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University of Chicago

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This article is about the private university founded in 1890. For a list of universities in Chicago, see Universities in Chicago.
For the public university in Chicago, see University of Illinois at Chicago. For the earlier university of the name, see Old University of Chicago.
The University of Chicago
Latin: Universitas Chicaginiensis
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 $7.55 billion[2]
President Robert J. Zimmer
Provost Eric Isaacs
Academic staff
Administrative staff
14,772 (including employees of the University of Chicago Medical Center)[3]
Students 15,312
Undergraduates 5,724[3]
Postgraduates 9,588[3]
Location Chicago, Illinois, U.S.


217 acres (87.8 ha) (Main Campus)[3]
42 acres (17.0 ha) (Warren Woods Ecological Field Station, Warren Woods State Park)[4]
30 acres (12.1 ha) (Yerkes Observatory)
Colors Maroon and White
Athletics NCAA Division IIIUAA
Nickname Maroons
Mascot Phoenix
Affiliations AAU
568 Group

The University of Chicago (U of C, Chicago, or UChicago) is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois and one of the world's leading and influential institutions of higher learning, with top ten positions in numerous rankings and measures.[5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

The university, established in 1890, consists of The College, various graduate programs, interdisciplinary committees organized into four academic research divisions and seven professional schools. Beyond the arts and sciences, Chicago is also well known for its professional schools, which include the Pritzker School of Medicine, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies and the Divinity School. The university currently enrolls approximately 5,000 students in the College and around 15,000 students overall.

University of Chicago scholars have played a major role in the development of various academic disciplines, including: the Chicago school of economics, the Chicago school of sociology, the law and economics movement in legal analysis,[12] the Chicago school of literary criticism, the Chicago school of religion,[13] and the behavioralism school of political science.[14] Chicago's physics department helped develop the world's first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction beneath the university's Stagg Field.[15] Chicago's research pursuits have been aided by unique affiliations with world-renowned institutions like the nearby Fermilab and Argonne National Laboratory, as well as the Marine Biological Laboratory. The university is also home to the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States.[16] With an estimated completion date of 2020, the Barack Obama Presidential Center will be housed at the University of Chicago and include both the Obama presidential library and offices of the Obama Foundation.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19]

The University of Chicago is home to many prominent alumni. 89 Nobel laureates[20] have been affiliated with the university as visiting professors, students, faculty, or staff, the fourth most of any institution in the world. In addition, Chicago's alumni include 49 Rhodes Scholars,[21] 21 Marshall Scholars,[22] 9 Fields Medalists,[23] 13 National Humanities Medalists,[24] 13 billionaire graduates, and a plethora of members of the United States Congress and heads of state of countries all over the world.[25]


Historical Coat of arms of the University of Chicago
An early convocation ceremony at the University of Chicago


The University of Chicago was created and incorporated as a coeducational,[26] 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.[27] While the Rockefeller donation provided money for academic operations and long-term endowment, it was stipulated that such money could not be used for buildings. The original physical campus was financed by donations from wealthy Chicagoans like Silas B. Cobb who provided the funds for the campus' first building, Cobb Lecture Hall, and matched Marshall Field's pledge of $100,000. Other early benefactors included businessmen Charles L. Hutchinson (trustee, treasurer and donor of Hutchinson Commons), Martin A. Ryerson (president of the board of trustees and donor of the Ryerson Physical Laboratory) Adolphus Clay Bartlett and Leon Mandel, who funded the construction of the gymnasium and assembly hall, and George C. Walker of the Walker Museum, a relative of Cobb who encouraged his inaugural donation for facilities.[28]

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.[29] William Rainey Harper became the modern university's first president on July 1, 1891, and the university opened for classes on October 1, 1892.[29]

The business school was founded in 1898,[30] and the law school was founded in 1902.[31] Harper died in 1906,[32] and was replaced by a succession of three presidents whose tenures lasted until 1929.[33] During this period, the Oriental Institute was founded to support and interpret archeological work in what was then called the Near East.[34]

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.[35]


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,[36] instituted the undergraduate college's liberal-arts curriculum known as the Common Core,[37] and organized the university's graduate work into its current[when?] four divisions.[36] In 1933, Hutchins proposed an unsuccessful plan to merge the University of Chicago and Northwestern University into a single university.[38] During his term, the University of Chicago Hospitals (now called the University of Chicago Medical Center) finished construction and enrolled its first medical students.[39] Also, the Committee on Social Thought, an institution distinctive of the university, was created.

