1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Chicago, University of

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CHICAGO, UNIVERSITY OF, one of the great educational institutions of the United States, established under Baptist auspices in the city of Chicago, and opened in 1892.[1] Though the president and two-thirds of the trustees are always Baptists, the university is non-sectarian except as regards its divinity school. An immense ambition and the extraordinary organizing ability shown by its first president, William R. Harper, determined and characterized the remarkable growth of the university's first decade of activity. The grounds include about 140 acres. Of these about 60 acres — given in part by Marshall Field and laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted — border the Midway Plaisance, connecting Washington and Jackson parks. On these grounds the main part of the university stands. The buildings are mostly of grey limestone, in Gothic style, and grouped in quadrangles. The Mitchell tower is a shortened reproduction of Magdalen tower, Oxford, and the University Commons, Hutchinson Hall, is a duplicate of Christ Church hall, Oxford. Dormitories accommodate about a fifth of the students. The quadrangles include clubs, dining halls, dormitories, gymnasiums, assembly halls, recitation halls, laboratories and libraries. In the first college year, 1892-1893, there were 698 students; in that of 1907-1908 there were 5038,[2] of whom 2186 were women. There are faculties of arts, literature, science, divinity,[3] medicine (organized in 1901), law (1902), education, and commerce and administration. The astronomical department, the Yerkes Observatory, is located on William's Bay, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, about 65 m. from Chicago. It has the largest refracting telescope in the world (clear aperture 40 in., focal length about 61 ft.). The Chicago Institute, founded and endowed by Mrs Anita McCormick Blaine as an independent normal school, became a part of the university in 1901. The school of education, as a whole, brings under university influence hundreds of children from kindergarten age upwards to young manhood and womanhood, apart from the university classes proper. Chicago was the second university of the country . to give its pedagogical department such scope in the union of theory and practice. The nucleus of the library (450,000 volumes in 1908) was purchased in Berlin soon after the university's organization, in one great collection of 175,000 volumes. Scholarly research has been fostered in every possible way, and the university press has been active in the publication of various departmental series and the following periodicals: — Biblical World, American Journal of Theology, American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, American Journal of Sociology, Journal of Political Economy, Modern Philology, Classical Philology, Classical Journal, Journal of Geology, Astrophysical Journal, Botanical Gazette, Elementary School Teacher and School Review. The courses in the College of Commerce and Administration link the university closely with practical life. In extension work the university has been active from the beginning, instruction being given not only by lectures but by correspondence (a novel and unique feature among American universities); in the decade 1892-1902, 1715 persons were prepared by the latter method for matriculation in the university (11.6% of the total number of matriculants in the decade). Extension lectures were given in twenty-two states. At Chicago the work of the university is continuous throughout the year: the “summer quarter” is not as in other American schools a supplement to the teaching year, but an integral part; and it attracts the teachers of the middle western states and of the south. In the work of the first two years, known together as the Junior College, men and women are in the main given separate instruction; but in the Senior College years unrestricted coeducation prevails. Students are mainly controlled by self-government in small groups (“the house system”). Relations with “affiliated” (private) colleges and academies and “coöperating ” (public) high-schools also present interesting features.

The value of the property of the university in 1908 was about $25,578,000. Up to the 30th of June 1908 it had received from gifts actually paid $29,651,849, of which $22,712,631 were given by John D. Rockefeller.[4] The value of buildings in 1908 was $4,508,202, of grounds $4,406,191, and of productive funds $14,186,235. Upon the death of President Harper, Harry Pratt Judson (b. 1849), then head professor of political science and dean of the faculties of arts, became acting president, and on the 20th of January 1907 he was elected president.

See the Decennial Publications of the University (since 1903), especially vol. i. for details of history and administration.


  1. A small Baptist college of the same name — established in 1855 on land given by S. A. Douglas — went out of existence in 1886.
  2. If, however, the total is reckoned on the basis of nine months, of residence the figure for 1907-1908 would be 3202.
  3. The Divinity School has a graduate department and three undergraduate departments, doing work in English, in Danish and Norwegian, and in Swedish. Allied with the Divinity School of the University is the “Disciples' Divinity House” (1894), a theological school of the Disciples of Christ.
  4. The words “founded by John D. Rockefeller” follow the title of the university on all its letterheads and official documents. Mr Rockefeller would not allow his name to be a part of the title, nor has he permitted the designation of any building by his name. President Harper was selected by him to organize the university, and it was his will that the president and two-thirds of the trustees should be “always” Baptists. President Harper more than once stated most categorically that contrary to prevalent beliefs no donor of funds to the university “has ever (1902) by a single word or act indicated his dissatisfaction with the instruction given to students in the university, or with the public expression of opinion made by any officer of the university”; and certainly so far as the public press reveals, no other university of the country has had so many professors who have in various lines, including economics, expressed radical views in public.