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A Centennial View
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Science quadrangle, ca. 1984

Science quadrangle, ca. 1984. Construction of the John Crerar Library and the Samuel Kersten, Jr., Physics Teaching Center led to the landscaping of a new two-acre quadrangle on the west side of Ellis Avenue. Photograph copyright 1984 by Joseph Sterling.




Hanna H. and Charles M. Gray, June 1992

Hanna H. Gray and Charles M. Gray at the 426th convocation, June 1992.

Hanna Holborn Gray

Recognition of Gray's administrative acumen led to her being named dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University in 1972, one of many appointments she was to hold as the first woman in a position. While the press frequently mentioned these "firsts," in the academic world her work came to be recognized in its own right.

Gray's reputation as an administrator was enhanced at Yale during the period of budget cutting which many universities encountered in the late 1970s. While at Yale, she was provost and professor of history from 1974 to 1978, and she served as acting president for 14 months after Kingman Brewster left in 1977.

Returning to the University of Chicago in 1978 in a similar atmosphere of deficits and retrenchment, with balancing the budget one of her first tasks, Gray worked to strengthen the University's historical commitment to scholarship. The problems to be faced were real: erosion of material resources, inflation, changing demographic trends, shifting policies and attitudes of external sources of support, and narrowing opportunities for young scholars. But the greatest danger, she said in her inaugural address, "would be to engage in an apparently principled descent to decent mediocrity."

In the next few years she embarked on an ambitious building program, with equally ambitious plans to raise funds to support it. West of Ellis Avenue a new science quadrangle was constructed which included the John Crerar Library, incorporating the merged collections of the Crerar with the University's science holdings, and the Kersten Physics Teaching Center. The Bernard Mitchell Hospital and Arthur Rubloff Intensive Care Tower essentially replaced the 50-year-old Billings Hospital facilities for acute care. Several older buildings were renovated, while new facilities were constructed for the Law School library and Court Theatre.

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