University of Chicago

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox University The University of Chicago is a private co-educational university located in Chicago, Illinois. Just over a century old, it is highly regarded as a teaching institution, considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world; the last National Research Council peer review ranked the University of Chicago at the top in the list for both faculty quality and teaching. As the academic home of such intellectual titans as Martha Nussbaum, Richard Posner, Leon Kass, William Landes, Leo Strauss and Ronald Coase, the University of Chicago is sometimes referred to as the most intellectual and bookish of American schools.


Location and Campus

The University is located eight miles (13 km) south of the Loop in the Chicago neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Woodlawn. The campus is noted for its Gothic architecture (carried out entirely in limestone); the buildings and layout of the Main Quadrangle have been deliberately patterned after Cambridge from the founding of the University. Buildings that are more contemporary have attempted to complement the style of the original buildings with mixed success. One of the most striking buildings is the brutalist Regenstein Library. The campus is home to several significant buildings, including Bertram Goodhue's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel (notable for its solid stone construction), the Oriental Institute, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House. The campus spans the Midway, a large linear public park that was a part of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The bulk of the campus, including the main quadrangle and the hospitals, are north of the Midway; several of the professional schools are located south of the Midway.

A recent $2 billion capital campaign has brought unprecedented expansion to the school. The last few years have featured much change on campus: the unveiling of Max Palevsky dormitory (primarily for first year students), the conversion of Bartlett Gym into a dining hall, the opening of the new Ratner Athletic Center (a Cesar Pelli design) and matching parking/office structure, the construction of the new Comer Children's Hospital, the Graduate School of Business' new Hyde Park Center (a Rafael Violy building), and an Interdivisional Research Building for sciences (still under construction). The University has also expanded outside of Hyde Park, opening the new Gleacher Center (a Business School center) in the Chicago Loop, and the new Paris Center on the left bank (for collegiate study abroad). The University plans to direct the next stage of its “master plan” towards revamping and consolidating dormitories, many of which are far from campus and ageing poorly. Plans are being prepared for the construction of a new undergraduate dormitory on land south of the Midway Plaissance, a strip of park space that runs along the south border of Hyde Park. The Graduate School of Business also maintains campuses in Singapore and Barcelona, although the latter will soon be phased out in favor of a London location.


Students by the Kent Chemical Laboratory
Students by the Kent Chemical Laboratory
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A gated entrance to the University's main quadrangle, made famous in the film When Harry Met Sally...
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Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, located on the University's campus
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Windowed ceiling of the Graduate School of Business
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The interior of the Graduate School of Business

The University was founded in 1893 by John D. Rockefeller (of Standard Oil fame), at the end of a wave of university foundings stretching from the middle of the 19th century until the beginning of the 20th (Washington University in St. Louis, MIT, Vanderbilt, Johns Hopkins, University of Southern California, Stanford, Caltech, Northwestern, Rice University, and Carnegie Mellon also came into being during this time period). Westward migration, population growth, and the industrialization of America led to an increasing need for elite schools away from the East coast - schools whose focus would be on issues vital to national development. Rockefeller’s choice of Chicago – he was urged to build in the New England or the Mid-Atlantic States – demonstrated his outspoken desire to see Thomas Jefferson’s dream of a "natural aristocracy," determined by talent rather than familial heritage, rise to national prominence (he having pulled himself up by the figurative bootstraps). His early fiscal emphasis on the Physics department showed his pragmatic, yet nevertheless intellectually rigorous, desires for the school. Founded under Baptist auspices, the University today lacks a sectarian affiliation. The school's traditions of rigorous scholarship were established by Presidents William Rainey Harper and Robert Maynard Hutchins. Allowing women and minorities to matriculate from its inception, when their access to other leading Universities was an extreme rarity, the University counts among its alumni many prominent pioneers from both groups.

Different from many other universities, the school was first set up around a number of graduate research institutions, following Germanic precedent. The College remained quite small (numerically and in intra-institutional importance) compared to its East coast peers until the middle of the twentieth century. As a result, graduate research and professional programs at the University continue to dwarf undergraduate education by a two-to-one student ratio (its undergraduate student body remains the second smallest amongst top 15 universities, behind historically small Dartmouth). Nevertheless, most faculty members have dual appointments to their respective Schools, Divisions or Institutes, as well as to the undergraduate College.

An important event in the development of nuclear energy took place at the university. On December 12, 1942 the world's first self-sustaining nuclear reaction was achieved at Stagg Field on the campus of the university under the direction of Enrico Fermi. A sculpture by Henry Moore marks the location where this reaction took place; the stadium has since been demolished to make way for the Regenstein Library.