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

Money that had been raised during the 1920s and financial backing from the Rockefeller Foundation helped the school to survive through the Great Depression.[36] During World War II, the university made important contributions to the Manhattan Project.[40] 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.[40][41]

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.[42] 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."[43] 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.[44]

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,[45] the most severe response to student occupations of any American university during the student movement.[46]

In 1978, Hanna Holborn Gray, then the provost and acting president of Yale University, became President of the University of Chicago, a position she held for 15 years.[47]


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.[48]

From the mid-2000s, 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.[49][50][51][52][53] 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.[54] In 2009, planning or construction on several new buildings, half of which cost $100 million or more, was underway.[55] 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.[56] In 2014 the University launched the public phase of a $4.5 billion fundraising campaign.[57] 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.[58]

On May 1, 2014, the University of Chicago was named one of fifty-five higher education institutions under investigation by the Office of Civil Rights "for possible violations of federal law over the handling of sexual violence and harassment complaints" by the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.[59]


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. In 2011, Travel+Leisure listed the university as one of the most beautiful college campuses in the United States.[60]

Cobb Lecture Hall, part of the Main Quadrangles, was the first and most expensive of the campus' original 16 buildings. Designed by Henry Ives Cobb (no relation to benefactor Silas B. Cobb) and constructed in 1892, it was modeled after Gothic buildings at University of Oxford.[61]

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.[62] The Main Quadrangles consist of six quadrangles, each surrounded by buildings, bordering one larger quadrangle.[63] The buildings of the Main Quadrangles were designed by Cobb, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, Holabird & Roche, and other architectural firms in a mixture of the Victorian Gothic and Collegiate Gothic styles, patterned on the colleges of the University of Oxford.[62] (Mitchell Tower, for example, is modeled after Oxford's Magdalen Tower,[64] and the university Commons, Hutchinson Hall, replicates Christ Church Hall.[65])

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).

After the 1940s, the Gothic style on campus began to give way to modern styles.[62] 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);[62] a series of arts buildings;[62] a building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the university's School of Social Service Administration;,[62] a building which is to become the home of the Harris School of Public Policy Studies by Edward Durrell Stone, and the Regenstein Library, the largest building on campus, a brutalist structure designed by Walter Netsch of the Chicago firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.[66] Another master plan, designed in 1999 and updated in 2004,[67] produced the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center (2003),[67] the Max Palevsky Residential Commons (2001),[62] South Campus Residence Hall and dining commons (2009), a new children's hospital,[68] and other construction, expansions, and restorations.[69] In 2011, the university completed the glass dome-shaped Joe and Rika Mansueto Library, which provides a grand reading room for the university library and prevents the need for an off-campus book depository.

The site of Chicago Pile-1 is a National Historic Landmark and is marked by the Henry Moore sculpture Nuclear Energy.[70] Robie House, a Frank Lloyd Wright building acquired by the university in 1963, is also a National Historic Landmark,[71] as is room 405 of the George Herbert Jones Laboratory, where Glenn T. Seaborg and his team were the first to isolate plutonium.[72] Hitchcock Hall, an undergraduate dormitory, is on the National Register of Historic Places.[73]

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.[76] 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.

Administration and finances

Hutchinson Commons

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.[77] 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.[78] As of August 2009, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Andrew Alper,[79] 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[80] and as of 2012 was valued at $6.571 billion.[81] Part of President Zimmer's financial plan for the university has been an increase in accumulation of debt to finance large building projects.[82] This has drawn support and criticism from many in the university community.


University of Chicago Main Quadrangles

The academic bodies of the University of Chicago consist of the College, four divisions of graduate research and seven professional schools. 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, Argonne National Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. The university is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.[83]

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).[84] Full-time undergraduate students take three to four courses every quarter[85] for approximately eleven weeks before their quarterly academic breaks. The school year typically begins in late September and ends in mid-June.[84]

Undergraduate college

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[86] and 28 minors.[87] 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.[88] 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.[89]

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).[90] As of the 2013–2014 school year, 15 courses and demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language are required under the Core.[91] 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."[92]

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 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.[93]

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

Professional schools

The university contains seven professional schools: the Pritzker School of Medicine, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the University of Chicago Law School, the University of Chicago Divinity School, the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration.

