University Of Chicago Essay Guidelines Middle School

The College of the University of Chicago is the university's sole undergraduate institution and one of its oldest components, emerging contemporaneously with the university's Hyde Park campus in 1892. Instruction is provided by faculty from across all graduate divisions and schools for its 6,300 students,[1] but the College retains a select group of young, proprietary scholars who teach its core curriculum offerings. Unlike many major American research universities, the College is small in comparison to the University's graduate divisions, with graduate students outnumbering undergraduates at a 2:1 ratio. The College is most notable for its core curriculum pioneered by Robert Maynard Hutchins, which remains among the most expansive of highly ranked American colleges,[2] as well as its emphasis on preparing students for continued graduate study since 85% of graduates go onto graduate study within 5 years of graduation, which is higher than any other school, and around 15-20% of graduates go on to receive PhDs.[3]

Reputation and admissions[edit]

For 2016, U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Chicago as 3rd in the nation for undergraduate education, behind Princeton and Harvard, and tied with Yale.[4]

In 2012, Forbes magazine ranked the University of Chicago's undergraduate program 4th in the country, ahead of every Ivy League institution except Princeton; it was also ranked 1st in the Midwest, 3rd among research universities, and 4th among private colleges.[5] In 2010, Forbes also named the University of Chicago a "billionaire university," ranking the university as the 6th most successful in the country for producing billionaire alumni.[6]

In 2007 Princeton Review named the College as having the "Best Undergraduate Academic Experience" in the United States.[7] In the 2012 edition of The Best 376 Colleges, the Princeton Review ranked UChicago 7th for politically active students, 9th for students who study the most, 13th for the best college library, and named it a "best-value college"; the Princeton Review moreover finds that in general applicants to UChicago also simultaneously apply to Ivy League institutions and their associates.[8]

In 2012, Newsweek ranked UChicago 5th for having happy students, 9th for academic rigor, and 12th for being stressful.[9]

In 2012, the QS World University Rankings ranked the University of Chicago as the 4th best institution of higher learning in the United States, after MIT, Harvard, and Yale, as well as 8th in the entire world.[10]

In addition, College Crunch, an online college admissions resource, ranked the University of Chicago as 1st in the country among colleges and universities for its undergraduate college.[11]

The University also has the highest SAT ranges for admitted students of any school in the nation. For the class of 2015, the middle 50% range for combined math and reading SAT scores was 1420-1530.[12]

Up until the 2007-2008 admissions cycle the school exclusively used a self-dubbed "Uncommon Application", and did not accept the more popular, nationalized Common Application, which can be sent to multiple institutions, for collegiate admissions. However, in 2009, the school adopted the Common Application and included a supplement that kept the spirit of the Uncommon Application.[13] The cornerstone of the previously used Uncommon Application and the current supplement is a unique set of essay questions that have attracted a lot of attention for the school.[14] Prompts have ranged from the bizarre, “Write an essay somehow inspired by super-huge mustard,” to intentionally vague prompts such as "Find X" to esoteric quotes by famous individuals such as "mind that does not stick" - Zen Master Shoitsu (in this prompt, only the quote was provided; no question was asked).[15] In the 2011-2012 season, there was a question that referenced a game in which students use Wikipedia to draw connections between seemingly unrelated things: "What does Play-Doh have to do with Plato?"[16]

The school's acceptance rate fell to a record low of 7.8% for the class of 2019.[17] In comparison, the acceptance rate was 8.4% for the class of 2018.[18] The yield also hit a record-high 60.3% for the class of 2018, topping schools such as Dartmouth, Brown, and Cornell.


The college offers 52 majors (originally called 'concentrations,' but changed in 2004). A primary departmental or committee affiliation is denoted for those whose names differ from that of their field designation. A student is awarded either the A.B. or S.B. degree. The college notably does not offer majors in pre-professional areas such as engineering (with the exception of the newly introduced Molecular Engineering program) or finance; however, the school contends that students going on to graduate study in these fields often can select work in related areas such as physics or economics in order to receive adequate preparation within the liberal arts tradition. The college recently introduced minors in a select numbers of fields, and also offers several joint bachelors / masters programs to high performing students in a variety of subjects.