Divisions and Schools

The University currently maintains twelve units, grouped into divisions for graduate research, professional schools, the undergraduate College, the Library, the Press, the Lab Schools (an elite K-12 system), and the Hospitals.

The Divisions: Biological Sciences, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Humanities,

The Professional Schools: the Divinity School, the Law School, the Graduate School of Business, the Pritzker School of Medicine, the Harris School of Public Policy and the School of Social Service Administration.

The Graham School of General Studies is administrative rather than a formal school within the University, and administers a variety of degree and non-degree extension work for high school students through postgraduates.

The University furthermore features the Laboratory Schools (grades K-12, founded by John Dewey and considered one of the leading University affiliated preparatory schools in the United States), the Hyde Park Day Schools (ages 6-15, for the learning disabled of otherwise exceptional ability) and the Orthogenic School (a residential treatment program for ages 5-20 with behavioral and emotional problems). The University also administers two public charter schools on the South Side of Chicago, although these schools are not considered a true part of the University community.

The Princeton Review has rated the University as having the "Best Overall Educational Experience" for undergraduates among all American universities and colleges (the student-to-faculty ratio of 4:1, ranked the second lowest amongst top 50 American Universities, allows for small class sizes and exceptional faculty interaction). It has been reported that more students go on to graduate school from Chicago than at any other college in the country.

The University's professional schools also rank highly: the Graduate School of Business has been ranked 1st (Economist)[1] (, 6th by (US News) (, 2nd by (BusinessWeek) and 4th by the (Financial Times), the Law School ranks 6th (US News) ( and 2nd (Leiter) (, the School of Social Service Administration School ranks 3rd (US News)and ( 1st (Gourman Report) (, the Divinity School ranks 2nd (National Research Council) (, the Pritzker School of Medicine ranks 22nd (US News) (, while The Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies ranks 17th (US News) (

The University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the country and publishes The Chicago Manual of Style, the definitive guide to American English usage. The University also operates a number of off-campus scientific research institutions, the best known of which is probably Fermilab, or the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, managed by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy. The University also operates the Argonne National Laboratory, owns and operates Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, the Oriental Institute, and has a stake in Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico. The University is also a founding member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.

The economics department is particularly well-known, so much so that an entire school of economics thought ("The Chicago School") bears its name. Characterized by conservative thinkers and Nobel Prize winners like Milton Friedman, Gary Becker and Robert Lucas, the department has played an important part in shaping thought on the efficacy of the free market. Rather infamously, Chicago economists, the "Chicago Boys", assisted Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in planning out his country's finances.

An interesting anecdote about a University of Chicago statue built outside the soon-to-be new economics building: The artist constructed the statue so that on May 1, International Workers' Day, of every year, it casts (weather permitting) a sickle-and-hammer shadow on the ground in front of the building. Upon realizing this, the conservative economics department protested. But the University refused to remove the statue because of the ingenuity that had been required to construct it. At this point, the economics department promptly moved back into their older, more cramped facilities, giving the larger building over to the International Studies department.

More recently, the economics department has been particularly well served by young economists Steven Levitt, Robert Shimer, Fernando Alvarez.

The school was also a base for the Chicago school of sociology, and was home to many who have come to be considered widely important in the field, including Albion Small, George Herbert Mead, Robert E. Park, W. I. Thomas, Erving Goffman. While its overall influence on the field has declined, the school's sociology program remains among the nation's highest ranking.

Sports and Traditions

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Grotesque on Anatomy building with Bartlett Hall in the background

The school's sports teams are called the Maroons and their athletic colors are maroon and white. [2] ( They participate in the NCAA's Division III and in the University Athletic Association. At one time the University of Chicago's football teams, the original Monsters of the Midway, were among the best in the country, winning seven Big Ten titles from 1895 to 1939. The University is also the only school ever to be undefeated in football against Notre Dame. In 1935, Chicago's Jay Berwanger was the winner of the first-ever Heisman Trophy. However, the school, a founding member of the Big Ten Conference, de-emphasized varsity athletics in 1939 when it dropped football and withdrew from the league in 1946. It is erroneously claimed that Robert Maynard Hutchins, president at the time, said, "Whenever I feel like exercising, I lie down until the feeling passes." [3] ( Chicago maintains an affiliation with the Big Ten schools in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which is a consortium of the twelve [4] ( Midwestern research universities.[5] (

The school's mascot is the Phoenix, so chosen for two reasons: in honor of Chicago's rebirth after the great fire and also in honor of the previous University of Chicago (whose origins were unrelated to the current), which folded due to financial reasons (thus making this a second and far more glorious incarnation of the University).

