Washington University

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Washington University in St. Louis is a private, coeducational, non-sectarian research university located in St. Louis.

The University includes 7 graduate and undergraduate schools [1], encompassing a broad range of academic fields. In the 2007 U.S. News & World Report rankings, its undergraduate program is ranked 12th in the nation (tied with Cornell University). High-ranked schools include the Medical School, which is tied for fourth in the nation in research, and the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, which is ranked second.

Despite its de facto official name, the school is legally incorporated as The Washington University, and popular nicknames for the university include Wash U and WUSTL, derived from the initials of the university's name. To prevent confusion over its location the Board of Trustees added the suffix “in St. Louis” in 1976 [2].

The institution was co-founded in 1853 by William Greenleaf Eliot and Wayman Crow[3] as Eliot Seminary in downtown St. Louis, and it functioned as a night school until 1856.The university offered its first four-year Bachelor arts degree in 1859 under the title of Washington University, and moved to its current location six miles west of the St. Louis downtown in 1905.[4]

Tuition for all undergraduates is $37,800 for the 2009-2010 school year, and the University has an endowment of $4.7 billion[5], one of the largest in the nation. The current Chancellor of the University is Dr. Mark S. Wrighton, a Florida State and Caltech trained chemist who was formerly provost at MIT.


Washington University was co-founded as a nonsectarian, private institution in 1853 by the Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot, grandfather of the Nobel Prize laureate poet T. S. Eliot, and by St. Louis leader Wayman Crow. Its first chancellor was Joseph Gibson Hoyt. It desegregated its undergraduate divisions in May of 1952.

The university's original name at the time of foundation was Eliot Seminary. Eliot, however, was not in favor of the name, and in 1854, the Board of Trustees changed it to Washington Institute in St. Louis in honor of George Washington. In 1857, the name was changed to Washington University. Often subsequently confused with one of the nearly 20 other institutions sharing the Washington name in their titles, the university again changed its name in 1976, restoring the "in St. Louis" suffix to distinguish it in the national media.[6]

The campus was the venue for 3 Presidential debates: the first 1992 Presidential debate on October 11, 1992, the third 2000 Presidential debate on October 17, 2000, and the second 2004 Presidential debate on October 8, 2004. It was also scheduled to host one in 1996, but that debate was canceled when the two candidates chose not to participate.

In the summer of 2002, Brookings Hall Room 300 was transformed into the Mission Control center for Steve Fossett's sixth and ultimately successful attempt to circumnavigate the planet in a balloon--the Spirit of Freedom.[7]

At the start of the Fall 2006 semester, the St. Louis Metro opened the Shrewsbury extension of its light rail Metrolink system. Three of the nine new stations directly serve the University (Skinker, University City-Big Bend, and West Campus). On July 1, 2006, the University began offering free Metro passes--the U Pass--to all full-time students, faculty, and staff.[8]



Brookings Hall; frequently an icon for the university, houses administrative offices

The Danforth Campus, formerly known as The Hilltop Campus, was officially dedicated on September 17, 2006, in honor of William H. Danforth, the 13th Chancellor of the University, his family, and the Danforth Foundation.

It is distinguished by its Collegiate gothic architecture. Its construction was accelerated through a profitable lease of several buildings to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Thanks to the efforts and influence of David R. Francis, an alumnus and former mayor of St. Louis, Missouri governor and U.S. Interior Secretary, newly-constructed campus buildings on the edge of Forest Park began use for classes when the Fair was over. This included facilities used by the six-day 1904 Summer Olympics, such as Francis Field and Francis Gymnasium.[9]

The landscape design of the University's Danforth Campus grounds was created in 1895 by a firm best known for designing New York City's Central Park. The University's signature building, Brookings Hall, was designed by Cope & Stewardson, which was famed for designing schools throughout the country based on motifs at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. A nearly identical Cope & Stewardson building is also a defining landmark at Princeton University -- Blair Hall [10]. Brookings Hall houses the office of the Chancellor, Admissions, the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and other administrative departments.

The nation's foremost landscape design firm of Olmsted, Olmsted, & Eliot -- founded by Frederick Law Olmsted -- updated their design of the Danforth Campus in 1899. (Olmsted's firm also created the 1897 master design renovations for the Missouri Botanical Garden a few miles away.) The University held a national competition in 1899 using Olmsted's master plan to select an architectural firm, and Cope & Stewardson were chosen to design the entire campus. [11]

Just as the University was planning to move to its new campus from downtown St. Louis, the organizers of the St. Louis World's Fair asked if they could rent the entire campus during 1903-04 as the headquarters for the event in nearby Forest Park. The University agreed and delayed its move until 1905. Brookings Hall, Busch Hall, Cupples I & II Halls, Francis Field & Gymnasium (site of the 1904 World Olympics), Ridgley Hall, Eads Hall, and Prince Hall (a mens' dormitory) were then used by Fair organizers.