Core curriculum[edit]

The University of Chicago requires all undergraduates to fulfill the Common Core, which demands work across all areas of the liberal arts for both A.B. and B.S. concentrators, albeit in a form reduced from the Hutchins era.[19] Currently, 15 courses are required in addition to tested foreign language proficiency (one year of de novo study being expected as preparation) if no Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate examinations are used for exemption (a reduction of six credits, or two full-time quarters, may be achieved via this method). While the science curriculum has largely followed the intellectual evolution of its respective fields, the requisite humanities and social science sequences now have several variants that encompass non-Western, non-canonical, and critical theory texts. This is a departure from the school’s traditional ties to texts of the European tradition such as Plato and Locke. While in totality the core curriculum’s goal is to impart an education that is both timeless and a vehicle for interdisciplinary debate, the increasing number of options to students within its confines produces a wide variety of backgrounds amongst graduates.


The College often publishes literature that emphasizes the “life of the mind,” drawing attention to the school’s serious academic environment. Alternatively, a popular phrase with students is “where fun comes to die,” describing the school's lack of a stereotypical college party culture. Efforts in the 1990s, under President Hugo F. Sonnenschein to change some of these perceptions of the College were controversial,[20] though ultimately successful.

Although Greek life is not predominant among the undergraduate population, there are several active fraternities and sororities that have established histories with the College, including Alpha Delta Phi, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Delta Upsilon, Lambda Phi Epsilon, Phi Gamma Delta, Zeta Psi, Psi Upsilon and Sigma Chi fraternities, as well as alpha Kappa Delta Phi, Alpha Omicron Pi, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Pi Beta Phi sororities.[21] The campus is also home to three coeducational professional Greek organizations, which are Alpha Phi Omega, a community service fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity, and Phi Alpha Delta, a pre-law fraternity, in addition to the Epsilon Club, a local social fraternity that was formerly the University of Chicago chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon.


