The New Student's Reference Work/University of Chicago, The
University of Chicago, The, at Chicago, Ill., is the successor to a Baptist University of Chicago (1857-86) whose graduates are considered alumni of the present institution. The old college showed the interest of Chicago, from its youth, in higher education, and it did good work. When it died, Mr. John D. Rockefeller (q. v.) suggested to the American Baptist Educational Society that it be revived. Mr. Rockefeller himself contributed the greater part of the endowment, having in all given the new institution $23,924,322. Marshall Field (q. v.), S. A. Kent, Martin A. Ryerson, Miss Helen Culver, Mrs. Emmons Blaine and many other Chicagoans have donated over $3,000,000 more. Mr. Charles Yerkes contributed $300,000 for the erection of the university's observatory at Lake Geneva, Wis., and for placing the largest telescope in the world in it. The result was the organization of Chicago university. It was chartered in 1890, Dr. William R. Harper (q. v.) was called from Yale Divinity School to become its president, and teaching began on Oct. 1, 1892. The president and two thirds of the trustees must be Baptists, but the university is nondenominational as well as coëducational.
The university, in its organization, enjoyed every advantage that American ability and aspiration, the fullest educational experience and knowledge and the command of enormous financial resources could give. It was therefore planned on the broadest lines and with a special view to growth and change in the future, so that it shall, as far as men can foresee, adapt itself in every way to the demands of modern life as they arise. It therefore emphasized graduate study and research work; established study in summer as well as in autumn, winter and spring, thus adding 25% to the working year; gave an important place to university extension (q. v.); founded a system of affiliated colleges and schools whose students have special privileges in the university; and employed so large a corps of teachers that classes can be kept small, however many the students, and each individual receive personal attention. The university is organized into the five departments of schools, colleges and academies; university extension; libraries, laboratories and museums; the press; and affiliated schools. The first department includes schools of divinity, education, law, medicine and science, to which are to be added schools of fine arts, music and technology; colleges of arts, of commerce and administration, of literature, of science and University College; and numerous affiliated academies or preparatory schools. The divinity school includes five theological seminaries. The medical school has Rush Medical College affiliated with it. The commercial college teaches banking, journalism, trade and industry and transportation. University College is designed chiefly for teachers, and is conducted in the center of Chicago (q. v.) by the university. The university's extension offers courses by correspondence and lectures in the same subjects as the university itself, and the student who completes courses in the extension receives credit as a student in the university, which by means of this department comes into touch with the people and with public education.
The courses continue 12 weeks or six, each requiring four or five hours a week in the class. Teachers and others outside the university attend largely in summer, and every year more and more students themselves attend them. A few students reside in the houses of their societies, about a third in dormitories on the campus, but the greater part elsewhere in the city or in suburbs.
The grounds and buildings occupy a tract at 69th street (Midway Plaisance), between Jackson and Washington Parks, about seven miles from the heart of the city. The buildings, which are beautiful and very numerous, are in the English Gothic style of architecture, and grouped impressively on a plan of quadrangles. There are now 334 instructors and over 3,000 students. The requirements for admission are as severe as those of any American college or university, and the standard of scholarship is high. Consequently the university stands in the front rank of American schools of higher learning. The libraries number 461,385 volumes, exclusive of 170,000 pamphlets. In 1907 the productive funds were $12,974,211; the receipts from benefactions $5,926,989; and the income $1,222,353.