The president of the University of Chicago Shortly after being selected to help with the organization in the University of Chicago, at the age of thirty-five (in 1891), Harper was selected as the university’s first president. He took this job very seriously and set standards quite high. Elevating the salaries of the faculty members and, Harper attracted the best scholars to the university. As he was an expert in every area of education, he expected high level of education of his employees. “Chicago’s William Rainey Harper stands out even in an era of heroic leaders.
He became a local hero of sorts, dubbed Chicago’s “young man in a hurry”” (Thelin, 2004. p. 120) Harper was so well known, locally and nationally, and his influence was so great that the University of Chicago became known as “Harper’s Bazaar”. William Rainey Harper and the University of Chicago William Rainey Harper was also giving public courses on the Bible, besides lecturing and overseeing journals, a corresponding school, and the printing office. His reputation as a prodigy attracted the attention of John D. Rockefeller who wanted to found a university and was ready to donate generous amounts of money for the cause.
Rockefeller, whose aim was to create and endow a “Harvard” of the Midwest, invited Harper to be the first president of the new University of Chicago, and in 1891 Harper accepted the invitation. Image 3 The University of Chicago Rockefeller wanted Harper “to help organize and run this new private, nondenominational, coeducational university which by the fall of 1891 would be located on a swampy piece of prairie near the shore of Lake Michigan on what is now called the "gray city".
On October 1, 1892 classes began at the University of Chicago. Its enrollment consisted of 594 students and 103 faculty members. So great was its promise that the first faculty included eight former college and university presidents who resigned their posts in order to teach here. ”(Muskingum. com) Harper wanted this institution to be a modern research university, combining two styles- English style undergraduate college and German style graduate research institute. He used money persuasion and promises of institutional power to attract promising scholars to the so called “wild” West.
Harper wanted his university to be the best among all other universities, and even though the Chicago University was situated on an urban frontier, it competed for prestige with the intellectually more advanced East. “Harper encouraged early administrators to seek new disciplines and ambitious faculty.