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UChicago over the next 10 years

grreatgrreat Registered User Posts: 19 Junior Member
Hi all,

I'm curious as to hearing your thoughts on where the University of Chicago might settle over the decade, given the many changes happening recently at the university that give it such a dynamic reputation. Will it solidify its top-3 ranking and become more closely associated with HYPS? Or is this recent recognition just a fluke that has resulted from the university finally playing the system, and it will eventually settle in its place somewhere in the top-10 but not in that ultra-elite echelon?

On the one hand, the recent shift to increasing marketability and creating a funner environment seems to suggest more prospective student interest and competitive admissions. The upcoming association with the Obama foundation might also increase UChicago's public prestige.

On the other hand, it's difficult for UChicago to compete financially with HYPS e.g. it seems unlikely that UChicago will be able to follow Stanford into making every department absolutely top-notch (something that Stanford was able to do with its Silicon Valley wealth to join the traditional elite which UChicago will likely not be able to replicate).

So, whither UChicago?

Replies to: UChicago over the next 10 years

  • f77a9b82f77a9b82 Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    Its certainly been a meteoric rise. But the endowment has not kept up to pace with the USNWR rankings. In terms of raw numbers, UChicago places 17th in terms of endowment. Far behind its academic peers. UChicago is definitely on an upward swing, but has a long way to compete financially with HYPS.

    But the environment overall does appear to be changing. In 10 years from now, I imagine the selectivity will only be higher.
  • f77a9b82f77a9b82 Registered User Posts: 60 Junior Member
    Forgot to add one other thing:

    Other schools will certainly try to emulate Nondorf's success. In particular I imagine a binding ED2 will soon become the norm for top 10 schools outside of HYPS. This is a really great way to lock in half of the class and measurably control the financial aid budget.
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 1,024 Senior Member
    The only fly in the ointment is endowment. But even here, they are making some steady progress, and happier undergrads will ultimately result in more contributions. In the meantime, I suspect that, with the exception of very capital intensive fields (e.g, medicine), UChicago will solidify its positions and eminence or pre-eminence, especially in economics, business, law and generally the social sciences and humanities as well as math and stats. While it will be impossible to overtake Harvard or Stanford, except perhaps in a discrete field here and there, UChicago certainly will continue to be an elite top tier school.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,985 Senior Member
    The future is hardly certain for anyone. Where is Yale going to be 10 years from now? Princeton? Dartmouth?

    There's a lot of churn going on. I think now, and for the foreseeable future (which may not be as long as 10 years), there are really only two comprehensive, dominating American universities, Harvard and Stanford. Then there's a set of private universities of equal or equivalent quality in the areas they cover (or most of them), but they're not as strong across the board. That's Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Penn, and, yes, definitely Chicago. Maybe Brown and Duke, maybe Cornell. Chicago needs to get on stronger financial footing to stay in that group, but it's easier to change that than to change where Cornell or Princeton or Yale is located.
  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,410 Senior Member
    edited May 1
    To build on what @JHS said: we are in the era of the comprehensive, dominating (usually private, usually urban) American university. The two standard-bearers are clearly Harvard and Stanford.

    Further, fundraising and investment in capital-intensive enterprises (like medicine, engineering, etc.) will continue to be huge driving forces for top research Us.

    In this light, I think Chicago will drop a bit in the pace to be a dominant, comprehensive, research powerhouse. The flagships will continue to be Harvard and Stanford, and the second group would be Yale, Columbia and U. of Penn, with Duke and Chicago bouncing between that second group and the third (which would include Cornell, Northwestern, and Hopkins).

    Relatedly, I think Hopkins will see a fairly big push upward, and Northwestern will make strides as well. They probably wouldn't make it into that second group (of Yale, Columbia, and UPenn), but they'd be firmly in that third group.

    So, something like this:

    Harvard / Stanford

    Columbia / Pennsylvania / Yale

    Chicago / Duke (these two fluctuate between the second and third tiers)

    Cornell / Johns Hopkins / Northwestern

    Contrast that to 100 years ago, where the two top American research Us were:

    Harvard and Chicago

    I think it's fair to say that in the past 100 years, Chicago has dropped the farthest out of the tippy top schools.

  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 1,024 Senior Member
    @Cue7 With the noted -- and important exception -- of life sciences. UChicago is firmly between your Harvard and Stanford and Columbia/Penn groups.. It will stay that way. In fact, in many fields (business, law, English as examples) it is firmly with Stanford and Harvard. Not having engineering and the weakness in Medical sciences is the issue. Note that Columbia has been slipping in medicine and business and needs to regain its mojo a bit. UChicago has tremendous momentum at the moment, and they know how to use it.
  • kaukaunakaukauna Registered User Posts: 1,127 Senior Member
    I agree with those who say who knows but my own view is that for UChicago to solidify where it is the City of Chicago in general and Hyde Park in in particular will have to thrive. I was in Hyde Park this last weekend and I was reminded what a beautiful dynamic place it is, and how much potential it has.

