At the University of Chicago our distinguished faculty believe that the vocation of teaching defines the highest and best nature of the University—teaching has given the University a singular identity of intellectual transformation, and teaching has also made our university a powerful agent in the constitution of the quality and integrity of the broader culture in which we live. In fact, it is fair to say that much of the University’s history and identity have been shaped by and constituted by the faculty’s preoccupation with the College’s curriculum.
A diverse community of intellectuals, Chicago faculty affirm the importance of general education as the foundational principle for liberal learning. They embody and teach the skills of critical thinking, writing, and argumentation, and encourage the bold, self-confident questioning that produces student scholars of extraordinary intelligence, character, wisdom, and compassion. The dedication of the faculty attracts students to the College who care deeply about the quality of the learning in which they are eager to engage, who have a passionate commitment to conducting their personal lives infused by Chicago’s special intellectual style, and who see the intensive study of the liberal arts as the best possible preparation for a successful career in one of the free professions or in other prominent professional domains of American life.
In welcoming the College’s 1987 incoming class Professor Hanna H. Gray, former President of the University of Chicago, captured these values in eloquent terms:
“We hope that your education and participation in the [UChicago] community of learning will make a lifelong difference and encourage for you the growth and practice of intellectual liberty, in stimulating intellectual curiosity and a respect for the power of thought and literature and learning, of scholarship and discovery at their best, and in strengthening the capacity to penetrate to what is significant, to sift and distinguish, to synthesize and judge. We hope that your education will render it impossible to think that there is not a common—by which I do not mean comprehensive—core of learning that not only should be studied for its own sake and for the sake of understanding your heritage and that of others, but will also command attention and reflection for the rest of your lives.”*
*The Aims of Education, The College of the University of Chicago, pg. 78