  • Summer Breeze - The university's annual summer carnival and concert, held in mid-May. Past musicians who have performed at Summer Breeze include The Roots, Spoon, Wilco, Eminem, Kanye West, Run–D.M.C., Cake, Andrew Bird, They Might Be Giants, Method Man, Moby, Fuel, Nas, Jurassic 5, U2, Miles Davis, Sonic Youth, Talib Kweli, Violent Femmes, OK Go, Mos Def, George Clinton, and recently Santigold and Broken Social Scene.[22]
  • One-Dollar Shake Day - Milkshakes sell for only one dollar every Wednesday at the Reynolds Club.[22] The Einstein Bros. Bagels franchise was allowed to open on campus only after agreeing to adhere to this tradition, though with the 2017 closing of the Einstein Bagels location, dollar shakes will be moving to Hutchinson commons.
  • Midnight Breakfast - A midnight breakfast is held during every "finals week" of the academic year, attracting students and faculty members alike.[23]
  • Track Team Streak - Before "finals week" of the winter quarter, the University of Chicago track and cross country team streaks through the Regenstein Library.
  • O-Week - Every year since 1934, the University of Chicago has set time aside before classes begin to provide an introduction to the University for all new students.[24]
  • Lascivious Costume Ball - This event took place during the 1970–1984 period, and was a student-organized replacement of the Washington Promenade, a formal dance held in the winter since 1903, which annually crowned a Miss University of Chicago. Students would pay no fee if they came and uncloaked in the nude, a half-fee for wearing an appropriately lascivious (in the eyes of the students running the ball) costume, and full fee for remaining in "street clothes". The event was held in Ida Noyes Hall. It was formerly called the Sex Anarchy Party.[25] This event was reinstated in November 2008, instituted by the HYPE student organization, though exposed genitalia were no longer (officially) allowed.
  • Sleepout - Prior to 1993, undergraduate students would "sleep out" for classes with limited enrollment. The order of registration for classes was on a lottery basis, but in order for a student to keep his or her lottery number and avoid being reassigned to the end of the list, the student was required to physically remain on the campus quadrangle and present himself or herself at roll calls which were randomly and abruptly announced over the next few days. As a result, students would bring sleeping bags and tents and camp out on the quadrangle. Fraternities, sororities and other student groups would provide music and food, creating a festival atmosphere. The event terminated in 1993 when registration procedures changed.
  • Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko - A week-long festival celebrating Chicago in the winter. Often referred to as Kuvia, it entails a variety of events, including ice sculpting, hot chocolate get-togethers, musical performances, faculty fireside discussions, and a rigorous program of early morning exercise (kangeiko, a Japanese tradition of winter training) that culminates in a yoga-influenced "salute to the sun", performed outdoors in freezing temperatures just before the sun rises.[26] Kuviasungnerk/Kangeiko culminates in the Polar Bear Run on the Friday of the week, in which participants run, preferably naked or semi-naked, from one end of the main quad (Harper building) to the gates across from the Regenstein Library.
  • The Great Latke-Hamantash Debate - Since 1946, an annual debate has been held, mainly between faculty members - most (but not all) of whom are Jewish - about the relative merits of latkes and hamantashn. These two Jewish delicacies are associated with the holidays of Hanukkah and Purim, respectively. The lectures provide an opportunity for ordinarily serious scholars to crack jokes in a mock-serious tone. The best were collected in a book edited by Ruth Fredman Cernea. The event is currently sponsored by University of Chicago Hillel chapter and Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish fraternity.[27]
  • Virginio Ferrari's Dialogo and May Day. On May Day, students and residents of Hyde Park assemble near Pick Hall to watch the shadow cast by Virginio Ferrari's sculpture. Student legend holds that the sculpture casts a shadow that resembles a hammer and sickle on the sidewalk at noon on this day. In fact, the shadow produces an accurate sickle and an object in the position of the hammer, but the shape is not an exact copy of the symbol. Ferrari was first commissioned to build the sculpture to beautify what is now the new Economics building.[28]
  • Campus folklore - According to a common superstition among university students, stepping on University Seal (located in the main lobby of the Reynolds Club) as an undergraduate will prevent the student from graduating in four years.[29] Another common superstition about the university is that nearly 50% of its students marry each other; a commonly stated, but unverified fact is that if two students date each other for more than three months, there is an 80% chance that they will marry. Finally, if two students kiss on the bridge over the pond inside the main gates of the campus, it is said they will be destined to wed each other.

Scavenger Hunt[edit]

Main article: University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt

The annual University of Chicago Scavenger Hunt is a multi-day event in which large teams compete to obtain all of the notoriously esoteric items on a list. Held every May since 1987, it is considered to be the largest scavenger hunt in the world.[30] Established by student Chris Straus, "Scav" (as it is known among University students) has become one of the university's most popular traditions and has typically pushed the boundaries of absurdity. Each year, the list includes roughly 300 items, each with an assigned point value; the items vary widely, and often include performances, large-scale construction, technological construction, competition, and travel, as well as the traditional "find this item" listings. Most teams fall well short of completing half of the list and instead compete for total points amassed. The more difficult and time-consuming items earn more points, and teams typically devote more resources into these items.

Student organizations[edit]

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 Chicago Debate Society has had a top four team at the American Parliamentary Debate Association's National Championship tournament four out of the past five years. The University's competitive Model United Nations team was the top ranked team in North America in 2013-14, 2014-15, and Fall 2015. The Model UN community also hosts two major conferences per year: MUNUC (Model United Nations at the University of Chicago), held in February for high school students, and ChoMUN (Chicago Model United Nations), held in April for college students. Another notable organization is the Chicago Society, established in 2001. Chicago Society invites world-renowned speakers on a variety of issues and topics to campus. Recent invitees have included Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Steven Levitt, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, and Anwar Ibrahim. Their events have appeared in newspapers around the world.

The university's independent student newspaper is the Chicago Maroon. Founded in 1892, the same year as the university, the newspaper is published every Tuesday and Friday. South Side Weekly is a student-run alternative weekly covering issues and arts on the South Side of Chicago.

Undergraduates publish a number of periodicals as well, including Sliced Bread, an annual arts and literature publication and the University's largest magazine, The Chicago Shady Dealer, a humor magazine, Vita Excolatur, an erotic magazine, and Euphony, a literary journal.