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.[83]

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),[94] the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School (a residential treatment program for those with behavioral and emotional problems),[95] and four public charter schools on the South Side of Chicago administered by the university's Urban Education Institute.[96] In addition, the Hyde Park Day School, a school for students with learning disabilities, maintains a location on the University of Chicago campus.[97] 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.[98] 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.[99] The university also operates the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States.[100]

Library system

University of Chicago, Harper Library

The University of Chicago Library system encompasses six libraries[101] that contain a total of 9.8 million volumes, the 11th most among library systems in the United States.[102] 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.[103] 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.[104][105] Harper Memorial Library no longer contains any volumes; however it is the only 24 hour study space on campus.


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.[106] It is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as an institution with "very high research activity"[107] 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.[108] 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,[109] In 2013, the university announced that it was affiliating the formerly independent Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.[110] Although formally unrelated, the National Opinion Research Center is located on Chicago's 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[111] 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.[112] 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,[113] and of the development of radiocarbon dating by Willard F. Libby in 1947. The chemical experiment that tested how life originated on early Earth, the Miller–Urey experiment, was conducted at the university. REM sleep was discovered at the university in 1953 by Nathaniel Kleitman and Eugene Aserinsky.[114]

The University of Chicago (Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics) has owned the Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin since 1897, where the largest operating refracting telescope in the world and other telescopes are located.


Saieh Hall for Economics, housing the Department of Economics and the Becker Friedman Institute

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.[115] 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.

Reputation and rankings

University rankings
ARWU[116] 8
Forbes[117] 20
U.S. News & World Report[118] 4
Washington Monthly[119] 55
ARWU[120] 9
QS[121] 10
Times[122] 10

The University of Chicago has a record of producing successful business leaders and billionaires.[123][124][125] 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.[126] 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.[127] 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.[128]


There have been 89 Nobel laureates affiliated with the University of Chicago,[129] 19 of whom were pursuing research or on faculty at the university at the time of the award announcement.[130]

In addition, many Chicago alumni and scholars have won the Fulbright awards[131] and 50 have matriculated as Rhodes Scholars.[132]

Student Body Demographics, Spring Quarter 2012[A]
By sex[133]
College Graduate
Male 51.3% 58.3% 61.2% 56.3%
Female 48.7% 41.7% 38.8% 43.7%
By race[134]
College Graduate
International student 9.7% 31.2% 20.6% 18.9%
African American 4.5% 2.8% 4.8% 4.3%
Native American 0.1% 0.3% 0.1% 0.2%
Arab/Middle Eastern/
North African
0.6% 0.5% 0.1% 0.2%
Asian 16.9% 4.9% 13.5% 12.4%
Pacific Islander 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.02%
Hispanic/Latino 9.0% 3.7% 4.8% 6.0%
Multiracial 4.0% 2.9% 2.0% 2.9%
White 42.8% 42.0% 48.2% 44.2%
Unspecified 12.4% 11.6% 5.9% 10.7%

Student body & admissions

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.[93] In the 2012 Spring Quarter, international students comprised almost 19% of the overall study body, over 26% of students were domestic ethnic minorities,[133] and about 44% of enrolled students were female.[135] 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,[136] the average MCAT score for entering students in the Pritzker School of Medicine in 2011 was 36,[137] and the median LSAT score for entering students in the Law School in 2011 was 171.[138] 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.[139]


Official Athletics logo
Main article: Chicago Maroons

The University of Chicago hosts 19 varsity sports teams: 10 men's teams and 9 women's teams,[140] all called the Maroons, with 502 students participating in the 2012–2013 school year.[140]

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.[140] In 1935, Chicago Maroons football player Jay Berwanger became the first winner of the Heisman Trophy. 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.[141] (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

Student organizations

Students at the University of Chicago run over 400 clubs and organizations known as Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs).[142][143] These include cultural and religious groups, academic clubs and teams, and common-interest organizations.[143] 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.

