Chicago State University

Chicago State University
Chicago State University
Established September 2, 1867 (1867-09-02)
Type Public
Endowment $3,763,212
President Dr. Wayne Watson
Academic staff 470
Students 7,131
Undergraduates 4,531
Postgraduates 2,304
Location Chicago, Illinois, USA
41°43′04″N 87°36′35″W / 41.717646°N 87.609744°W / 41.717646; -87.609744Coordinates: 41°43′04″N 87°36′35″W / 41.717646°N 87.609744°W / 41.717646; -87.609744
Campus Urban
Colors Evergreen and white
Athletics NCAA Division I
Nickname Cougars
Affiliations Great West Conference

Chicago State University (CSU) is a state university of the U.S. state of Illinois, located in Chicago.



Cook County Normal School was founded in 1867, largely through the initiative of John F. Eberhart, the Commissioner of Schools for Cook County.[1] Eberhart noted that Cook County schools lagged far behind their counterparts in the city of Chicago, especially in terms of the quality and competence of instructors. He convinced the County Commissioners to hold a teacher training institute in April 1860; its success convinced the commissioners of the need for a permanent school to educate teachers. In March 1867 the Cook County Board of Supervisors created a Normal school at Blue Island on a two year experimental basis. Daniel S. Wentworth was the first principal.

In 1869, the school opened as a permanent institution in Englewood, then a village far beyond the outskirts of Chicago. After Wentworth died in 1883, he was replaced by Colonel Francis Wayland Parker, a towering figure in the history of American education. Parker was an educational innovator who helped construct the philosophy of progressive education, which has decisively shaped American schooling over the past century. Dedicated to the proposition that the nature and interests of the child should determine curricular decisions, not vice-versa, progressive reformers from the 1890s forward tried to banish what they saw as oppressive and authoritarian standards of instruction. Parker urged teachers to grant pupils the freedom to learn from their environment, to let curiosity rather than rewards or punishments provide their motivation, and to advance American democracy by democratizing their classrooms. John Dewey wrote in The New Republic in 1930 that Parker, "more nearly than any other one person, was the father of the progressive educational movement."”[2] Parker believed that education was the cornerstone of a democracy, and that to achieve this end rote memorization should be replaced with exploration of the environment. Parker's Talks on Pedagogics preceded Dewey's own School and Society by five years, and it is one of the foundational texts in the progressive movement.

By the 1890s, Cook County was unable to provide the requisite support for its Normal School. Since many graduates found employment in the Chicago Public Schools system, it was natural that the city would take over, though initially it was very resistant to the idea. In 1897 the Chicago Board of Education assumed responsibility for what was now the Chicago Normal School. Shortly thereafter, Francis W. Parker, the school's renowned principal, resigned after the Board failed to implement the recommendations of a school system commission headed by William Rainey Harper of the University of Chicago.[3] Harper suggested raising the standards for admission to the Normal School, increasing the total number of teachers trained, and strengthening oversight of graduates once they were working in the public schools.

Parker was replaced by Arnold Tompkins. Tompkins was an Indiana Hegelian who introduced key reforms that helped mold the institution's philosophy. Tompkins declared his dissatisfaction with the practice school then used as a laboratory for student-teachers. He wanted instructors to gain real world experience in Chicago's public schools, and he encouraged their placement in poor, immigrant communities. From that point forward, the school would be characterized not just by its innovative pedagogical practices, but also by its commitment to expanding opportunity to underserved sectors of society.

Tompkins was succeeded as president by Ella Flagg Young, a pioneering educator in her own right. Young received a Ph.D. under John Dewey at the University of Chicago, and after leaving Chicago Normal School served as Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools system. She attempted to expand the curriculum to three years, but was stymied by the Board of Education. After Young left to become Superintendent in 1909, William Bishop Owen became Principal of CNS.

In 1913, the school was renamed Chicago Normal College, with higher admissions standards and several new buildings gradually added to the campus. In 1926, the College moved to a three-year curriculum, with heavier emphasis placed on traditional academic subjects as opposed to pedagogy. The school was an increasingly attractive educational avenue for Chicago's immigrant communities, who could get inexpensive preliminary schooling before transferring to a university. However, when the Great Depression began in 1929, severe budget shortages forced the College to curtail its operations, and almost eventuated in its closing. In 1932, the Board of Education budget shrank by $12 million.[4] To many, an obvious strategy for economizing was to close the Normal College, since there were no positions in the school system for trained teachers anyway.