The University of Chicago's University Theater is one of the oldest student-run theatre organizations in the country, involving as many as 500 members of the university community, producing 30 to 35 shows a year, and selling on the order of 10,000 tickets. It also operates Off-Off Campus, one of the University's two improv comedy troupes, started in 1986 by Bernard Sahlins, one of the founders of The Second City.

WHPK, a student-run and University-owned radio station, broadcasts out of the Reynolds Club on the university campus. DJ "JP Chill" has had a rap and hip hop show on WHPK since 1986. It was one of the earliest rap shows in the country and the first in Chicago.

The administration has controversially worked to combat the university's reputation as a place "where fun comes to die", which some claim have discouraged top students from taking the university into serious consideration when researching colleges.

The university also hosts Doc Films, the country's oldest student-run film society.


The school's NCAADivision III teams, most of which are members of the University Athletic Association, are not a major focus on campus today, appearing almost “minimal” in their role on campus to “non-existent” according to students.[31] However, in the first half of the twentieth century, the school was a powerhouse in Big Ten Conference play, notably in football where the school won numerous national championships, and produced the very first Heisman Trophy winner, Jay Berwanger. President Robert Maynard Hutchins suspended sports for several years though during his tenure fearing their digressive nature from academic endeavors, ending the prominence of most athletic programs. Today the many programs aim to cultivate the “student-athlete,” the emphasis being on balance between the two. Varsity sports offered are baseball, football and wrestling for men, softball and volleyball for women, and basketball, cross country, soccer, swimming, tennis and track and field for both men and women.

House system[edit]

The college employs a house system whereby undergraduates living in dormitories are assigned to a block of students of usually no more than 70 which serves as a focal point for university events.[32] Most campus dormitories contain multiple houses, though Stony Island has only one, the eponymous Stony Island House. Each building is overseen by a resident master, and should there be more than one house, each a resident head. One or two upper division undergraduates are then selected to serve in addition as resident assistants for each house. All first years are required to live in housing, however, the availability of affordable, off campus apartments makes them a popular option with a sizable segment of the student body. Moreover, students are free to bid or request switches amid houses both between academic years and during them. The current buildings and attendant houses of the college are:

  • Burton-Judson Courts (Chamberlin, Coulter, Dodd-Mead, Linn-Mathews, Salisbury, Vincent)
  • Campus North Residential Commons (Behar, Boyer, Dougan-Niklason, Rogers, Strongin, Thangaraj, Trott, Yuen)
  • International House (Booth, Breckinridge, Phoenix, Shorey, Thompson)
  • Max Palevsky Residential Commons (Alper, Flint, Graham, Hoover, May, Rickert, Wallace, Woodward)
  • Snell-Hitchcock Hall (Snell, Hitchcock)
  • Granville-Grossman Residential Commons (formerly South Campus) (Cathey, Crown, DelGiorno, Halperin, Jannotta, Keller, Kenwood, Wendt)
  • Stony Island Hall (its eponymous house)


Many offices and classes of the College are located in the heart of the campus.
Summer Breeze, the University of Chicago's annual spring concert, typically attracts thousands of students. In 2006, George Clinton (pictured) headlined Summer Breeze.
Campus lights illuminate the Bartlett Quadrangle.

For the public university in the University of Illinois System, see University of Illinois at Chicago.

The University of Chicago (UChi, U of C, Chicago, or UChicago) is a privateresearch university in Chicago, Illinois. It holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.[7][8][9][10]

The university is composed of the College, various graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees organized into five 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 Booth School of Business, the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the Divinity School and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The university currently enrolls 5,971 undergraduate students, and 16,016 students overall.[11]

University of Chicago scholars have played a major role in the development of many academic disciplines, including sociology,[12] law,[13] economics,[14] literary criticism,[15] religion[16] and the behavioralism school of political science.[17] Chicago's physics department and the Met Lab helped develop the world's first man-made, self-sustainingnuclear reaction (Chicago Pile-1) beneath the viewing stands of university's Stagg Field, a key part of the classified Manhattan Project effort of World War II.[18] The university research efforts include administration of the prestigious Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory 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.[19] With an estimated completion date of 2020, the Barack Obama Presidential Center will be housed at the university and include both the Obama presidential library and offices of the Obama Foundation.[20]