Student government

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.[144]

Fraternities and sororities

There are fifteen fraternities and seven sororities at the University of Chicago,[145] as well as one co-ed community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega.[146] Four of the sororities are members of the National Panhellenic Conference,[147] and ten of the fraternities form the University of Chicago Interfraternity Council.[148] In 2002, the Associate Director of Student Activities estimated that 8–10 percent of undergraduates were members of fraternities or sororities.[147] The student activities office has used similar figures, stating that one in ten undergraduates participate in Greek life.[145]

Student housing

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

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[149] Freshmen are required to participate in the house system, and housing is guaranteed every year thereafter.[150] About 60% of undergraduate students live on campus.[150]

For graduate students, the university owns and operates 28 apartment buildings near campus.[151]


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.[152] Since 1963, the Festival of the Arts (FOTA) takes over campus for 7–10 days of exhibitions and interactive artistic endeavors.[153] 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.


Physicist Enrico Fermi.

In 2004, the University of Chicago claimed 133,155 living alumni.[154] 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.[155][156][157]

In business, notable alumni include Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Oracle Corporation founder and the third richest man in America Larry Ellison, Goldman Sachs and MF Global CEO as well as former Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine, McKinsey & Company founder and author of the first management accounting textbook James O. McKinsey, Arley D. Cathey, Bloomberg L.P. CEO Daniel Doctoroff, Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan, Morningstar, Inc. founder and CEO Joe Mansueto, Chicago Cubs owner and chairman Thomas S. Ricketts, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

Notable alumni in the field of education have emerged from almost all parts of the university. The Divinity School, for example, prides itself on college president and chancellor Rebecca Chopp, current president of Middlebury College Laurie L. Patton, Robert M. Franklin, Jr., former president of Morehouse College, and president of Shimer College Susan Henking, each of whom received a Ph.D. from the Divinity School.

Notable alumni in the field of government and politics include the founder of modern community organizing Saul Alinsky, Obama campaign advisor and top political advisor to President Bill Clinton David Axelrod, Attorney General and federal judge Robert Bork, Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Prohibition agent Eliot Ness, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, Prime Minister of Canada William Lyon Mackenzie King, 11th Prime Minister of Poland Marek Belka, Governor of the Bank of Japan Masaaki Shirakawa, the first female African-American Senator Carol Moseley Braun, United States Senator from Vermont and 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders, and former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz.

In journalism, notable alumni include New York Times columnist and commentator on PBS News Hour David Brooks, Washington Post columnist David Broder, Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, investigative journalist and political writer Seymour Hersh, The Progressive columnist Milton Mayer, four-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Rick Atkinson, statistical analyst and FiveThirtyEight founder and creator Nate Silver, and CBS News correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.

In literature, author of the New York Times bestseller Before I Fall Lauren Oliver, Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Philip Roth, Canadian-born Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize for Literature winning writer Saul Bellow, political philosopher, literary critic and author of the New York Times bestseller "The Closing of the American Mind" Allan Bloom, ''The Good War" author Studs Terkel, American writer, essayist, filmmaker, teacher, and political activist Susan Sontag, analytic philosopher and Stanford University Professor of Comparative Literature Richard Rorty, and American writer and satirist Kurt Vonnegut are notable alumni.

In the arts and entertainment, minimalist composer Philip Glass, dancer, choreographer and leader in the field of dance anthropology Katherine Dunham, Bungie founder and developer of the Halo video game series Alex Seropian, Serial host Sarah Koenig, actor Ed Asner, Pulitzer Prize for Criticism winning film critic and the subject of the 2014 documentary film Life Itself Roger Ebert, director, writer, and comedian Mike Nichols, film director and screenwriter Philip Kaufman, and Carl Van Vechten, photographer and writer, are graduates.

In science, alumni include astronomers Carl Sagan, a prominent contributor to the scientific research of extraterrestrial life, and Edwin Hubble, known for "Hubble's Law", NASA astronaut John M. Grunsfeld, geneticist James Watson, best known as one of the co-discoverers of the structure of DNA, experimental physicist Luis Alvarez, popular environmentalist David Suzuki, balloonist Jeannette Piccard, biologists Ernest Everett Just and Lynn Margulis, computer scientist Richard Hamming, the creator of the Hamming Code, lithium-ion battery developer John B. Goodenough, mathematician and Fields Medal recipient Paul Joseph Cohen, and geochemist Clair Cameron Patterson, who developed the uranium-lead dating method into lead-lead dating. Nuclear physicist and researcher Stanton Friedman, who worked on some early projects involving nuclear-powered spacecraft propulsion systems, is also a graduate (M.Sc).