Washington University was the site of the Games of the III Olympiad

Recent Years

Since 1995, more than 30 new buildings have been erected.



Arts & Sciences

The school of Arts & Sciences is composed of three divisions. One is for full-time undergraduates--the College of Arts & Sciences. One is for graduate work--the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. The third is for continuing education--University College. Edward S. Macias is Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean of Arts & Sciences.


The College of Arts & Sciences is the central undergraduate unit of the University with 330 tenured and tenure-track faculty along with over 100 research scientists, lecturers, artists in residence, and visitors serving about 3,000 undergraduates in 40 academic departments divided into divisions of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Mathematics. The College of Arts and Sciences is currently ranked 12th in the country according to U.S. News & World Report.

Undergraduates in the other schools meet general education requirements by taking courses in the College of Arts & Sciences. Many of these students have double majors or minors in an Arts & Sciences discipline as well as in their professional field.

Beginning with the freshmen of 2001, Arts & Sciences students are required to satisfy the new Discovery Curriculum requirements.[12] Based on the Bowen Commission Report approved by the faculty in 1999, the Discovery Curriculum requires students to demonstrate breadth and depth of knowledge across four discipline areas (Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Social Sciences, Textual and Historical Studies, and Language and the Arts), as well as satisfy requirements in Quantitative Analysis, Social Differentiation, Cultural Diversity, and writing.[13]

James E. McLeod is Vice Chancellor for Students and Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.


The Graduate School serves over 1,500 students pursuing Masters and Ph.D. degrees. It is ranked highly in terms of time to degree and the rate at which it places its graduates. Some of its many notable programs include: Germanic Language and Literatures, Creative Writing, Political Science, Anthropology and the interdisciplinary Philosophy-Neurosciences-Psychology. Robert E. Thach is the Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

University College

University College was founded in 1931. It grants graduate and undergraduate degrees, primarily for adult and continuing education. It also oversees the primary summer school program for the University. Robert E. Wittenburg is the Dean of University College.

School of Law

The School of Law offers eight joint-degree programs, including JD/MSW, JD/East Asian Studies, and JD/MBA programs. It also offers two graduate degrees in law, the LLM and the MJS (Master of Juridical Studies). The law school offers 3 semesters of courses in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and requires at least 85 hours of coursework for the JD. The median LSAT score consistently ranks in the 90th percentile and above. This year, the median score placed the average student in the 96th percentile of test takers. The law school's clinical training program is currently ranked fourth in the nation. The law school offers a full-time day program, beginning in August, for the J.D. degree in a state-of-the-art building, Anheuser-Busch Hall (opened in 1997). The building combines traditional architecture, a five-story open-stacks library, an integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, and the latest wireless and other technologies. National Jurist ranked Washington University 4th among the "25 Most Wired Law Schools." Kent D. Syverud is the Dean of the School of Law.

School of Business

The John M. Olin School of Business is located alongside the School of Law and the College of Arts and Sciences on Washington University's hilltop campus.

Olin School of Business was founded in 1917. The school was named after the entrepreneur John M. Olin in 1988. As one of the leading business schools in the United States, Olin obtained its reputation from strong research-oriented achievements and competitive graduates. The school provides full-time BSBA, MSBA, MBA, EMBA degree programs, as well as part-time MBA and PhD programs. In 2002, an Executive MBA program was established in Shanghai, in cooperation with Fudan University.

Olin has a network of about 13,000 alumni all over the world. Over the last several years, the school’s endowment has increased to $178 million (2004) and annual gifts average $12 million per year. Due to a donation from John E. Simon, Simon Hall was opened in 1986.

The flexible course arrangement is a factor attracting potential students. Undergraduates who pursue the accounting concentration can choose a five-year Master of Science program which is seeking CI certification. Graduate students can select electives from other schools comprising the University, such as the Medical School and Law School.

Mahendra R. Gupta is the Dean of the Olin School of Business.

School of Medicine

The medical school partners with St. Louis Children's Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital (part of BJC HealthCare), where all physicians are members of the school's faculty.

Within the Medical School, the School of Physical Therapy is also highly reputable. It is ranked 2nd in the nation for "Best Physical Therapy Schools" according to U.S. News & World Report"The Best Graduate Schools 2006". U.S. News & World Report. [14] In 1999, the Program was granted approval by Washington University to offer a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) at both the professional and post-professional levels. The two new clinical doctorate programs replaced the Master of Science in Physical Therapy and the Master of Health Science (MHS). With the transition to the DPT, the program would best equip students to manage the changing needs of the health care environment and the growing responsibilities of the profession. In its 60-year history, more than 1500 students, most of whom are still actively involved in the physical therapy profession, have graduated from the Program.

