Insider Insights: Undergraduate students are required to take a distribution of courses to satisfy the University's core curriculum known as the Common Core. Most of the Core classes at Chicago contain no more than 25 students, and are generally led by a full-time professor (as opposed to a teaching assistant). As of the 2009-2010 school year, 15 courses, tested proficiency in a foreign language, passage of a swim test, and up to three physical education courses (depending on results of an entrance examination) are required under the Core.
"The Core" in Retrospect: In 1929, the University's fifth president, Robert Maynard Hutchins, took office; the University underwent many changes during his 24-year tenure. Hutchins eliminated varsity football from the University in an attempt to deemphasize athletics over academics, instituted the undergraduate college's liberal-arts curriculum known as the Common Core, and organized the University's graduate work into its current four divisions.
In 1999, then-President Hugo Sonnenschein announced plans to relax the University's famed core curriculum, reducing the number of required courses from 21 to 15. When The New York Times, The Economist, and other major news outlets picked up this story, the University became the focal point of a national debate on education. The changes were ultimately implemented, but the controversy played a role in Sonnenschein's decision to resign in 2000.
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