In economics, notable Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences winners Milton Friedman, a major advisor to Republican U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, George Stigler, Nobel laureate and proponent of regulatory capture theory, Gary Becker, an important contributor to the family economics branch of economics, Herbert A. Simon, responsible for the modern interpretation of the concept of organizational decision-making, Paul Samuelson, the first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and Eugene Fama, known for his work on portfolio theory, asset pricing and stock market behaviour, are all graduates. American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author Thomas Sowell is also an alumnus.

Other prominent alumni include anthropologists David Graeber and Donald Johanson, who is best known for discovering the fossil of a female hominid australopithecine known as "Lucy" in the Afar Triangle region, psychologist John B. Watson, American psychologist who established the psychological school of behaviorism, communication theorist Harold Innis, chess grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky, and conservative international relations scholar and White House Coordinator of Security Planning for the National Security Council Samuel P. Huntington.

American Civil Rights Movement leaders Vernon Johns, considered by some to be the founder of the American Civil Rights Movement, American educator, socialist and cofounder of the Highlander Folk School Myles Horton, Tuskegee Airmen commander Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., and African-American history scholar and journalist Carter G. Woodson are all alumni.

Three students from the university have been prosecuted in notable court cases, they include infamous thrill killers Leopold and Loeb, as well as high school science teacher John T. Scopes who was tried in the Scopes Monkey Trial.

The most famous fictional alumnus of the university is the archaeologist Indiana Jones, the title character of the Indiana Jones franchise.


An archway passage at the university

Notable faculty include the 28 Nobel laureates in Economics[158] associated with the university, including Milton Friedman, George Stigler, James Heckman, Gary Becker, Robert Fogel, Robert Lucas, Jr. and Eugene Fama. No university has had more affiliated Nobel laureates in Economics.[159] Additionally, the John Bates Clark Medal, which is rewarded annually to the best economist under the age of 40, has also been awarded to 7 members of the university faculty.[160]

Notable faculty in physics have included the speed of light calculator A. A. Michelson, elementary charge calculator Robert A. Millikan, discoverer of the Compton Effect Arthur H. Compton, the creator of the first nuclear reactor Enrico Fermi, "the father of the hydrogen bomb" Edward Teller, "one of the most brilliant and productive experimental physicists of the twentieth century" Luis Walter Alvarez, Murray Gell-Mann who introduced the quark, second female Nobel laureate Maria Goeppert-Mayer, the youngest American winner of the Nobel Prize Tsung-Dao Lee, and astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

In law, the President of the United States of America Barack Obama, the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century Richard Posner, Supreme Court justices Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia, and Nobel laureate in Economics Ronald Coase have served on the faculty.

Philosophers John Dewey who founded functional psychology, George H. Mead who is considered to be one of the founders of social psychology and the American sociological tradition in general, noted analyzer of power Hannah Arendt, and Nobel Prize in Literature winning thinker Bertrand Russell, as well as writers T.S. Eliot, Ralph Ellison and J.M. Coetzee have all served on the faculty.

Past faculty have also included Egyptologist James Henry Breasted, mathematician Alberto Calderón, Nobel prize winning economist and classical liberalism defender Friedrich Hayek, meteorologist Ted Fujita, chemists Glenn T. Seaborg, the developer of the actinide concept and Nobel Prize winner Yuan T. Lee, Nobel Prize winning novelist Saul Bellow, political philosopher and author Allan Bloom, cancer researchers Charles Brenton Huggins and Janet Rowley, astronomer Gerard Kuiper, one of the most important figures in the early development of the discipline of linguistics Edward Sapir, and the founder of McKinsey & Co., James O. McKinsey.

Current faculty include the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, historian Dipesh Chakrabarty, paleontologists Neil Shubin and Paul Sereno, evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, Nobel prize winning physicist Yoichiro Nambu, Nobel prize winning physicist James Cronin, Nobel Prize winning economists Eugene Fama, James Heckman, Lars Peter Hansen, Roger Myerson and Robert Lucas, Jr., Freakonomics author and noted economist Steven Levitt, current governor of India's central bank Raghuram Rajan, the 74th United States Secretary of the Treasury and former Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Hank Paulson, former Chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisors Austan Goolsbee, Shakespeare scholar David Bevington, and renowned political scientists John Mearsheimer and Robert Pape.


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External links

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