One notorious tradition is the annual Scavenger Hunt, a multi-day event in which large teams compete to obtain all the items on a very long list. A resident of the Snell-Hitchcock dormitory created the event in 1987 (although slashdot has found a person who claims to have done it in 1985) and Snell-Hitchcock dorm continues with a long history of victories including 2004's Hunt (though Snell tied with another dorm, Max Palevsky, in 2005). So far, each year has also involved a lengthy road trip to find many of these items in obscure parts of the United States, involving treks as far as New Jersey, or as mind-bogglingly obtuse as Zion, Illinois (where students had to "flip the switch at the last city of man," a reference to the city of Zion in The Matrix). While items such as Michael Jordan, a full-sized El car, a full-sized blimp displaying the name of the team's residence house, and an adult elephant have not appeared, lore maintains that in 1999 two students built a working nuclear reactor for Scavenger Hunt, though more accurately they irradiated thorium with thermal neutrons, and observed traces of both uranium and plutonium. A recurring joke during the late '80's to early '90's was one item signed by "Mike Royko of the Chicago Tribune" (to avoid literalists running out and finding a different Mike Royko to sign their pair of sweat socks). Rumor has it that Royko always arranged to be on vacation during the Scavenger Hunt weekend.

The 2005 Scav Hunt items include an entirely edible moving-type printing press, doing anything for love, and a circumcision. For more information, go to

A famous former campus tradition was Sleepout, which took place each spring on the weekend before the opening of registration for the next year's classes. The tradition began when students wishing to get into the most popular courses would sleep out on the quads in order to be first in line. Eventually, the queueing was organized with a lottery for places in line taking place 24 hours in advance of registration. Actually, it was even worse than this--students didn't actually register the next day; they slept out to get an appointment for a preregistration counseling, held with the student advisor within the next two weeks. After that, you'd go register. Forced to stay on campus and report at unannounced line checks, students found creative ways to pass the time. That this event became the biggest party of the year is perhaps a testament to the College's aforementioned reputation for academic zeal. Under the presidency of Hugo Sonnenschein, Sleepout was ended in 1993. In 1997 course registration was changed to use an Internet-based system.

The campus paper is the Chicago Maroon, founded in 1892, the same year as the university. It is published every Tuesday and Friday. Notable extracurricular groups include: The University of Chicago College Bowl Team, which has garnered 101 tournament wins and 12 national championships - leading both categories internationally, Model United Nations, which is an often a favorite at national conferences and hosts a large simulation annually, and the Chess Club, who likewise is a national powerhouse and whose ranks have included Masters of varying degrees. The Mock Trial and Parliamentary Debate teams have also fared well at the national level in recent years. WHPK is the student-run community radio station of the university.

Popular among students are University of Chicago t-shirts with various self-deprecatory sayings on them, including: "U of C: Where fun comes to die"; "U of C: Where the end of the world began! (with appropriate mushroom cloud picture)"; "U of C: Where the squirrels are more aggressive than the boys"; "U of C: Where the squirrels are cuter than the girls"; and "U of C: Where the only thing that goes down on you is your GPA."

Students, Alumni and Faculty

Main article: List of University of Chicago alumni

Called the "teacher of teachers", academia is the most popular career choice for its graduates, with one in seven taking an academic appointment (a rate matched by no other University). Scholars affiliated with Chicago have obtained a total of: 78 Nobel Prizes (the most by any institution in the world except the University of Cambridge), 26 MacArthur Fellowships (or "genius grants"), 220 Guggenheim Fellowships, 17 John Bates Clark Medals, 12 Pulitzer Prizes, 3 National Medals of the Arts, 11 National Humanities Medals / Charles Frankel Prizes, 13 National Medals of Science, and an Abel Prize. Chicago undergraduates in the past five years have won: five Rhodes, four Marshall, three Truman, three Churchill, and two Gates Cambridge Scholarships. Moreover, in 2004, for the 18th consecutive year, University students won more Fulbright-Hays fellowships than any U.S. educational institution, with 23 students (68 percent of applicants) receiving awards. Chicago is also home to the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, the nation’s oldest prize for undergraduate teaching (founded in 1938), and one which is highly coveted amongst faculty. Additionally, Chicago students and faculty have gone on to head several other major academic institutions (i.e. Presidencies, Chancellorships), namely: Stanford University, The University of Oxford, Northwestern University, and the University of California.

External links

Template:University Athletic Associationde:University of Chicago fr:Universit de Chicago ja:シカゴ大学 zh-cn:芝加哥大学


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