    What will the Obama Center do for the University? What will be the effect of financial problems of the State and the City on the University? Will Chicago get a grip on its violent crime problem the way NYC has? These to me are the big questions to ponder.

    Chicago is such a great city; it deserves a World class University.
  • kaukaunakaukauna Registered User Posts: 1,127 Senior Member
    Hyde Park is an underapprecited gem of the city. It’s architectural beauty puts other trendy neighborhoods to shame.
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 17,985 Senior Member
    @Cue7 's statement about Chicago dropping a long way in the past 100 years has to be challenged a little bit.

    I don't know on what authority he claims that Harvard and Chicago were the dominant research universities at the time. I think Berkeley and Michigan were right in there, and maybe Columbia and Cornell as well, with Yale about to explode and Stanford well funded and with known ambition. But more importantly, the whole concept of the "research university" was still only a generation old, and had considerably less importance then than it does now, especially relative to undergraduate education. Places like Amherst, Williams, Oberlin, Bowdoin, and of course Dartmouth and the military academies were of comparable importance to Harvard and Yale (and not so much smaller than them as they are today). Medical schools and law schools were still in the process of establishing themselves as the preferred method of professional qualification in those fields, and business schools were un-heard of.
  • JenniferClintJenniferClint Registered User Posts: 307 Member
    edited May 1
    @Chrchill Wouldn't engineering also be a glaring exception? Does Chicago need to be great at everything? That's the larger question. If H and S are the preeminent (comprehensive) American universities, wouldn't it make more sense for schools in the next tier(s) to find their niches and excel at them (specially if they don't have the resources to compete across the board)? Duke used this strategy quite effectively in the 80s (by recruiting Stanley Fish and other eminent scholars to bolster its English department). If I was a Chicago student/alum, I'd look for the school to focus its resources on the disciplines in which it has traditionally excelled. A "Caltech for the social sciences" if you will. I think Duke should do the same thing with medicine, Penn with medicine and business, Yale with law, etc.
  • FStratfordFStratford Registered User Posts: 411 Member
    My crystal ball says top 3. And this is why: There is a clear path for UChicago to the top and it all boils down to $. For the areas where it does not need money, it is already at the top or near the top or can easily be at the top with minor tweaks. If it gets enough money to shore up Medicine and expand Engineering to other new engineering fields, then there is nothing else to do but be what it now already is - a great place to live and learn.

    As for $ issue, that is the reason why UChicago needs to attract students that will donate not just eventually but immediately (happy students, happy alums; employed alums, happy alums). UChicago needs to create more "Business Econ" and "Law Letters" type of majors, not less. For instance, a more "applied" version of CS would be nice. The Institute of Politics can even offer some specialized major, once it becomes sorta like Harvard's IOP. Again, happy alums = more donations.

    Another $ getter - keep the ranking up. Keep the school in the news. That will get older alums to donate - even those stogy ones who are proud they survived UChicago but could not be bothered to write a check. And even alums from other schools will donate, if they have a good business dev team.

    Third, have Booth people manage the University endowment. I mean seriously, the school should be getting Yale sized returns, not Northwestern sized returns. What are those Nobels for if they cant be used to build a long-term investment strategy?

    So that's my $0.02
  • IzzoOneIzzoOne Registered User Posts: 423 Member
    Almost no schools can compete universally across all topics. Even Harvard struggles, despite its history and $40B endowment, in areas like engineering. Princeton, with unmatched per student resources, lacks some programs and is probably a bit too small to be absolutely top notch in others. I think universities, like countries an business, should pursue strategies of differentiation, and I also think students will be better off if they do it.

    It isn't easy to make it into the top echelon. When I first became aware of university reputations, I would have named HYP plus Stanford, MIT, and Caltech as the top schools in a general sense (Caltech being the most specialized). This was quite a while ago, but I would probbly still name these today. However, I have seen movement. Duke, Chicago, Notre Dame, Vanderbilt, Brown, Penn, and Tufts have certainly improved their standing in my memory. (I may have missed some.) Duke, for instance, was probably considered the strongest school in the South (probably along with Rice), but was not at the level it has attained now. If someone chose to attend UVA or UNC instead of Duke then, no one would have thought much of it (the price differential was quite large). Now it would be thought of as an opportunity that was passed up.

    I think Chicago in on a bit of a hot streak, which will probably cool at some point, but I think it has what it takes to get stronger if it focuses in the areas that make sense.
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 1,024 Senior Member
  • ChrchillChrchill Registered User Posts: 1,024 Senior Member
    @JenniferClint I agree with what your are implying that Uchicago does not need engineering. Even Harvard has weaknesses. I am all for product differentiation. Uchicago is already doing that.
  • Cue7Cue7 Registered User Posts: 2,410 Senior Member
    edited May 2
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