Roosevelt University was founded in 1945 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Edward J. Sparling, then president of the Chicago YMCA College resigned from his post after failing to provide a breakdown of the college’s student demographics to the board of governors. Sparling feared the board wanted to use the data to create quotas limiting the numbers of women, African Americans, Jews and immigrants allowed at the school – an all too common practice at the time. Instead Sparling resigned and a number of faculty and students, inspired by his commitment to equality, left with him. The group founded a new college, initially called Thomas Jefferson College but renamed when President Franklin D. Roosevelt died two weeks later.
The new college had no endowment, no campus and no library but with the help of many influential backers, including Eleanor Roosevelt, the institution survived and started to grow. Members of the college’s advisory board included Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Albert Schweitzer and Marian Anderson. The college purchased the Auditorium Building in downtown Chicago in 1947 and has continued to grow and thrive ever since while retaining the core principle that higher education should be open to all.
The main university campus is in downtown Chicago and occupies the iconic Auditorium Building, the tallest in Chicago when it was constructed. The university has other facilities at the Gage Building. Between them these two buildings host the majority of the university’s academic and administrative facilities as well as sports and leisure services, a theatre and an art gallery.