The faculty and students campaigned vigorously to keep the College open. Pep rallies, publications, and the efforts of immigrant communities were all part of the mobilization in favor of continued operations. As the economy stabilized, the threat to dissolve the College receded, though it did not disappear. Meanwhile, interest in the school rose, as financial destitution forced many Chicago-area students to forgo residential institutions elsewhere for a commuter campus closer to home.

In 1938, the school again changed its name, this time to Chicago Teachers College to reflect the recent adoption of a four-year curriculum. President John A. Bartky had ambitious plans for invigorating instruction through a new commitment to the liberal arts and a doubling of the time devoted to practice teaching. In addition, a Master of Education degree was offered for the first time. However, Bartky's reforms were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, which depleted the faculty and student body alike. Bartky himself enlisted in the Navy in 1942, and never returned to the college. In his absence, the Chicago Board of Education reversed most of his curricular innovations.[5]

After the war ended, Raymond Mack Cook was hired as Dean. Cook's primary achievement was to convince the state of Illinois to take over funding of the College. The city was no longer able to fund the institution adequately, and in 1951 Governor Adlai Stevenson signed legislation that reimbursed the Board of Education for its operating expenses on a permanent basis. In 1965, Cook succeeded in convincing the state take responsibility for the College entirely.

As the demographic composition of the south side of Chicago changed, increasing numbers of African-American students began to attend the College. By the 1950s, nearly 30% of the student body was black. At the same time, three branches of Chicago Teachers College opened elsewhere in the city; these eventually became Northeastern Illinois University. During these years Chicago Teachers College and its branches educated a preponderance of the students who became Chicago Public School system teachers.

Once the state of Illinois took over control of the institution, the student body and programs offered rapidly expanded. The college experienced two more name changes, becoming Chicago State College in 1967 and Chicago State University in 1971, a year before moving to a new campus. By the mid-1960s the college's infrastructure was deteriorating and tensions between the majority white student body and the mostly black surrounding neighborhood were on the rise. Like many campuses, Chicago State College experienced a burst of student activism in 1968 and 1969 as black students and faculty demanded greater attention to their needs and interests and closer relations with the neighborhood. The administration responded by creating an African-American Studies program and cultural center.

In 1972, the university moved to its new location at 9501 S. King Dr., between Burnside and Roseland. The state purchased the land from the Illinois Central Railroad and suspended classes for 2 weeks in November to complete the move.

In January 1975, 5,000 students signed a petition on a 45-foot-long (14 m) scroll requesting that President Gerald Ford give the commencement address at graduation that summer. On July 12, 1975, President Ford gave the commencement address at the ceremony held in the Arie Crown Theatre at McCormick Place and received an honorary doctor of laws degree.[6]

Shortly thereafter President Milton Byrd announced his resignation. His replacement, Benjamin Alexander, was the institution's first African-American leader. Under Alexander's command the school received full 10-year accreditation for the first time in its history. Alexander pushed hard to foster multiculturalism, as the African-American portion of the student body swelled from 60% at the outset of the 1970s to over 80% by 1980. These shifting demographics encouraged a debate over whether CSU should be considered a predominantly African-American institution, akin to the HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) or whether it should retain a multicultural and multiracial identity. That debate has continued in some form ever since.

President Benjamin Alexander hired Dr. Dorothy L. Richey, a Tuskegee University graduate to become the first woman appointed head of athletics at a Co-educational College or University in the United States. Her Teams excelled during her first year as Athletic Director in 1975.[7]

The school struggled in the 1980s with flat enrollments, declining state budgets, and falling graduation rates. However, in the early 1990s President Dolores Cross helped introduce a sharp increase in enrollment and retention. She urged faculty to personally call advisees and students who might be having problems. Enrollment rose 40%, nearing 10,000. The Chicago Tribune dubbed Chicago State “Success U.” [8]

In 1990, Gwendolyn Brooks, the well-known poet, was hired as a Distinguished Professor; she taught classes at CSU up until her death. Brooks protégé and English professor Haki R. Madhubuti established a writing center, now called the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing, which hosts a yearly conference and offers the only MFA degree in the country to focus on African American literature. Today it is directed by the poet Quraysh Ali Lansana.[9]

Elnora Daniel became President in 1998 and she worked to increase federal and state funding and to create new programs. An Honor's College was established in 2003 and a College of Pharmacy in 2007. Daniel also oversaw the first doctoral program at CSU in Educational Leadership. The program produced its first graduates in 2009. Special funds were procured to finance a textbook buying program for African schools and two new buildings: the University Library and the Emil and Patricia Jones Convocation Center.

