The University of Chicago (U of C, UC, or simply UChicago) is a private, research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890. William Rainey Harper became the university's first president, in 1891, and the first classes were held in 1892. It has a reputation of devotion to academic scholarship and intellectualism and is affiliated with 49 Rhodes Scholars and 85 Nobel Prize laureates.
The University consists of the College of the University of Chicago, various graduate programs and interdisciplinary committees organized into four divisions, six professional schools, and a school of continuing education. The University enrolls approximately 5,000 students in the College and about 14,000 students overall.
In 2008, the University spent $423.7 million on scientific research. University of Chicago scholars have played a role in the development of the Chicago School of economics, the Chicago School of sociology, the law and economics movement in legal analysis, and the physics leading to the world's first man-made, self-sustaining nuclear reaction. The University is also home to the largest university press in the United States.
The University of Chicago was created and incorporated as a coeducational, secular institution in 1890 by the American Baptist Education Society and a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller. It emerged from a Baptist university of the same name that had closed in 1886 due to financial difficulties. William Rainey Harper became the modern University's first president on July 1, 1891, and the first classes were held on October 1, 1892.
The business school was founded in 1898, and the law school was founded in 1902. Harper died in 1906, and was replaced by a series of three presidents whose tenures lasted until 1929. During this period, the Oriental Institute was founded.
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 deemphasize athletics over academics, instituted the undergraduate college's liberal-arts curriculum known as the Common Core, and organized the University's graduate work into its current four divisions. In 1933, Hutchins proposed an unsuccessful plan to merge the University of Chicago and Northwestern University into a single university. During his term, the University of Chicago Hospitals (now called the University of Chicago Medical Center) finished construction and enrolled its first medical students, and the Committee on Social Thought 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. During World War II, the University made important contributions to the Manhattan Project. 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.
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. For details of this urban renewal effort, see Hyde Park.
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. 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, the most severe response to student occupations of any American university during the student movement.