The University of Chicago Centennial CataloguesThe University of Chicago FacultyLife on the QuadsUniversity and the CityThe Presidents of the University
The Presidents of
the University of Chicago

A Centennial View
page 2 of 4| « previous | next »

Robert M. Hutchins, Floyd W. Reeves, and John T. McCloy, University of Chicago Round Table, "Should We Have Military Training in Peacetime?" November 26, 1944.

Robert M. Hutchins, Floyd W. Reeves, and John T. McCloy, University of Chicago Round Table, "Should We Have Military Training in Peacetime?" November 26, 1944.

 

 

Hearings of Illinois Seditious Activities Commission, testimony of Robert M. Hutchins, April 21, 1949, p. 54.

Hearings of Illinois Seditious Activities Commission, testimony of Robert M. Hutchins, April 21, 1949, p. 54. Hutchins was grilled concerning suspicious political activities of faculty members, including Maud Slye, an emeritus professor of pathology who had spent most of her career in the laboratory studying the heredity of cancer in mice.

Robert Maynard Hutchins

1899-1977
Hutchins concluded that the legal rules were often based on faulty assumptions about human behavior, but also that psychologists had never studied the question in a useful way.

Compiling a list of candidates to succeed Max Mason after his resignation in 1928, the University of Chicago presidential search committee included Hutchins's name among other college presidents and deans. Although they sought someone young, between 35 and 50, Hutchins, then only 29, was soon dropped from the list. His name resurfaced as the winnowing process continued. Although Hutchins's talents were clear, some wondered if his experience and maturity were sufficient. After a long interview session, the committee was persuaded it was worth the gamble, and Hutchins was elected president in April 1929.

Hutchins gave 64 public addresses in his first year at the University, establishing a public presence and identity seldom equalled by a university president before or since. Appearing regularly on the radio, in the pages of popular magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post, as well as at convocations and alumni meetings, Hutchins personally represented in the popular mind the ideals of higher education as well as the particular programs of the University of Chicago

Hutchins arrived during a peak of activity on the University campus. Buildings begun under Burton and Mason were being completed, and departments were moving into new facilities. The new, immense University Chapel was finished only months before Hutchins's inauguration. Years of planning for a new undergraduate program were culminating in a "New Plan" which was nearly ready for unveiling. Hutchins endorsed the changes in the College and adopted them into his personal campaign to change American education.

The Chicago College eliminated grades and course requirements, replacing these with broad-based general education classes and a series of comprehensive exams. Hutchins advocated the relocation of the BA degree to the sophomore year of college, focusing the bachelor's degree on general or liberal education, and leaving specialization for the master's. This plan had been put forth by President Judson fifteen years earlier, and indeed harked back to Harper's plan for junior and senior colleges. Hutchins also became known for his emphasis on the "great books," through the evening courses he co-taught with Mortimer Adler and his support of the adult groups which mushroomed throughout the country in the 1940s, although the University never actually adopted the great books program into its curriculum.


page 2 of 4| « previous | next »
Home | The Faculty | The Quads | The City | The Presidents | Special Collections