The University of Chicago has many prominent alumni, faculty members and researchers. 92 Nobel laureates[21] have been affiliated with the university as professors, students, faculty, or staff, making it the fifth most of any institution in the world. Similarly, 34 faculty members and 17 alumni have been awarded the MacArthur "Genius Grant".[22] In addition, Chicago's alumni and faculty include 53 Rhodes Scholars,[23] 25 Marshall Scholars,[24]9 Fields Medalists,[25] 20 National Humanities Medalists,[26] 16 billionaire graduates and a plethora of members of the United States Congress and heads of state of countries all over the world.[27]


Main article: History of the University of Chicago

Early years[edit]

Further information: Old University of Chicago

The University of Chicago was incorporated as a coeducational[28] institution in 1890 by the American Baptist Education Society, using $400,000 donated to the ABES to match a $600,000 donation from Baptist oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller[29], and including land donated by Marshall Field.[30] 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 Hyde Park 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.[31] The university's Articles of Incorporation provided that the President and two-thirds of the Trustees must be members of "regular Baptist churches", on penalty of losing that part of the land purchased by the ABES, though this requirement was reduced in 1922 to requiring that 3/5 of the trustees must be members of Baptist churches.[32]

The Hyde Park campus continued the legacy, and name of the original Baptist university of the same name, which had closed in 1886 after its campus was foreclosed on.[33] What became known as the Old University of Chicago had been founded by a small group of Baptist educators in 1856 through a land endowment from Senator Stephen A. Douglas. It closed in 1886.[34] Alumni from the Old University of Chicago are recognized as alumni of the present University of Chicago. [35] The university's depiction on its Coat of Arms of a Phoenix rising from the ashes is a reference to the fire, foreclosure, and demolition of the Old University of Chicago campus.[36] As an homage to this pre-1890 legacy, a single stone from the rubble of the original Douglas Hall on 34th Place was brought to the current Hyde Park location and set into the wall of the Classics Building. These connections have led the Dean of the College and University of Chicago and Professor of History John Boyer to conclude that the University of Chicago has, "a plausible genealogy as a pre–Civil War institution".[37]

William Rainey Harper became the university's president on July 1, 1891 and the Hyde Park campus opened for classes on October 1, 1892.[33] Harper worked on building up the faculty and in two years he had a faculty of 120, including eight former university or college presidents.[38] Harper was an accomplished scholar (Semiticist) and a member of the Baptist clergy who believed that a great university should maintain the study of faith as a central focus, to prepare students for careers in teaching and research and ministers for service to the church and community.[39] As per this commitment, he brought the University of Chicago's Seminary to Hyde Park which had remained continually in operation after the loss of the Bronzeville campus through the Baptist Theological Union in Morgan Park. This became the Divinity School in 1891, the first professional school at the University of Chicago.[40]

Harper recruited acclaimed Yale baseball and football player Amos Alonzo Stagg from the Young Men's Christian Association training Shool at Springfield to coach the school's football program. Stagg was given a position on the faculty, the first such athletic position in the United States. While coaching at the University, Stagg invented the numbered football jersey, the huddle, and the lighted playing field. Stagg is the namesake of the university's Stagg Field.[41]

The business school was founded thereafter in 1898[42] and the law school was founded in 1902.[43] Harper died in 1906[44] and was replaced by a succession of three presidents whose tenures lasted until 1929.[45] During this period, the Oriental Institute was founded to support and interpret archeological work in what was then called the Near East.[46]

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.[47]


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,[48] instituted the undergraduate college's liberal-arts curriculum known as the Common Core,[49] and organized the university's graduate work into four divisions.[48] In 1933, Hutchins proposed an unsuccessful plan to merge the University of Chicago and Northwestern University into a single university.[50] During his term, the University of Chicago Hospitals (now called the University of Chicago Medical Center) finished construction and enrolled their first medical students.[51] Also, the Committee on Social Thought, an institution distinctive of the university, was created.

