Recovered Internal Documents Offer a Glimpse Inside Levi Hall

Dozens of pages of internal University administration documents reveal information about the University budget and a number of upcoming initiatives.


Sixty-six pages of internal University administration documents provided to The Maroon reveal previously unreleased information about the current state of the school’s budget, its diversity initiatives, and a free speech event that the University plans to host with presidents of other colleges.

On July 5, the collection of papers was found in a trash can located near the Belmont CTA station in Lake View. Robert Rohdenburg, a resident of the area, told The Maroon that he picked up the file in hopes of using it as scrap printer paper.

“Once I recognized the recentness, and importance, of at least some of the papers, like the University budget and diversity plan […] it made sense to contact the student newspaper first,” he wrote in an email. Rohdenburg, whose public profile mostly involves advocacy for affordable housing in Chicago, has no apparent affiliation with the University.

Although The Maroon has not verified the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the file, the documents appear to be authentic. Some upcoming announcements alluded to in the documents were made after the documents were given to The Maroon, and other elements of the documents were confirmed by the University. Several of the documents refer to a meeting in the Provost’s office at the end of June.

“We recently learned that paper copies of documents containing confidential information related to University planning and operations have been inappropriately obtained. The documents include internal drafts, preliminary observations, point-in-time unaudited financial estimates and incomplete working documents,” University spokesperson Jeremy Manier wrote in a statement to The Maroon.

The Maroon has edited out handwriting on some of the documents as a courtesy to the person who originally possessed the documents. The Maroon does not know the identity of this individual and does not know if the documents were intentionally leaked.

Some of the documents that The Maroon did not regard as newsworthy were withheld from publication. Additional documents within the folder have been withheld because The Maroon judged that the risk of publication to University finances, when weighed against their newsworthiness, did not merit publication. The documents referenced within our coverage have been posted in edited versions here. Edits made to the documents are indicated in the corresponding articles.

The file includes:

  • A 10-page summary of the FY 2017 budget, alongside a one-page set of suggestions for how the University might approach FY 2018. The author of the second document lists concerns, including the prospect that “If…too much money goes to toward innovative classes, innovative classes, small classes, etc., that could put a burden on net tuition available.”
    • In a comment to The Maroon, the University emphasized that the document was not meant to lay out University policy.
  • An internal memo about the pros and cons of taking action against groups which publicly target students at the University. For example, Canary Mission, a website which targets individuals it considers to be “promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on college campuses in North America,” has added several UChicago students to its online “watchlist.” Many of those targeted have have requested University intervention on their behalf.
  • Two pages of planning for a two-day conference on academic freedom in October. Provosts and presidents from over 2,000 United States colleges have been invited to attend, and Barack Obama has been invited to be the keynote speaker.
  • A 10-page draft of a strategy to improve diversity and inclusion at the University, based on climate surveys, meetings, and community forums over the last few years.
  • A list of upcoming University announcements, including a dorm on Dorchester with a “third-party developer,” an unspecified partnership with University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and changes to the University of Chicago Police Department’s crime notification system.