April 14, 2015

University to celebrate 125th anniversary

This autumn, the University of Chicago turns the page on 125 years of existence. Celebration of this milestone will begin with Opening Convocation on September 21st and continue throughout the Autumn Quarter with various events and activities for faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members to reflect on the school’s intellectual history and evolution.

These celebratory events will be unified under the theme “125 Years of Inquiry and Impact.” According to an email sent last week by Dean John W. Boyer to university faculty, students, and staff, “These two ideas – inquiry and impact – reflect the two components of the University’s Latin motto, Crescat scientia; vita excolatur (‘let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched’).”

In an interview with The Chicago Maroon, Boyer elaborated upon the significance of the upcoming anniversary to the university community.

“It’s an opportunity for the students and faculty and staff to think about where the university has come and where it wants to go,” Boyer said. “Universities are dynamic places.  In a paradoxical way, they serve to conserve the past – past knowledge and past traditions – but they’re also inherently future-oriented because they help us define and create the future we want to live in and the future we want our children to live in.”

Various committees have been appointed to aid in the organization of the 125th anniversary celebration. One such committee has plans in the works to use events like Homecoming and Family Weekend to engage the university community in the conversation about UChicago’s past and future

“Right now these committees are working hard to provide ideas and suggestions about what they might want to plan for next year,” Boyer said. “We’re trying to get as much feedback as we can so we can have a pretty good sense by the end of spring quarter of what will be happening in the fall.”

A calendar of projected activities can be found online, and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

One highlight already on the calendar is a lecture and conversation with Maestro Riccardo Muti, music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), which will take place on the evening of Opening Convocation in the Logan Center Performance Hall.

The university’s anniversary coincides with the CSO’s celebration of its own 125th season in 2015-16. Boyer commented on the intersection of the histories of the two institutions and the aptness of a shared celebration.

“The conjunction between the two reminds us not only that Chicago has these great civic institutions, but also that they were founded at more or less the same time as the city grew,” Boyer said. “So I think it’s quite nice and quite appropriate that the symphony is joining our celebration, and we would certainly be open to ways to join their celebration, as well.”

Boyer continued, “You have these interlocking elites of civic benefactors that help to create all these institutions, so in a way we’re all part of the same story of how a great city came to have great civic institutions.”

The autumn quarter festivities will culminate at the 525th Convocation for graduating students on December 11th in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, featuring the premier performance of a specially commissioned musical piece by Anthony Cheung, Assistant Professor of Music.