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Entries : Robert Maynard Hutchins and the University of Chicago
Robert Maynard Hutchins and the University of Chicago

Robert Maynard Hutchins and the University of Chicago

Robert Hutchins spent his adolescent years in Oberlin, where his father, a Presbyterian minister, taught in the School of Theology. After attending Oberlin for two years, he served in the U.S. Army Ambulance Corps (1917–1919), graduated from Yale, and became secretary of the Yale Corporation in 1923. In 1925 he graduated magna cum laude from the Yale Law School and was appointed acting dean and associate professor of the Law School two years later. At the age of 30, he became the president and ultimately chancellor of the University of Chicago, posts he held for over 20 years.

Hutchins's greatest contribution to higher education was his realization of a rigorous and unique program for undergraduates in which required acquaintance with the intellectual tradition and its methods took center stage. He placed learning at the center of college experience and in so doing challenged the elective system and the standards of other institutions. He fought for a separation between graduate and undergraduate curricula and was among the first to advocate earlier entrance to college. Under his watch, the University of Chicago became a unique community of scholars and learning, free of trivial trappings characteristic of other universities. After leaving the University of Chicago, Hutchins became the guiding force at the newly created Ford Foundation in the mid-1950s, headed the Fund for the Republic, and founded the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Santa Barbara, which he led until his death in 1977.