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A Centennial View
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Edward H. Levi and Hanna H. Gray at the Centennial alumni reunion, June 1992.

Edward H. Levi and Hanna H. Gray at the Centennial alumni reunion, June 1992.

 

 

Back flyleaf: Desk chair used by President William Rainey Harper

Back flyleaf: Desk chair used by President William Rainey Harper. Photograph by James L. Ballard.

Hanna Holborn Gray

1930-

The greatest danger, large because also least tangible and most wasting, would be to engage in an apparently principled descent to decent mediocrity.

Hanna Holborn Gray

Seeing graduate enrollments decline nationwide, Gray's administration made sweeping changes in PhD programs, reducing the time permitted to graduate, while initiating workshops and internships to broaden the activities and skills of students writing dissertations. After hitting a low point in 1981 or 1982, enrollments in the graduate divisions began to climb. Initiatives were also taken with the establishment of new ventures such as the Department of Computer Science, the Chicago Humanities Institute, and the Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies.

Applications to the undergraduate College increased, and enrollment grew by 28 percent between 1978 and 1991. In order to improve resources for student life, the University renovated recreational facilities at Ida Noyes Hall, created new student housing, joined a new athletic league formed with other rigorously academic institutions, and promoted activities such as the popular "Kuviasungnerk" winter festival. Long known for its "Common Core" program, the College revamped its curriculum to strengthen the two-year core class sequence required of all students.

Responding to changes in medical care and research, Gray led the separation of the hospitals from the University and their establishment as a corporation of which the University is the sole member. The five-year "Campaign for the Arts and Sciences" surpassed its goal of $150 million in 1987 while separate campaigns raised additional funds for the Graduate School of Business, Medical Center, and Law School. At the opening of the University's Centennial in 1991, a new $500 million campaign was announced. As many universities bemoaned declining enrollments and decreasing funds, Hanna Gray was able to continue reporting that the University of Chicago was in a "position of great strength."

After planning and presiding over a year-long celebration of the University's hundredth anniversary, Gray announced that she would retire at the end of June 1993, making her 15-year tenure as president the third longest, and one of the most productive, in the history of the University.

 


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