Money that had been raised during the 1920s and financial backing from the Rockefeller Foundation helped the school to survive through the Great Depression.[48] During World War II, the university made important contributions to the Manhattan Project.[52] 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.[52][53]

It has been noted that the University of Chicago did not provide standard oversight regarding Bruno Bettelheim and his tenure as director of the Orthogenic School for Disturbed Children from 1944 to 1973.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60]

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.[61] 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 then-freshman Bernie Sanders helped lead a 15-day sit-in at the college's administration building 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."[62] 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.[63]

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,[64] the most severe response to student occupations of any American university during the student movement.[65]

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.[66]


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.[67]

From the mid-2000s, the university began a number of multimillion-dollar expansion projects. In 2008, the University of Chicago announced plans to establish the Milton Friedman Institute, which attracted both support and controversy from faculty members and students.[68][69][70][71][72] 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.[73] In 2009, planning or construction on several new buildings, half of which cost $100 million or more, was underway.[74] 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.[75] In 2014 the University launched the public phase of a $4.5 billion fundraising campaign.[76] 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.[77]

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.[78]


The main campus of the University of Chicago consists of 217 acres (87.8 ha) in the Chicago neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Woodlawn, approximately eight miles (12 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.[79]

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.[81] The Main Quadrangles consist of six quadrangles, each surrounded by buildings, bordering one larger quadrangle.[82] 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.[81] (Mitchell Tower, for example, is modeled after Oxford's Magdalen Tower,[83] and the university Commons, Hutchinson Hall, replicates Christ Church Hall.[84])

After the 1940s, the Gothic style on campus began to give way to modern styles.[81] 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);[81] a series of arts buildings;[81] a building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the university's School of Social Service Administration,[81] 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.[85] Another master plan, designed in 1999 and updated in 2004,[86] produced the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center (2003),[86] the Max Palevsky Residential Commons (2001),[81]South Campus Residence Hall and dining commons (2009), a new children's hospital,[87] and other construction, expansions, and restorations.[88] 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.[89]Robie House, a Frank Lloyd Wright building acquired by the university in 1963, is also a National Historic Landmark,[90] as is room 405 of the George Herbert Jones Laboratory, where Glenn T. Seaborg and his team were the first to isolate plutonium.[91]Hitchcock Hall, an undergraduate dormitory, is on the National Register of Historic Places.[92]

  • Campus of the University of Chicago
  • Snell-Hitchcock, an undergraduate dormitory constructed in the early 20th century, is part of the Main Quadrangles.

  • The Henry Hinds Laboratory for Geophysical Sciences was built in 1969.[93]

Satellite campuses[edit]

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.[95] 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[edit]

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 55 members including the university President.[96] Directly beneath the President are the Provost, fourteen Vice Presidents (including the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Investment Officer, and Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services), the Directors of Argonne National Laboratory and Fermilab, the Secretary of the university, and the Student Ombudsperson.[97] As of May 2016[update], the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Joseph Neubauer,[98] 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. Isaacs was replaced as Provost in March 2016 by Daniel Diermeier.[99]

The university's endowment was the 12th largest among American educational institutions and state university systems in 2013[100] and as of 2015[update] was valued at $7.6 billion.[101] Part of President Zimmer's financial plan for the university has been an increase in accumulation of debt to finance large building projects.[102] This has drawn support and criticism from many in the university community.


The academic bodies of the University of Chicago consist of the College, five divisions of graduate research, six professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. The university also contains a library system, the University of Chicago Press, and the University of Chicago Medical Center, and holds ties with a number of independent academic institutions, including Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Argonne National Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory. The university is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.[103]

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).[104] Full-time undergraduate students take three to four courses every quarter[105] for approximately eleven weeks before their quarterly academic breaks. The school year typically begins in late September and ends in mid-June.[104]

Undergraduate college[edit]

Main article: College of the University of Chicago

The College of the University of Chicago grants Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees in 51 academic majors[106] and 33 minors.[107] 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.[108] 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.[109]

Undergraduate students are required to take a distribution of courses to satisfy the university's general education requirements, commonly known as the Common Core. In 2012–2013, the Core classes at Chicago were limited to 17 courses, and are generally led by a full-time professor (as opposed to a teaching assistant).[110] As of the 2013–2014 school year, 15 courses and demonstrated proficiency in a foreign language are required under the Core.[111] 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."[112]

