2% 47.9% 47.7% 46.5%
Unspecified 17.7% 11.3% 5.17% 11.9%

Student body

In the 2009 Spring Quarter, the University of Chicago enrolled 4,920 students in the College, 3,633 students in its four graduate divisions, 5,088 students in its professional schools, and 14,000 students overall.[101] In the 2009 Spring Quarter, international students comprised about 18% of the overall study body, at least 23% of students were domestic ethnic minorities, and 45% were female.[99] The middle 50% band of SAT scores for the undergraduate class of 2014, excluding the writing section, was 1400–1530,[102] the average MCAT score of students in the Pritzker School of Medicine is 36,[103] and the median LSAT score for students entering the Law School in 2009 was 171.[104]


In 2004, the University of Chicago claimed 133,155 living alumni.[105]


UChicago Maroons.svg

The University of Chicago hosts 19 varsity sports teams: 10 men's teams and 9 women's teams,[106] all called the Maroons, with 585 students participating in the 2008–2009 school year.[106]

The Maroons compete in the NCAA's Division III as members of the University Athletic Association (UAA). The University was a founding member of the Big Ten Conference and participated in the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball and Football and was a regular participant in the Men's Basketball tournament. In 1935 the University of Chicago reached the Sweet Sixteen.[106] However, the University chose to withdraw from the conference in 1946 after University President Robert Maynard Hutchins de-emphasized varsity athletics in 1939 and dropped football.[107] (In 1969, Chicago reinstated football as a Division III team, resuming playing its home games at the new Stagg Field.)

Student life

The University's Reynolds Club, the student center
An orange brick building with pink window frames and a blue roof
Max Palevsky Residential Commons, a dormitory constructed in 2001 designed by postmodernist Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta

Student organizations

Students at the University of Chicago run over 400 clubs and organizations known as Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs).[108][109] These include cultural and religious groups, academic clubs and teams, and common-interest organizations.[109] 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, and the University-owned radio station WHPK-FM.

Fraternities and sororities

There are fourteen fraternities and six sororities at the University of Chicago,[110] as well as one co-ed community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega.[111] Three of the sororities are members of the National Panhellenic Conference,[112] and ten of the fraternities form the University of Chicago Interfraternity Council.[113] In 2002, the Associate Director of Student Activities estimated that 8–10 percent of undergraduates were members of fraternities or sororities.[112] The student activities office has used similar figures, stating that one in ten undergraduates participate in Greek life.[110]

Student housing

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 10 residence hall buildings and to a smaller community within their residence hall called a "house". There are 35 houses, with an average of 70 students in each house[114] Freshmen are required to participate in the house system, and housing is guaranteed every year thereafter.[115] About 60% of undergraduate students live on campus.[115]

For graduate students, the University owns and operates 28 apartment buildings near campus.[116]


Qwazy Quad Rally, Scav Hunt 2005, item #38

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.[117] Since 1963, the Festival of the Arts (FOTA) takes over campus for 7-10 days of exhibitions and interactive artistic endeavors. [118] 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.


  • ^ "Graduate school" figures are totals of the data from each of the four divisions. "Professional school" figures are totals of Booth, the Divinity School, the Law School, Harris, SSA, and Pritzker. The Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies, "Graduate Affairs", and "Special Programs" are included in the "University total" figures, but not in anything else.


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Coordinates: 41°47′23″N 87°35′59″W / 41.78972°N 87.59972°W / 41.78972; -87.59972

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