Located in the community of Hyde Park on Chicago’s South Side, just 15 minutes from the city center, the University of Chicago is uniquely positioned to contribute to, and draw from, the strength and diversity of this world-class metropolis. We have also made an indelible mark on the world at large.
Changing the World
Our faculty and students are pioneers, discoverers, teachers, scholars, and change agents. We ask tough questions, engage the world around us, and pursue knowledge with rigor because we believe in the transformative power of ideas.
Our undergraduate program is known for its emphasis on critical thinking and broad interdisciplinary exposure to the full range of intellectual discovery. Our College classrooms have a reputation for being hotbeds of exhilarating discourse. Discussions that start in the classroom often move to the dormitory hall, to the lunch table, and into the community. A Chicago education is a life-changing experience.
Creating New Disciplines
As the nation’s celebrated teacher of teachers, we place particular emphasis at the graduate level on the training of students for careers in academia and research. Committed to scholarship of the highest order, our faculty has made major contributions to existing bodies of knowledge and to the creation of new fields of study. Chicago scholars seek to break down artificial disciplinary barriers and frequently explore research and coursework outside their selected fields. We have long thrived in an atmosphere of free and open inquiry, which has led to classic studies of literary criticism and urban sociology, the development of ecology, and the study of religions as an academic field.
If the first faculty had met in a tent, this still would have been a great university,” said President Robert Maynard Hutchins, the University’s fifth president, in his 1929 inaugural address.
The first faculty assembled on Opening Day, 1892, were indeed an impressive bunch: lured from colleges all over the country, they had been drawn to Chicago by the idea of a community of great scholars. As Charles O. Whitman, who left Clark University to head the biology department at the new institution, enthusiastically put it, “The time has now come when we must recognize and live up to the necessity for greater organic unity among kindred sciences.”
‘Bran Splinter New’
William Rainey Harper, the University’s first president, envisioned a university that was “‘bran splinter new,’ yet as solid as the ancient hills”—a modern research university, combining an English-style undergraduate college and a German-style graduate research institute. The University of Chicago fulfilled Harper’s dream, quickly becoming a national leader in higher education and research: an institution of scholars unafraid to cross boundaries, share ideas, and ask difficult questions.