Graduate schools and committees[edit]

The university graduate schools and committees are divided into five divisions: Biological Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Institute for Molecular Engineering.[113] In the autumn quarter of 2015, the university enrolled 3,588 graduate students: 438 in the Biological Sciences Division, 801 in the Humanities Division, 1,102 in the Physical Sciences Division, 1,165 in the Social Sciences Division, and 52 in the Institute for Molecular Engineering.[114]

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

Professional schools[edit]

The university contains seven professional schools: the Pritzker School of Medicine, the 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, and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. The Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies offers non-degree courses and certificates as well as degree programs.[115]

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.[103]

Associated academic institutions[edit]

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),[116] the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School (a residential treatment program for those with behavioral and emotional problems),[117] and a public charter school with four campuses on the South Side of Chicago administered by the university's Urban Education Institute.[118] In addition, the Hyde Park Day School, a school for students with learning disabilities, maintains a location on the University of Chicago campus.[119] 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.[120] The university runs a program called the Council on Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences, which administers interdisciplinary workshops to provide a forum for graduate students, faculty, and visiting scholars to present scholarly work in progress.[121] The university also operates the University of Chicago Press, the largest university press in the United States.[122]

Controversies surrounding Bettelheim[edit]

Bruno Bettelheim was the director of the Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School from 1944 to 1973. After his death, it was revealed that his degree was either in art history or philosophy (aesthetics).[123][57] He had only taken three introductory courses in psychology.[123]

Although Bettelheim insisted in print that one should never hit children, there are multiple reports that he frequently hit residential students at the school.[56][124] Counselors at the school tended to perceive the use of corporal punishment, whereas many students perceived rage and out-of-control violence.[55][58][125][126][127] Richard Pollak's biography of Bettelheim contains reports from two separate women that he fondled their breasts and those of other female students while apologizing for beatings.[59][128]

A September 10, 1990 Newsweek article stated: "There are indications that at least the local psychiatric community knew exactly what was going on, and did nothing. Chicago analysts scathingly referred to the doctor as 'Beno Brutalheim.'"[129][130] In an April 4, 1991, letter to the Chicago Reader, former student Alida Jatich (1966–72) asked, "Who are these analysts? Why didn't they warn the university and our parents? Why are they still keeping silent?"[54]

In a 1990 Chicago Tribune article, Ralph Tyler, who first brought Bettelheim to the University of Chicago, said he assumed Bettelheim had two PhD's, one in art history and the other in psychology. The university's official biography of Bettelheim in 1990 only credited him with one PhD and did not specify the field.[56] In a 1997 article in First Things, author Molly Finn wrote, "It is possible to believe that soon after the war the University of Chicago might have had some difficulty in readily verifying the information Bettelheim presented in his falsified curriculum vitae. But it is deplorable that the institution supported Bettelheim's work without ever setting up the oversight committee or board of visitors it usually appointed. The University of Chicago never held Bettelheim accountable for anything he did or claimed to do."[60]

Library system[edit]

The University of Chicago Library system encompasses six libraries that contain a total of 11 million volumes, the 9th most among library systems in the United States.[131] 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 automated book storage and retrieval system. The John Crerar Library contains more than 1.4 million volumes in the biological, medical and physical sciences and collections in general science and the philosophy and history of science, medicine, and technology.[132] 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.[133]

An early convocation ceremony at the University of Chicago.
Some of the University of Chicago team that worked on the production of the world's first human-caused self-sustaining nuclear reaction, including Enrico Fermi in the front row and Leó Szilárd in the second.
Aerial shots from the University of Chicago campus.
Many older buildings of the University of Chicago employ Collegiate Gothic architecture like that of the University of Oxford. For example, Chicago's Mitchell Tower (left) was modeled after Oxford's Magdalen Tower (right).
The University of Chicago Main Quadrangles, looking north.
Harper Memorial Library was dedicated in 1912 and takes inspiration from various colleges in England.
Eckhart Hall houses the university's math department.
The University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private day school run by the university.
University of Chicago, Harper Library.

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