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Chicago Undergraduate Division: 1946-1965, part 3



It did not take long for a movement to grow to make CUD something more than a temporary, two-year branch university. Faculty developed new lower division courses. Dean Caveny publicly criticized the cramped conditions and made requests to offer third year coursework. Then during the summer of 1949, the University closed the Galesburg branch campus, established at the same time as the Navy Pier campus, after its enrollment dropped. Enrollment at the Chicago campus remained high, however, even though the period of veterans crisis was past. There were other indicators of permanence as well. Later in 1949, the board of trustees accepted the donation of two book collections to form a special Art and Architecture Reading Room in the library. That same year, students voted to increase their activity fees by two dollars, from four dollars to six, to start up a football team.

Determining the fate of the Chicago Undergraduate Division rested partly in the hands of George D. Stoddard, who became University President in 1946. A psychologist, Stoddard had previously been president of the University of the State of New York and New York commissioner of education. He was a strong proponent of the “tertiary education movement,” which called for expanding vocational education to include some traditional liberal arts education, but to distinguish this from research-oriented education; under his direction, New York established five “institutes of applied arts and science.” Considered the University of Illinois a “sleeping giant,” when Stoddard became president, his primary goal was to build the Urbana-Champaign campus into a world-class research institution. He thought that CUD served the function of an applied arts and science institute. If a permanent, four-year campus in Chicago were to grow, he wanted it to emerge from the research foundation of the U of I Medical Center.

George D. Stoddard with Board of Trustees President Park Livingston. George D. Stoddard, right, with Board of Trustees President Park Livingston. UIUC photo.

Students signing the “Mile-long petition,” March 1953. “Mile-long petition,” March 1953. UIC photo.


Members of the "Quad Council" protesting for a comprehensive public university in Chicago. Members of the "Quad Council" protesting for a comprehensive public university. UIC photo.


In 1950, the board of trustees formally considered the future of CUD. They voted to continue the Navy Pier branch, but only as a two-year school. In response, students and faculty began agitating for a permanent university. The following year, the Illinois General Assembly passed House Bill 108 calling for the University to create a four-year college in Chicago, but the legislature did not appropriate the funds needed for the project. Frustrated, in March 1952, the “Quad Council,” a student organization formed to pressure the board and the state to expand the Navy Pier campus into a full university, began a “Mile-long petition.”

Faculty at CUD wanted to start offering upper division courses immediately and they prepared a proposal for the addition of these courses in the spring of 1953, at least as a pilot program. They intended that a degree-granting institution would extend the values underlying the education at Navy Pier – quality, cost effective, practical schooling for Chicago’s young people. A report written a few years later by CUD faculty likened a public urban university to the rural extension school. The contrast between the values expressed at Navy Pier and those of the University administration made confrontation inevitable. In May, Stoddard visited the Navy Pier campus and met with the faculty committee proposing a four-year institution. He told the faculty their proposal was one of “the strongest ways to kill off a magnificent four year University of Illinois in Chicago.” Speaking afterward to an agitated crowd of about 2,000 students, he challenged them to “come down to Urbana and see your campus,” adding, “It’s a good thing to get away from home when you’re going to college.” He continued: “We’ve waited 80 years to get the college we want in Chicago. Let’s wait four to six years and have a real campus.” Art professor John D. McNee, chair of the faculty council, was not impressed. He pointed out that many students could not afford to attend the downstate campus, and that more than 35% of the most qualified students at CUD went on to other institutions in the Chicago area. The following day, UIC faculty representatives traveled to Champaign-Urbana and presented their case for a four-year college directly to the board of trustees, who appointed a six-person committee to investigate their request. Two days after Stoddard's visit, the Illinois House of Representatives passed legislation creating a commission to work out plans with the University of Illinois for a four-year branch in Chicago.

Stoddard had become publicly embattled with several controversies in addition to the question of a Chicago campus, including the announcement of an unproven cure for cancer called Krebiozen made by the Vice President of the Chicago Professional Colleges, Andrew C. Ivy, and problems within the Commerce College in Urbana. On Friday night, July 24, 1953, at around 11:30pm, the board voted “no confidence” on President George Stoddard and accepted his resignation. After two years with an interim president, in 1955 the trustees chose David Dodds Henry as its next President. Henry came from Wayne State University in Detroit, where he had built a municipal college into a state-supported university. Part of his mandate at Illinois was to create a university in Chicago. The same year Henry was appointed, Chicagoans elected Richard J. Daley as their Mayor.

Since the Illinois General Assembly had already passed legislation in 1951 directing the University of Illinois to create a permanent Chicago campus, the critical issues remaining were to provide funds for the new university and select a site.




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