A Brief History


The University of Chicago was founded by John. D. Rockefeller in 1892 and was one of the first universities in the "uncultivated" Midwest. William Rainey Harper was its first president who wanted to combine the English style undergraduate college and the German style graduate research institution. He introduced a number of radical innovations to the university system, like the four quarter system, equal opportunity for women and minorities, and courses in the liberal arts for adults, to name a few.  Most importantly, he envisioned an institution that was primarily devoted to graduate studies!


Currently, there are approximately 4000 undergraduates and 8000 graduate and professional students attending the University of Chicago. Harper's innovations were greeted with amusement and ridicule; one kidder called the University "Harper's Bazaar." But when classes started in October of 1892, the University boasted a strong faculty, including eight former presidents of other colleges and universities.


Since then, seventy-three Nobel prize recipients have been University of Chicago students, researchers, or faculty members, including 14 in chemistry! Twelve faculty members have received the prestigious National Medal of Science, including Prof. Stuart Rice, a current faculty member of the Department of Chemistry, in 1999. The many discoveries made by these scholars and their colleagues include the first self-sustaining, nuclear chain reaction, Carbon-14 dating, discovery of the atmosphere's jet stream and REM sleep, establishment of the first bloodbank, and the nation's first living-donor liver transplant.


Perhaps one can see why John D. Rockefeller said of the University of Chicago: "It is the best investment I ever made."


See Also:

An introduction to the University

Interesting Facts and Figures

Scholars and discoveries this century

History Timeline