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University of Chicago
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University of Chicago


©University of Chicago
Motto: Crescat scientia; vita excolatur. (Latin: Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched.)
Founded 1890
School type Private coeducational
President Don Michael Randel
Location Chicago, Illinois
Enrollment 4,100 undergraduates; 8,889 graduate and professional students
Campus surroundings Urban, park
Campus size 211 acres (850,000 m²)
Sports teams Maroons
Mascot Phoenix

Students by the Ryerson Physical Laboratory

The University of Chicago is one of the foremost research universities in the world. Barely a century old, the departments of Physics, Economics, Sociology, Linguistics, Political Science (Committee on Social Thought), International Studies (Committee on International Relations) as well as the schools of Jurisprudence and Business are considered among the best in the country. Scholars affiliated with the University have obtained a total of seventy-five Nobel Prizes (the most by any institution in the world except Cambridge University).

Located eight miles (13 km) south of the Loop in the Chicago neighborhoods of Hyde Park and Woodlawn, the University was founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller (of Standard Oil fame). The school was founded under Baptist auspices, but today lacks a sectarian affiliation. The school's traditions of rigorous scholarship were established by Presidents William Rainey Harper and Robert Maynard Hutchins.

The school's more important contributions to science include Robert Millikan's 1909 Oil-drop experiment, which determined the charge of the electron; the first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, carried out by Enrico Fermi and his colleagues as part of the Manhattan Project on December 2, 1942; and the Miller-Urey experiment in 1953, considered to be the classic experiment on the origin of life.

Different from other Universities, the school was first setup around a number of research institutions. The College or what we would today consider undergraduate education is a separate entity. As a result the graduate research and professional programs at the University dwarf undergraduate education (one of the reasons for the two-to-one ratio between graduate and undergraduate students). Today most faculty members are both professors in their Institutes and professors in the College, and the distinction is blurred.

The school is also known for its important contributions to modern sociology, economics, international relations, archaeology, philosophy, literary criticism, archeology, and paleontology. In many of these areas there developed in the latter half of the 20th century the "Chicago School of . . ." -- where many members of a department adopted a consistent and often radical approach to the study of each of these subjects. One of the great influences over many of the Chicago Schools was the neo-Aristotelian philosopher, Richard McKeon, whose intellectual rigor, in the context of the collegial atmosphere of the University that encouraged cross-departmental discussions, engendered a fresh look at the study of these subjects.

US News and World Report currently ranks the College at the University of Chicago 13th in the nation.(US News) The college applicants, according to The Princeton Review "also look at and often prefer" Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and Swarthmore College. Its professional schools also rank highly; the Graduate School of Business ranks 6th (US News), 2nd (Businessweek), 4th (Financial Times) and the Law School ranks 6th (US News).

The school's sports teams are called the Maroons. They participate in the NCAA's Division III and in the University Athletic Association. At one time, the University of Chicago's football teams were among the best in the country, but the school, a founding member of the Big Ten Conference, de-emphasized varsity athletics in 1939. In 1935, Chicago's Jay Berwanger was the winner of the first-ever Heisman Trophy.

The school's mascot is the Phoenix, so chosen for two reasons: in honor of Chicago's rebirth after the great fire and also in honor of the previous University of Chicago, which folded due to financial reasons (thus making this a second and far more glorious incarnation of the University).

One of the more famous traditions of the university is the annual Scavenger Hunt, a multiple day event that pits teams (often composed of hundreds) against each other with the goal of getting all of the 300-plus items on the list. The event was created by a resident of the Snell-Hitchcock dormitory in 1987 and Snell-Hitchcock dorm continues with a long history of victories including 2004's Hunt. So far, each year has also involved a lengthy road trip to find many of these items in obscure parts of the United States, involving treks as far as New Jersey, or as mind-bogglingly obtuse as Zion, Illinois (where students had to "flip the switch at the last city of man," a reference to the city of Zion in The Matrix). While items such as Michael Jordan have not appeared, in 1999 two students built a working nuclear reactor for Scavenger Hunt.

The University of Chicago Press is the largest university press in the country and publishes The Chicago Manual of Style, the definitive guide to American English usage. The University also operates a number of off-campus scientific research institutions, the best known of which is probably Fermilab, or the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, managed by the University of Chicago for the U.S. Department of Energy. The University also operates the Argonne National Laboratory, owns and operates Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, the Oriental Institute, and has a stake in Apache Point Observatory in Sunspot, New Mexico. The University is also a founding member of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation.

The university is also noted for its gothic architecture, imported from English universities at the school's foundings. More contemporary buildings have attempted to complement the style of the original buildings with mixed success. One of the most striking buildings is the brutalist Regenstein Library.

Some notable alumni of the University of Chicago

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