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Chicago Undergraduate Division: 1946-1965, part 2



Students at the "quad by the sea." Students at the "quad by the sea."

Even though CUD was a commuter campus in a grimy and overcrowded facility, students immediately began trying to establish a sense of campus life. They formed numerous clubs, such as the architect students, known as the “Archies,” the “I” Club, which tried to promote school spirit, and the Tall Illini. Dances were by far the most important social events. Each year students planned three to four major occasions, including the Spring Formal, Homecoming, and the Farmers’ Ball, complete with cornstalks, blue jeans, and square dancing. Students also held “Coke” dances on Friday afternoons, mixers in the gymnasium, and beard-growing contests.


C U D basketball team, 1951. Basketball team, 1951.

"Coke" Dance at Navy Pier, 1951. "Coke" Dance.

By December 1946, the University had allocated $2,500 for intramural athletics – basketball, volleyball, badminton, wrestling and so forth. The following spring, CUD agreed to compete in a variety of intercollegiate sports, adding to student life and even provided a sense of campus independence. In November 1947, the Pier basketball team began formal competition, playing home games in the Pier gymnasium, which seated 3,000 fans. During the mid 1950s, the team had a number of outstanding seasons, posting a 15-2 record in 1954-55. The men’s gymnastic team won the National Championship in 1948-49. That same year, students petitioned to add football to their inter-collegiate activities. The Chi-Illini (including its own mascot) went 2-3 in its first season. The following year, Navy Pier held its first homecoming, with a parade of floats. Unfortunately, the UIC team lost the game 27 to 0 – its only loss of the season – against a team of ringers from Great Lakes Naval Training Center.




Academics at the campus were organized into three divisions: Liberal Arts and Sciences, Commerce and Business Administration, and Engineering. Because of the haste to establish the Navy Pier campus, many details were not thoroughly planned, such as the relative autonomy of the new campus, its mission, or even how long the “temporary” campus would last. The University initially chose faculty from Urbana as deans for the three divisions. It emphasized technical, engineering, needs-based education, consistent with the Navy’s program and other training institutes in the city. Most CUD departments were also required to use Urbana’s curriculum. Despite these restrictions, Chicago faculty set rigorous standards, striving to produce students who would surpass their Urbana counterparts. During the first few years, upwards of 40 percent of the freshmen class failed.
Amateur radio club broadcasting from the W C F L station located in the Pier's north tower, 1951. Amateur radio club broadcasting from the WCFL station located in the Pier's north tower, 1951.
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