Larry Shapiro is Executive Vice Chancellor for Medical Affairs and the Dean of the School of Medicine.

School of Social Work

The George Warren Brown School of Social Work (commonly called GWB) is currently ranked second among Master of Social Work (MSW) programs in the United States. GWB also offers a Ph.D. in Social Work, in cooperation with the Graduate School. The school was named by Bettie Bofinger Brown for her husband - George Warren Brown - a St. Louis philanthropist and founder of the Brown Shoe Company. The school's dean is Edward Lawlor. It has a center for Native American research, as well as acclaimed scholars in social security, health, individual development accounts, etc. Edward F. Lawlor is the Dean of the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

School of Engineering

The School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) was ranked 41 in the 2005-2006 U.S. News undergraduate engineering program ratings. Its current head is Dean Mary J. Sansalone, Ph.D.

Departments Include:

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Science and Engineering
  • Electrical and Systems Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

(The Engineering Physics Major is no longer offered via the Engineering School for students who did not declare their major prior to Fall 2006.)

School of Design & Visual Arts

Created in 2005, the Sam Fox School combines the strengths of art and architecture into a single school offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. The School also includes the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, considered one of the most distinguished university art collections in the country. Architecture offers BS and BA degrees as well as M.Arch. There is a combined six-year BS/M.Arch degree program as well as joint M.Arch programs with most of the other schools in the University. In 2006, the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design was ranked 10th in the nation by Design Intelligence. Art offers the BFA and MFA in Art in the context of a full university environment. Students take courses in the College of Arts & Sciences as well as courses in the School of Art to provide a well rounded background. One third of students in the school pursue a combined study degree program, second major, and/or minors in other undergraduate divisions at Washington University. U.S. News & World Report ranked the MFA program 21st in the nation. In October 2006 the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum will move into new facilities designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect, Fumihiko Maki.

Carmon Colangelo is the Dean of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

Libraries and Museums

With 14 libraries, the Washington University library system is the largest in the state of Missouri, containing over 3.6 million volumes.[15] The main library is named for John M. Olin and is centrally located on the Danforth Campus. The other libraries are Art & Architecture, Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Planetary Sciences, East Asian, Law, Mathematics, Medical School, Music, Physics, Social Work, and the West Campus.

The special collections include the literary papers of James Merrill, Samuel Beckett, Howard Nemerov, Stanley Elkin, William Gass, and Mona Van Duyn among others. The Film and Media archive includes material created by University alum Henry Hampton documenting the Civil Rights Movement.[16]

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, established in 1881 is one of the oldest teaching museums in the country. The collection includes works from 19th, 20th, and 21st century American and European artists, including George Caleb Bingham, Thomas Cole, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Barbara Kruger, and Christian Boltanski. In October 2006 the museum moved from Steinberg Hall into a new facility designed by Fumihiko Maki.

Student Life

Student Organizations

Washington University has over 200 undergraduate student organizations on campus. All are funded by WUSTL's student government Student Union, which has a $2 million annual budget that is completely student controlled and is one of the largest student government budgets in the country. Known as SU for short, it sponsors large-scale campus programs including WILD (a semesterly concert in the quad), free daily national newspapers including the New York Times, USA Today, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; the Assembly Series, a weekly lecture series; and the campus television station, WUTV, and the radio station, KWUR. WashU is also home to the largest juggling club in the St Louis area, the National Prestigious Society of Collegiate Jugglers. The University was host of the 1991 International Juggler's Association's annual festival.

Founded in 1967, SU carries out three major activities: representing student interests; registering, funding, and supporting student groups; and planning campus-wide events. It is divided into three branches: the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. The Student Union Executive Branch is comprised of 4 elected individuals, who are the student body officials - the President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. The Legislative branch includes the Treasury and the Senate. Recent resolutions of the Senate include adding new capabilities to student ID cards, forming a GLBTQA task force, requiring all professors to distribute course syllabi and midterm grade progresses, and increasing the minimum wage of University workers. The SU Judicial Branch includes a Constitutional Council comprised of a Chief Justice, four Associate Justices, and one Alternate. The Election Commissioner and the Financial Advisory Review Board (FARB) fall under the Judicial Branch of Student Union. SU is one of the few student governments in the country that does not compensate its elected offers. More information about the history and responsibilities of Student Union can be found here.


