Roosevelt University

Roosevelt University is a private university with campuses in Chicago, Illinois and Schaumburg, Illinois.[3] Founded in 1945, the university is named in honor of both former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Roosevelt University
Former names
Roosevelt College (1945 – 1954)
MottoDedicated to the enlightenment of the human spirit
Endowment$122.2 million[1]
PresidentDr. Ali Malekzadeh
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States

41°52′34″N 87°37′29″W
CampusChicago Loop, and Schaumburg
ColorsGreen      White     
AthleticsNAIA, CCAC
The Higher Learning Commission

The university enrolls around 4,400 students between its undergraduate and graduate programs. Roosevelt is also home to the Chicago College of Performing Arts. The university's newest academic building, Wabash, is located in The Loop of Downtown Chicago. It is the tallest educational building in Chicago, the second tallest educational building in the United States, and the fourth-largest academic complex in the world.


The university was founded in 1945 by Edward J. Sparling, the president of Central YMCA College in Chicago, after a dispute. He refused to provide his board with the demographic data of the student body, fearing the board would develop a quota system to limit the number of African Americans, Jews, immigrants, and women at the school. As a result, Sparling resigned under protest and took with him many faculty and students to start a new college. Faculty voted in favor 62 to 1, and students 488 to 2 for the school.[4][5] In the beginning, the university had no library, campus, or endowment.

The new college was chartered as Thomas Jefferson College on March 28, 1945 and had financial backing from Marshall Field III, the Julius Rosenwald Foundation, the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union, and numerous other individuals and organizations. Two weeks later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt died. The college obtained his widow Eleanor's permission to rename the institution as Roosevelt College in his memory.

In 1947, the college purchased the Auditorium Building for one dollar, and it became the permanent home. The college was rededicated to both Franklin and Eleanor in 1959. Early advisory board members included Marian Anderson, Pearl Buck, Ralph Bunche, Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, Gunnar Myrdal, Draper Daniels, and Albert Schweitzer. In August 1996, the university opened its Albert A. Robin Campus in Schaumburg, after a donation from Albert A. Robin, an entrepreneur and immigrant.


  • Dr. Ali Malekzadeh (2015–present)[6]
  • Dr. Charles R. Middleton (2002–2015)
  • Dr. Theodore L. Gross (1988–2002)
  • Dr. Rolf Weil (1965–1988)[7]
  • Dr. Robert Pitchell (1963-1964)[8]
  • Dr. Edward J. Sparling (1945–1963)


Downtown Chicago campus

Chicago classes are held within Roosevelt's historic Auditorium Building at 430 S. Michigan Avenue, blocks from the Magnificent Mile. The Auditorium Building houses the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University and numerous administrative offices for the university. A second downtown campus building is the Gage Building, located at 18 S. Michigan Avenue. It also houses the Gage Gallery and administrative offices for the College of Education, Manfred Steinfeld School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Paralegal Studies Program and the School of Communication.

Pro football's 2015 NFL Draft was held in the Auditorium on April 30, 2015, the league's first time hosting the draft in Chicago in more than 50 years.

In Spring 2010, construction began on a new building for the downtown campus, which was completed in Spring 2012. The 32-story vertical campus, the Wabash Building, is the second-tallest higher-education building in the United States and the sixth tallest in the world. It serves as a multipurpose building: housing student services, classrooms, contemporary science labs, administrative offices, and student residences. Student residences are on the top floors (14-32), with a shared lounge overlooking Lake Michigan on each floor. The university held an open house in the summer of 2012, with classes beginning in the new addition during the Fall 2012 semester.

The Lillian and Larry Goodman Center,[9] the first stand-alone facility for college athletics in Chicago's Loop, is the latest addition to Roosevelt University's downtown Chicago campus and serves as the home for Roosevelt Lakers Athletics.

Albert A. Robin Campus, Schaumburg

Roosevelt University's campus in Schaumburg is the largest four-year university in Chicago's Northwest suburbs, serving approximately 2,500 students. The campus is located in the former headquarters office building of the Pure Oil Company. Roosevelt converted the building into a comprehensive campus in 1996. The Albert A. Robin Campus is home to the Doctor of Pharmacy program, which accepted its inaugural class in July 2011. Roosevelt's PharmD program is the Midwest's only three-year, year-round program of its kind. In July 2014, it achieved full accreditation for its Doctor of Pharmacy curriculum. The campus is also home to the University's only PhD program (Industrial-Organizational Psychology), which began in August 2012.

Located on 30 acres, the Schaumburg Campus is on the north side of Golf Road Illinois Route 58 across from the Woodfield Mall and near the intersection with Meacham Road (42°03′15″N 88°02′19″W). Recently, campus administrators have created prairies on sections of the land for environmental and educational purposes.


The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees through six schools: Chicago College of Performing Arts, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education, Evelyn T. Stone College of Professional Studies (formerly known as the Evelyn T. Stone University College), the College of Pharmacy, and Walter E. Heller College of Business. In addition, the university operates a variety of centers and institutes.

