The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is the city’s only public research university. It grew out of the Chicago College of Pharmacy, founded in 1859, after which it joined forces with other medical colleges in the region.
Although UIC’s origins are rooted in healthcare – the university lays claim to the largest medical school in the US – its 15 colleges offer programmes spanning liberal arts, social work and engineering, as well as sciences and health.
The institution now comprises over 29,000 students and is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse student bodies in America.
UIC’s first campus, at the junction of the Greektown and Little Italy districts of Chicago, meant that many students were the first in their families to attend college (and still remain so, to this day).
During a period of rapid student expansion in the 1960s, the renowned Chicago architect Walter Netsch was asked to design buildings that would accommodate a growing student community in what was a small area of land. His response was to construct them in a series of concentric rings, the inspiration for which was a droplet of water.
Netsch’s brutalist style dominates UIC’s east campus, which is nicknamed ‘Circle’ after the major expressway that runs alongside it.
Extra-curricular activities at UIC are in plentiful supply. Sports facilities include a gym, volleyball and racquetball courts, running paths, climbing walls and an outdoor field complex comprising 214,000 square feet of synthetic turf for soccer and baseball games. A separate outdoor facility has tennis and basketball courts, along with swimming pools, saunas and a wellness centre.
At the beginning of each academic year, UIC also hosts a free ‘back to school’ music festival on campus exclusively for students. A 10,000-seater, multi-purpose arena on campus allows for easy access to other major concerts and productions, while a contemporary art space, called Gallery 400, is at the centre of the Chicago arts scene.
Away from campus, UIC students have the opportunity to take part in one of the university’s many study abroad programmes that include, among other things, interning at the German Bundestag and working for a member of the German Parliament.