The History of the University

Chicago State University opened its doors as a teacher training school in a leaky railroad freight car in Blue Island, Illinois on September 2, 1867. Today, in contrast, the university is a fully accredited public, urban institution located on 161-picturesque acres in a residential community on the Southside of Chicago. During the first year of its founding, CSU enrolled 62 students. The current student enrollment is nearly 7,200.

The path from then until now has been marked by change. During more than 140 years, CSU has changed its name, focus, governance and location. But with each transition, the university has kept sight of its educational mission and enhanced its services to Chicago and its surrounding communities.

Under the name of Cook County Normal School, the school found its first permanent home in 1870. Daniel S. Wentworth was the institution’s first principal. The original building contained 27 rooms and a model grammar school. A few years later, Cook County Normal School added a dormitory that earned it a jump in enrollment and a national reputation. The school was acquired by the Chicago Board of Education in 1897, and renamed Chicago Normal School. In 1913, it became Chicago Normal College, and still later Chicago Teachers College.

A major change, reflected in a broadening of the college’s curriculum, came in 1965, when control of the school passed into the hands of the State of Illinois. The revamped institution was renamed Illinois Teachers College: Chicago South. Soon after, the legislature acted to remove the title of “teachers college” from all state colleges and universities. In 1967, the school became Chicago State College. Throughout the 1960s, Chicago State expanded its academic programs and began to move toward fulfilling its new, more comprehensive role as a liberal arts institution. The school was renamed Chicago State University in 1971.

In November 1972, the university made the monumental move from its 6800 South Stewart Street campus, where it had been located for 102 years, to its present location at 9501 South King Drive, 12 miles from the Loop. A new student union and a 360-bed residence hall opened in August 1995, giving CSU students an opportunity to experience the convenience of living on campus in an enriched academic, social and cultural environment.

Today, CSU is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by Governor of Illinois. The university’s five colleges- Health Sciences, Arts and Science, Business, Education, and Pharmacy - offer 36 undergraduate and 25 graduate degree-granting programs. In addition, CSU has a Division of Continuing Education and Non-Traditional Programs that reach out to the community with extension courses, distance learning and not-for-credit programs.

From its humble origins, Chicago State University has evolved into an outstanding, nationally acclaimed university that provides a value-added education for all who enter its hallowed halls. Consistently evolving to reflect state-of-the-art trends in higher education, Chicago State University prepares students for success in the twenty-first century.