A Message from the Dean of the College

Welcome to the College of the University of Chicago, a home to unbounded inquiry that since its first days has welcomed scholars of all backgrounds regardless of class, gender, religious affiliation, or race.

Universities are exciting crucibles of scientific creativity and intellectual innovation. Universities are also communities that assemble people who wish to learn about and to benefit from the great achievements of humankind and of nature, accomplished in the past and remembered and understood in the present. Finally, universities are communities that seek to shape the future, because they have the power and the privilege to use the achievements of our common past and our shared present to define the ways by which we will think about what we want our future to be. At a time when some question the value of higher education, it has never been more urgent to affirm liberal inquiry as a fundamental source of cultural development, social progress, and personal well-being. Proudly, this is the commitment of the University of Chicago.

One the most effective instruments of the University to sustain this mission has been the College’s curriculum in general and liberal education. A curriculum is more than a set of formal prescriptions and requirements. It is a statement of basic values and a way by which the faculty can assert what is educationally important and what is not, and how it wishes to organize its own work, based on past traditions and current scholarly expertise. The curriculum also constitutes the cognitive framework through which our alumni sustain and compound the intellectual accomplishments they inaugurated while on campus, giving them a lifelong link to the intellectual community in which they lived and transformed themselves to pursue the life of the mind wherever they might go. And our curriculum is a public commitment and affirmation that we will educate our students for the kind of future—humane, tolerant, enlightened—that inspires all of us.    

Students who join our community of scholars become a part of this legacy, not only because of the scholarly ancestors whom they can claim and because of the distinguished women and men who will teach them, but because they themselves also add to the great reservoir of talent, interest, and commitment that is at the core of our community. 

The grandeur of our community, that which shines forth to each person who visits us even for a short time, that which graces each of us who have the privilege of joining this community as permanent members, is that it is a courageous and fearless place, a place of strong liberty and vibrant convictions, and out of all those convictions, out of all the generations of unfettered debate that they have sponsored and protected, has arisen an institution truly worthy of the meaning and the promise of the higher learning.


John W. Boyer
Dean of the College
The Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor of History