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The Presidents of
the University of Chicago

A Centennial View
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George W. Beadle collecting pollen from corn plants, 1948.

George W. Beadle collecting pollen from corn plants, 1948.

 

 

President Beadle speaking at a Congress of Racial Equality meeting, February 1962.

President Beadle speaking at a Congress of Racial Equality meeting, February 1962. After sit-ins were held in the Administration Building and at the office of University Realty Management, President Beadle met with 300 students in the Ida Noyes Hall theater to announce that further sit-ins were prohibited and that a committee would be formed to investigate CORE's charges of racial discrimination in Universityowned buildings. Photograph by Daniel Lyon.

George W. Beadle

1903-1989

Chancellor 1967
President 1961-1968
Professor of Biology 1961-1969
William E. Wrather Professor of Biology 1969-1975

Growth and turbulence marked the Beadle years, which were period of intense change for universities across the country. While strident calls were being made for universities to become centers for social and political action, the University of Chicago held steady to its traditional values of research and intellectual excellence, insisting that its role was to advance knowledge.

After the retrenchment of the Kimpton administration, George Wells Beadle presided over an impressive period of growth for the University. The faculty increased in numbers from 860 to 1080, full professors from 345 to 433, average salaries increased 50 percent, and total campus expenditures doubled. A three year development campaign reached its goal of $160 million. New buildings were constructed for high energy physics, astrophysics, the children's hospital, and the School of Social Service Administration; new facilities were planned for geophysics and life sciences. In many ways the Joseph Regenstein Library, built in the middle of the old football field, stood as a symbol of the University's highest goals, serving to assist basic research in many disciplines and to bring their resources under one roof.

Born near Wahoo, Nebraska, Beadle remained first to last a farmer at heart. In college he took up the new field of genetics, which was soon to revolutionize not only plant breeding but the entire understanding of biological reproduction. Along with Edward L. Tatum, he established the relationship between genes and enzymes in the bread mold Neurospora, which would earn him a Nobel prize. While president of the University of Chicago, he grew corn behind his house and in other plots near campus and was occasionally mistaken for a University gardener.


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