24 April, 2006

U of C Turns Sexier...

Looks like my alma mater is waging a battle in the war to shed its image as the place where "fun comes to die," and the nytimes is talking about it. It's exactly what the Sonnenschein administration sought to do in the 1990s. Indeed, as president of the University from 1993 to 2000, Hugo Sonneschein sought to make the college a more "vibrant" one, by increasing the number of students, decreasing the core education requirements, and working to build an image of fun for the campus (the details are here). And who's to blame him, after all, it was during the 90s that enrollment in the Ivies surged with ever-larger numbers of applicants (and an overall increase in the nation's college population). But not everyone was so hunkydory with these changes. In fact, the common quib in response to the changes implemented under Sonneschein pointed to the erosion of academic rigor via the loosening of the core requirements. The UofC, they argued, was a place known for its demanding academic environment and serious scholarly work. What's less discussed, however, is how these criticisms reflected the enduring opinion of many of the University's students, faculty and alumni, namely, that theirs is an institution for elites. As Sonnenschein put it back in 1995,

"What we do at Chicago is remarkable, and it deserves more attention."

In reponse to this and, particuarly, the concerns of the UC community, I would ask, "as an influential academic instution, don't we also owe more to the nation's best prospetive college students?"

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