Founded on the principles of accessibility and equality, Roosevelt University has been a catalyst for change for 75 years. Explore key milestones and major events in Roosevelt history.
Central YMCA College President Edward “Jim” Sparling resigns rather than supply information on the race and religion of students to the college administration.
The new school is renamed to honor the memory of President Franklin Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt agrees to chair the first Board of Advisors, which includes Albert Einstein, Pearl Buck, Thomas Mann, Ralph Bunch, Marian Anderson, Gunnar Myrdal and Albert Schweitzer.
The Board of Trustees is developed to represent business, labor, cooperatives, faculty and the press, and with the addition of chemist Percy Julian becomes the first racially diverse board of an integrated college.
Roosevelt College purchases the Auditorium Building to provide more classroom, lab and office space for the growing academic community. Designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, the building was opened as a grand hotel and theatre in 1889, but had fallen on hard times by the Depression and was converted into a facility for servicemen and women during World War II, with a bowling alley built on the theatre stage.
Classes open in the Auditorium for over 5,000 students. The national press reports on the remarkable racial, religious and ethnic diversity of Roosevelt students, faculty and staff in an era still marked by discrimination and segregation, labeling the College “a model of democracy in education” and “an equality lab.”
The Illinois State Legislature investigates Roosevelt College, known for its tolerance of multiple points of view, for “seditious activities” but finds no evidence. Roosevelt is thereafter sometimes called “the little red schoolhouse.”
The Chicago Musical College, led by Rudolph Ganz and founded by Florenz Ziegfeld Sr. in 1867, merges with Roosevelt. At that time also Roosevelt College is renamed Roosevelt University.
Funds are raised to restore the original beauty of the Auditorium Building, beginning with the second-floor women’s lounge (now the Sullivan Room) and the seventh-floor recital hall (now Ganz Hall). In 1959 the Auditorium Theatre Council is created, headed by trustee Beatrice Spachner, to restore the 4,200-seat theatre.
Robert J. Pitchell is appointed Roosevelt’s second president, but leaves after a year.
The 17-story Herman Crown Center opens adjacent to the Auditorium Building with housing for 350 resident students.
The College of Business Administration is renamed the Walter E. Heller College of Business Administration.
The College of Education is established, after 28 years as a department within the College of Arts and Sciences.
After years of extension classes for military, adult and continuing students, Roosevelt creates its first satellite campus in the northwest suburbs at North School in Arlington Heights.
The suburban campus is named for Albert A. Robin and moves to larger quarters in Arlington Heights.
The Institute of Metropolitan Affairs is created.
The Robin Campus moves to Schaumburg. By 2000 there are over 3,000 students enrolled.
The Center for New Deal Studies is founded in the College of Arts and Sciences.
The theatre program in the College of Arts and Sciences merges with the Chicago Musical College to form the College of Performing Arts. In 2000 the college is renamed the Chicago College of Performing Arts.
The Roosevelt Scholars program begins for honors students.
As enrollment grows in downtown Chicago, Roosevelt leases several floors of the Gage Building, designed by Louis Sullivan and located on Michigan Avenue across from Millennium Park. The facility houses the College of Professional Studies, the College of Education, several departments in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a photography gallery.
The Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate is founded in the Walter E. Heller College of Business.
The athletic program is revived after 22 years of dormancy, with membership in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. Within three years the Goodman Center is built, there are 16 men’s and women’s teams for some 200 student-athletes, and the women’s basketball team makes school history by reaching the national championship competition of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
The College of Pharmacy becomes Roosevelt’s sixth college and admits its first class at the Schaumburg Campus, featuring an accelerated three-year, year-round program.
The Industrial-Organizational Psychology program creates Roosevelt’s first PhD program. Two other doctoral programs include a PsyD in psychology and EdD in education.
The Wabash Building – a 32-story glass-exterior vertical campus of classrooms, labs, student services and student residences, replaces the Herman Crown Building. Housing some 600 students, it is the second-tallest academic building in the United States and the sixth-tallest in the world, winning numerous awards for architectural and environmental innovations.
Ali Malekzadeh is named Roosevelt’s sixth president.
Roosevelt University announces its application to the Higher Learning Commission to integrate Robert Morris University Illinois into Roosevelt. The integrated University would continue as Roosevelt University. Roosevelt plans to create a new college within the University, the Robert Morris Experiential College, in which many of the Robert Morris programs would reside.