Social justice, a cornerstone of Roosevelt's history and development, has been purposefully embedded into the school's curriculum and is part of every student's academic experience. Topics previously covered have included such issues as public versus private rights to use city parks, the impact of gentrification following urban modernization projects, and the impact one can have to preserve the earth's natural resources. Student-led research projects and theses have also touched areas such as gender equality and the effects of minimum wage on the economy.[10]

Student life and residence life

Roosevelt University currently has three residence hall options, including the new vertical campus. The new Wabash building serves as housing for all incoming freshmen and transfers. The University Center of Chicago is the other main residence hall, with apartment style options.[11] It was officially opened in the fall of 2004 and is located at 525 S. State Street. The UCC houses students from Roosevelt University, DePaul University, and Columbia College Chicago, totaling 1700 residents from these three schools combined. The second residence hall is Fornelli Hall, with apartment-only options, located in the Pittsfield Building at 55 E. Washington Street, Chicago. It opened in the fall of 2008.[12] It provides apartment-style housing for upperclassmen from Roosevelt and Robert Morris Universities.[13]

The Herman Crown Center, located at 425 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, was the main residence hall for Roosevelt until it was closed in the spring of 2008.[14] Like the Herman Crown Center, the new 32-story vertical campus is connected to the Auditorium Building and provides direct access between the two buildings.[15]

Student activities

There are many active student organizations at both of the Roosevelt University campuses.

  • Alpha Gamma Delta Women's Fraternity: an international fraternity and a member of the National Panhellenic Conference; was installed at Roosevelt in 2008 and was the 182nd chapter
  • Alpha Phi Omega: co-ed National Service Fraternity; charter for the Alpha Phi Omega chapter was originally at Central YMCA, transferred on reactivation at Roosevelt
  • Sigma Alpha Iota: International Music Women's Fraternity. Mu Xi chapter at Chicago College of Performing Arts initiated April 2015.
  • Roosevelt Review: Roosevelt's national and award-winning literary journal.[16]
  • Black Student Union: represents the interests and concerns of black students, faculty and administration at Roosevelt University, and brings together all aspects of black student life for the purpose of improving the campus environment
  • Colleges Against Cancer: an initiative originally started by the American Cancer Society and brought to Roosevelt to educate advocacy, recognize survivors, and participate in the Relay for Life
  • Mansfield Institute Student Organization (MISO)
  • RU Green: develops sustainable practices and systems throughout campus to promote an ecologically conscious student body and to implement green methodologies throughout campus
  • PULSE: GSM (Gender and Sexual Minority) Society: an organization that focuses on uniting students who are accepting of differences; an alliance among all gender and sexual minorities. Was renamed in 2016 after the PULSE massacre in Florida.
  • RU Sociological Society (RUSS): fosters the advancement of sociological study at undergraduate and graduate levels by providing outlets for students to present research, exchange ideas, and build relationships[17]
  • Society for Human Resource Management: a gateway into the human resources profession by encouraging personal and career growth for its student members
  • Student Government Association
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • The Torch: Roosevelt's student newspaper (7,500/weekly); noted for first publishing Shel Silverstein[18]
  • WRBC The Blaze: Roosevelt's online student radio station[19]


Roosevelt University sports teams, known as the Lakers, compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA); the university is a member of the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC). Men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, and track and field; women's sports include basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, tennis, volleyball, and track and field.[20]

The 20,000-capacity Toyota Park is the home of the Roosevelt Lakers soccer teams.

Roosevelt University revived its athletic program after a 20-year absence in 2010. Roosevelt recently added women's volleyball for the 2011-12 academic year, followed by men's golf, men's and women's soccer, and softball for the 2012–13 academic year.[21] The expansion of the university's athletics has brought the number of sport offerings from the initial seven sports to fourteen.[20]

The Lillian and Larry Goodman Center is located at 501 S. Wabash Avenue, which is the southeast corner of the intersection known as Ida B. Wells Drive and Wabash Avenue. The Goodman Center is a two-story, 27,834-gross-square-foot field house featuring a multi-purpose gymnasium on the second floor and first-floor space containing offices, meeting rooms, a team lounge, locker rooms, an athletic training room, and a strength and conditioning center.

The lobby stairwell of the Auditorium Building (430 S. Michigan Avenue) was featured in the film The Untouchables.[22] The lobby was also the set of a nightclub scene in the 2009 film Public Enemies.[23]

In the summer of 2005, the Murray-Green Library on the 10th floor of the Auditorium Building was used as a set for the film The Lake House, in which the room doubled as an architect's office.

Notable people

The university's alumni includes many entertainers, academics, and politicians such as Anthony Braxton, Danitra Vance, and Harold Washington, while its first advisory board lists figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Albert Einstein.


  1. "College Navigator - Roosevelt University". 2002-10-25. Retrieved 2019-06-20.
  3. "Our Story". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  4. Montaño, Estevan. "Research Guides: Roosevelt University History: Roosevelt University". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  5. "News & Events". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  6. First as Acting President, then in 1967 as elected President.
  7. „Pitchell held a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley, and was an Indiana University political scientist and tax expert. He was hired as Roosvelts second president after an 18-month national search, but his tenure only lasted for one year. Sometimes called “the forgotten president", he failed in raise money or understand the strong culture of shared governance at Roosevelt and so did not gain the support of the deans and trustees.“ Laura Mills and Lynn Y. Weiner: Roosevelt University, p. 66. See also: Pitchell, Head of Roosevelt U., Quits in Administrative Conflict; In Letter of Resignation, He Asks to Be Relieved of Duties by Aug. 31, New York Times, 18 Dezember 1964
  8. "Roosevelt University Athletics – Goodman Center". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  9. "Roosevelt University". U.S. News & World Report. 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-08.
  10. "About UC". University Center. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  11. "Fornelli Hall – Chicago Test". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  12. "Gazette Chicago » Jones, Roosevelt expanding their South Loop facilities". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  13. "data". Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  14. "About WRBC". WRBC The Blaze. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  15. "Roosevelt Lakers". Roosevelt University. Retrieved 2017-05-18.
  16. "A Rebuilding Program at Chicago's Roosevelt University". The New York Times. July 11, 2009. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
  17. "The Untouchables". 3 June 1987. Retrieved 31 March 2017 via IMDb.
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