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.
The university, established in 1890, is composed of the College, various graduate programs, and interdisciplinary committees organized into five academic research divisions, six professional schools, and the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies. 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, and the Divinity School. The university currently enrolls approximately 5,700 students in the Collegeand 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, law and economics theory in legal analysis, the Chicago school of literary criticism, the Chicago school of religion, and the behavioralism school of political science. Chicago’s physics department helped develop the world’s first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction beneath the viewing stands of university’s Stagg Field. Chicago’s research pursuits are aided through its operation of world-renowned institutions, including the nearby Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (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. 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.
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. 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.
The University of Chicago has many prominent alumni. 89 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university as professors, students, faculty, or staff, the fourth most of any institution in the world. Similarly, 34 faculty members and 16 alumni have been awarded the MacArthur “Genius Grant”. In addition, Chicago’s alumni include 50 Rhodes Scholars, 22 Marshall Scholars, 9 Fields Medalists, 20 National Humanities Medalists, 13 billionaire graduates, and a plethora of members of the United States Congress and heads of state of countries all over the world.
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. 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. As of May 2016, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Joseph Neubauer, 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.
The university’s endowment was the 12th largest among American educational institutions and state university systems in 2013 and as of 2015 was valued at $7.6 billion. Part of President Zimmer’s financial plan for the university has been an increase in accumulation of debt to finance large building projects. This has drawn support and criticism from many in the university community.