The school has recently been the target of many controversies. After university president Elnora Daniel resigned under allegations of unjustified spending, the board of trustees began a search for her replacement. Several faculty members who served on the search committee resigned in protest feeling their concerns were not addressed. Part of their concerns include a graduation rate of only 16.2% (as of 2007) and inadequate infrastructure.[10] On April 29, 2009, the board of trustees appointed retiring City Colleges of Chicago chancellor Wayne Watson as Chicago State's new president. The decision was protested by several students and faculty, who openly booed the announcement, claiming that Watson's appointment was motivated by political considerations rather than the good of the students and faculty.[11] These issues prompted the Higher Learning Commission, the school's accrediting agency, to express "grave" concerns regarding Chicago State's future and indicate that its accreditation might be in jeopardy.[12]


The school's sports teams are called the Cougars and the team colors are green and white. CSU participates in the Great West Conference of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I. From 1994 until June 2006, CSU was a member of the Mid-Continent Conference, but withdrew and took independent status before joining the Great West Conference, in which it which began play in 2009-2010. Prior to gaining NCAA Division I status, the university enjoyed memberships in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and NCAA Division 2.

Melvin Bland was the first CSU student athlete to gain NAIA All-American status in 1974 as a wrestler. Tyrone Everhart also was a NAIA Honorable Mention All-American wrestler the same year. Fred Evans as a sophomore became the first black swimmer ever to win a National Championship in 1975. [7] The Chicago State University Ice Hockey Team produced 2 NCAA Division 2 All-Americans in the 1975-76 season. George Hansen and Bob Janecyk were selected in 1975-76 to the NCAA (College Division) West All-American Team. Janecyk was selected two more times designated as an NCAA (College Division) West All-American Team goaltender for CSU in 1976-77 and 1977-78. He went on to play for the Chicago Black Hawks of the National Hockey League.[13] The first NAIA District #20 Championship Team in any sport was the 1975 wrestling team, which captured the NAIA District #20 Championship coached by Dr. James G. Pappas. The Cougar Wrestling Team also won District #20 titles in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980.

In 1984, the CSU Men's Basketball Team captured third place at the NAIA National Championships.[14] The team's performance throughout the tournament was as follows:

Chicago State (Ill.) 79, Franklin Pierce (N.H.) 62

Chicago State 105, Kearney State (Neb.) 104 2OT

Chicago State 68, Chaminade (Hawaii) 66 (Quarterfinals)

Fort Hays State (Kan.) 86, Chicago State 84 OT (Semifinals)

Chicago State 86, Westmont (Calif.) 82 OT (3rd)

National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics honors and All-Americans

  • 1974 - Melvin Bland - All-American - Third Team Wrestling
  • 1975 - Fred Evans - All-American - Men's Swimming & Diving
  • 1976 - Fred Evans - All-American - Men's Swimming & Diving
  • 1976 - Scott White - All-American - Men's Swimming & Diving
  • 1977 - Fred Evans - All-American - Men's Swimming & Diving
  • 1977 - John Ebito - All-American - Men's Swimming & Diving
  • 1978 - Ken Cyrus - All-American - Second Team Men's Basketball
  • 1979 - Chandler Mackey - All-American - Wrestling
  • 1979 - Joseph Curtis - All-American - Men's Indoor Track & Field
  • 1979 - Joseph Curtis - All-American - Men's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1979 - Mike Eversley - All-American - Second Team Men's Basketball
  • 1980 - Chandler Mackey - All-American - Wrestling
  • 1980 - Derrick Hardy - All-American - Wrestling
  • 1980 - Ken Dancy - All-American - Second Team Men's Basketball
  • 1981 - Eric Blackmon - All-American - Men's Swimming & Diving
  • 1983 - Jon Jahnke Academic - All-American - Baseball
  • 1983 - Sherrod Arnold - All-American - First Team Men's Basketball
  • 1983 - Stanley Griffin - All-American - First Team Men's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1984 - Charles Perry - All-Tournament Team - First Team Men's Basketball
  • 1984 - Denise Bullocks - All-American - Women's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1984 - Denise Bullocks - Outstanding Performer - Women's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1984 - Denise Bullocks - Scholar-Athlete - Women's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1984 - Learando Drake - All-American - Third Team Men's Basketball
  • 1984 - Lionel Keys - All-American - Wrestling
  • 1986 - Jimmy McGriff - All-American - Men's Indoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - Chris Garrett - All-American - Men's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - David Rogan - All-American - Men's Indoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - David Rogan - All-American - Men's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - Deanail Mitchell - All-American - Men's Indoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - Deanail Mitchell - All-American - Men's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - Denise Bullocks - All-American - Women's Indoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - Denise Bullocks - All-American - Women's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - Enos Watts - All-American - Men's Outdoor Track & Field
  • 1987 - Ron Walton - All-American - Men's Outdoor Track & Field


