Recent protest and opposition to actions of the University of Chicago, particularly in communities

Return to University Hot Topics or Hot Topics home, University and Community home. To Neighborhood News and Announcements. To Harper Court, Harper Theater. 61st St. Garden. Chicago Theological Seminary. Woodlawn District. UC Master Plans and Planned Development 43. Woodlawn (neighborhood) News.

To description of disagreements in the Medical Center (more in Health Care Delivery page).


By Gary Ossewaarde

The University of Chicago, the leading "company" and employer on the South Side of Chicago, has for most of its history been recognized as a more-than-essential anchor and asset. Many of its actions have had their detractors, from at least Thorstein Veblen early in the 20th century, through criticism of policies on race (including often treatment of persons of color and enforcement of restrictive covenants), though the mixed bag of the past 60 plus years known as urban renewal, then civic engagement. The bitterness in many communities, and ongoing critiques of University commercial, housing, parking and transportation management continues even among recognized positive developments in these fields and major outreach in schools, health, and community policing-- pluses and minuses.

Disillusionment on community relations especially for Hyde Park appeared to grow increasingly serious through 2009, particularly on grounds of a decline in communication, collaborative spirit, and "getting it" on neighborhood needs and character. Of course there are hopeful signs as well, with most people working together on what's of mutual benefit.

Some of the recent criticisms that have intensified with the Zimmer Administration include: an apparent about-turn on community involvement and sensitivity toward neighbors concerning development--53rd, Harper Court, Doctors Hospital, land purchases far from campus..... and how these will impact ability of residents of all income levels to continue to live around the University and how neighborhood quality and "character" will be defined. There are many viewpoints and complexities on these and many other issues, with frustrations on the part of both those who want things largely the same and those who want a lot of change. On campus, the boil over's seem most related to a lag in student aid (graduate especially), the planned Milton Friedman Institute, and treatment of service workers--the announcement below, however one reacts to the allegations, indicates a broad set of discontents.

Coming out into the open in spring 2010 was concern about the Milton Friedman Institute and the Confucius Institute/China Center as indicative of a corporate, franchising mentality. A great many professors have signed a petition.

The big town-gown fights in recent years were: Hyde Park Co-Op demise and replacement, Doctors Hospital hotel plan, and the 61st St. Community Garden.

Many of the issues and opportunities of concern to residents are discussed in a whole set of pages in this website, a sample: 53rd Street, Affordability, Business Climate, Development, Doctors Hospital, Harper Court, Harper Theater/Herald buildings, News and Announcements, Public Safety, Quality of Life, Setting Neighborhood Goals, University and Community, UC and Health Delivery, UC Projects Updates, UC and Pubic Safety, 2004 University-Community Renewal Assembly, UC and Schools/Education, Urban Renewal pages, Woodlawn. See also the two Tracking Community Trends pages.

The University issues periodic Releases and information which can be found in its main website, See also in our University Recent News Releases page and Neighborhood Website Links. In the latter is links to the student and university newspapers that contain critical evaluation of community relations as well as campus.

The passage of a dry amendment in the 39th Precinct of Ward 5 where a hotel project was backed by the University (see Doctors Hospital), coming after the fuss over purchases west of King Drive and apprehension over 53rd/Harper Court, probably represent a cyclic nadir (hopefully a bottoming out) in relations of the University with Hyde Park.


Following is an illustrative announcement of one of many rallies held on campus. Others in October 2008 included on the Milton Friedman Institute with the rare meeting of the University Senate, and on treatment of service workers particularly in food service, on graduate student aid, and divestment re Darfur. This site takes no position on the issues and allegations contained herein. We have included the University's stated position in our Health Care Delivery (Urban Health Institute) page but have no information on whether anyone is being denied ER treatment. Some of the coverage and views on the Washington Park purchases is in relevant pages listed above.


Rally and March to University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer's House

Friday, Oct. 24th, 6:30pm Gather at Corner of E. 57th and S. University Hyde Park, Chicago

Over the past several months, we have seen the University of Chicago involved in various human rights violations by turning a cold shoulder to its poor and working class neighbors in Woodlawn, Washington Park, and other surrounding neighborhoods.

While numerous multi-million dollar construction projects have continued through the summer and the fall, only a handful of those hired to work on these projects have been from our communities. The University of Chicago Medical Center has also begun steering the poor away from its emergency room,
essentially outsourcing non-urgent medical problems to already over burdened and under funded local clinics.

At the same time that we are being denied quality jobs and health care, the University of Chicago continues to aggressively expand into our neighborhoods by secretly purchasing plots in the Third ward. All of this while continuing to invest in companies profiting from the ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

We say enough to the violations of Human Rights at home and abroad!

To the outside world, the University of Chicago claims to be working to improve the quality of life for those in its neighboring communities, but we see repeated Human Rights abuses by a multinational corporation with tax-exempt status. We see an increasing need for jobs, health care, and community accountability!

We Demand:

- Greater employment opportunities in University construction projects for the residents of Woodlawn, Grove Park, and Washington Park.

- An end to the University of Chicago Medical Center's policy of refusing to treat poor people who visit the Emergency Room.

- Full disclosure of the University of Chicago's objectives regarding current and future land purchases, especially around Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid.

- Full divestment of University funds from companies doing business with the Khartoum regime in Sudan.

Sponsored by the South Side Coalition (may =, same links as South Side Solidarity Network)
Southsidesn mailing list


Biological Sciences faculty concerned over Madara's Medical Center leadership

(Mr. Madara resigned, and his interim successor Dr. Volkes made some changes esp. in emergency room-- whether anything fundamental will change.... )

Chicago Maroon, May 8, 2009. By Erin Robertson.

Many Biological Sciences Division (BSD) faculty remain worried that Dean James Madara has made insufficient efforts to reach out to researchers in teh department, one month after signing a letter expressing concerns with Madara's leadership in his new role as C.E.O. of University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC).

The April 3 letter, addressed to madara and signed by 76 members of the BSD, was written in response to his performance since the 2006 merger of the BSD and UCMC, forming Chicago BioMedicine. Prior to the merger, Madara was academic dean of the BSD. As a result of the combining of these two positions, the letter argued, "The faculty has been disenfranchised." The letter continued, "[Madara's] combined responsibilities as C.E.O. and dean have distanced [him] from faculty affairs and aspirations."

In an April 6 response, Madara and Provost Thomas Rosenbaum cited Madara's creation of the Faculty Science Review Board, whose members work to provide greater faculty input in Chicago BioMedicine governance, as evidence of Madara's commitment to engagement with researchers. The committee of 30 faculty members will present Madara with its recommendations in June.

"The goal of the committee is to try to develop some recommendations for the dean that respond to the concerns fo the faculty," Professor Janet Rowley, co-chair of the committee, said. Rowley stressed that the members on the committee specialize in a range of academic disciplines and "include as many voices of basic research and clinical faculty as possible."

But while Rowley noted a strong faculty response to the committee, several faculty members expressed a doubt that the committee's recommendations would bring about change. "I believe that teh committee wil come up with a good response," a faculty member who signed the letter said, but she worried that Madara's reaction to the committee's suggestions would be insufficient. The professor wished to remain anonymous to avoid souring inter-department relations.

The faculty members also sent the letter to Provost Rosenbaum and University president Robert Zimmer in the hopes that they may become more involved in Chicago BioMedicine's governance. "Personally, I've been disappointed that they have not been more involved," the unnamed faculty member said. Top