Emil and Patricia A. Jones Convocation Center

The Emil and Patricia Jones Convocation Center is a 5,500-seat multi-purpose arena in Chicago, Illinois on the campus of Chicago State University. The arena hosts the Chicago State University Cougars basketball teams. It replaces the Jacoby D. Dickens Athletic Center, which only had capacity to seat 2,500 persons. Among sporting events, the convocation center houses concerts, conferences, and special city-wide events. The convocation center is unique among Illinois university athletic projects, because Chicago State University did not have to raise any money for the project.

Jacoby Dickens Center

The Jacoby D. Dickens Center (JDC) is home of the Chicago State University Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. The building was built in 1971 and was formerly known as the CSU Athletics Building until 1995, when it was dedicated to renowned Chicago businessman Jacoby D. Dickens. Inside the Jacoby D. Dickens Center is a 2,500-seat gymnasium, three swimming pools, a fitness center, eight locker rooms, three classrooms, a dance studio, an auxiliary and a multipurpose gymnasium. In addition, the building is home to CSU's athletic department and the university's Health and Physical Education Department.


The University's library, dedicated in October 2006, features a state of the art Automated Storage and Retrieval System, which currently holds most of the library's material that was produced before 1991. The system is called ROVER (Retrieval Online Via Electronic Robot) and can retrieve five books in 2.5 minutes, on average; the average time for a student to retrieve five books is 2 hours. The system has a capacity of 800,000 volumes and its database is backed up in at least two offsite locations.[15]

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability References
Edward Gardner founder, Soft Sheen Products
Young Lottery recording artist
Dr. Margaret Burroughs noted author
Juba Kalamka 1993 Black LGBT activist, emcee, curator and record producer
David Blackmon restaurateur
Bob Janecyk National Hockey League goalie, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings (1983-89)
Wayne Molis 1962-64 forward, New York Knicks (NBA) and Houston Mavericks (ABA), 1966-68
Dennis DeYoung, John Panozzo, Chuck Panozzo and John Curulewski founding members of rock band Styx
Shondra Harris First female president of Uribe, Jamaica and CEO of U.S. Cellular Jamaica.
James "Chico" Hernandez featured on a box of Wheaties Energy Crunch and is a FIAS World Cup Vice-Champion in Sombo Wrestling.
Rosalyn Bryant competed for the United States in the 1976 Summer Olympic Games
Willye White competed for the United States in five Olympic Games
Steven Whitehurst Award winning author. [16]
Marlow H. Colvin Illinois State Representative (2001–present)
Connie Howard Illinois State Representative (1995–present)
Donne E. Trotter 1988-93 (House); 1993–present (Senate)
Zelda Martin Whittler First African American Female Undersheriff of Cook County (featured in Jet magazine)

Notable former students

Name Class year Notability References
Kanye West recording artist
Name Class year Notability References
John Mallee 1987-88 Batting Coach for the Florida Marlins

Honorary degrees

Name Class year Notability References
Congressman Danny K. Davis received an honorary Ph.D. from the university
President Gerald Ford 38th President of the United States 1975 received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the university


  1. ^ Edmund W. Kearney and E. Maynard Moore, A History: Chicago State University, 1867-1979 (Chicago: Chicago State University Foundation, 1979), p. 7
  2. ^ John Dewey, "How Much Freedom in the New Schools?" The New Republic, July 9, 1930: 204-207, p. 204.
  3. ^ Kearney and Moore, p. 28
  4. ^ Kearney and Moore, p. 44
  5. ^ Kearney, p.51
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b Company, Johnson Publishing (1975-06). Ebony. 
  8. ^ Christine Hawes, “Chicago State Now Success U” Chicago Tribune May 7, 1992
  9. ^
  10. ^ Chicago Tribune.,0,3599845.story. 
  11. ^ Cohen, Jodi S (2009–04–30). "Chicago State University president: Next President Wayne Watson booed by students, faculty". Chicago Tribune. 
  12. ^ "Commission cites concerns with Chicago State accreditation". Chicago Tribune. 2009–09–25. Retrieved 2010–05–22. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Championship History". NAIA. 2008-12-23. Retrieved 2009-04-01. 
  15. ^ Erin Biba. "Biblio Tech". Wired (January 2007): 33. 

External links

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