75% of undergraduate students live on campus. Most of the dormitories on campus are located on the South 40, named because of its adjacent location south of the Hilltop campus and its size of 40 acres. It is the location of all the freshman dorms as well as several upperclassman dorms. All of the dorms are co-ed. The South 40 is organized as a pedestrian friendly environment where residences surround a central recreational lawn known as the Swamp. Wohl Student Center, the Habif Health and Wellness Center (Student Health Services), the Residential Life Office, University Police Headquarters, various student owned businesses (e.g. the laundry service, "Wash U Wash"), and the baseball, softball, and intramural fields are also located on the South 40.

Residences on the 40, as it is frequently abbreviated, are broken into small groups known as Residential Colleges. Residential Colleges typically have social events for their member houses and are administratively a single unit. Each College was originally supposed to consist of a freshman dormitory and an upperclassman dormitory paired together, but currently only five out of the nine include at least one freshman dormitory and at least one upperclassman dormitory.

Residential Colleges include:

  • Wayman Crow (Howard Nemerov and Nathan Dardick Houses)
  • Robert S. Brookings (Arnold J. Lien and Kate M. Gregg Houses)
  • William Greenleaf Eliot (WGE) (Elizabeth G. Danforth, Ethan A.H. Shepley, and Butron M. Wheeler Houses)
  • Park/Mudd (Park and Mudd Houses)
  • JKL (Rutledge, Dauten, and Shandeling Houses)
  • HIGE (Herbert F. Hitzeman, Chester Myers, Frank E. Hurd, and Thomas H. Eliot Houses)
  • Lee/Beaumont (John F. Lee and Louis Beaumont Houses)
  • Ruby/Umrath (Helen F. Umrath and Maurie Rubelmann Houses)
  • Liggett/Koenig (Liggett and Koenig Houses)

Another group of residences, known as the North Side, is located in the northwest corner of campus. Only open to upperclassmen, the North Side consists of Millbrook Apartments, The Village, and all fraternity houses except the Zeta Beta Tau house, which is off campus and located just northeast of the South 40. Sororities at Washington University do not have houses by their own accord. The Village is a group of residences where students who have similar interests or academic goals apply as small groups of 4 to 24, known as BLOCs, to live together in clustered suites. Like the South 40, the residences around the Village also surround a recreational lawn as well as its own student center.

Student Media

Washington University supports four major student-run media outlets. The university's independent student newspaper, Student Life, is printed thrice weekly and is one of the oldest college newspapers in the nation. KWUR (90.3 FM) serves as the students' official radio station; the station also attracts a listenership in the immediately surrounding community due to its eclectic and free-form musical programming. Though KWUR offers streaming content through the Internet, the station only broadcasts at ten watts, and its frequent applications to the FCC to increase its power have been unsuccessful. WUTV is the university's closed-circuit television channel. The university's main political publication is the Washington University Political Review (nicknamed "WUPR"), a student-run nonpartisan biweekly magazine. The Washington Witness, part of the national Collegiate Network, is a nonpartisan conservative and contrarian biweekly published by the school's Conservative Leadership Association. Washington University undergraduates publish two literary and art journals, The Eliot Review and Spires Intercollegiate Arts and Literary Magazine. A variety of other publications also serve the university community, ranging from in-house academic journals to glossy alumni magazines to organization newsletters.


WUSTL's sports teams are called the Bears. They participate in the University Athletic Association and the NCAA Division III. The Bears have won 13 NCAA Division III Championships, four in women's basketball (1998-2001), eight in women's volleyball (1989, 1991-1996, 2003) and one in men's basketball in 2008. The teams have also won 112 University Athletic Association titles in 14 different sports. The Athletic Department is headed by John Schael who has served as director of athletics since 1978. The 2000 Division III Central Region winner of the National Association of Collegiate Director's of Athletics (NACDA)/Continental Airlines Athletics Director of the Year award, Schael has helped orchestrate the Bears athletics transformation into one of the top departments in Division III. Washington University in St. Louis is home of Francis Field, site of the 1904 Summer Olympics.


There is a large interest in A cappella music on campus, spawning 10 groups such as The Stereotypes, After Dark,and Mosaic Whispers. A body known as ACAC (All A Cappella Auditions Council) oversees auditions for member groups each fall. The University also has a Department of Music that, in addition to providing concentrated study for music majors, also provides instrument and voice lessons to students. There are also a number of instrumental groups and ensembles in which students may participate. Other student organizations, such as Team 31 and The Gargoyle Committee, bring in popular national bands and lesser-known independent alternative performers. There is also a music magazine on campus which was recently started for the school called Eleven Magazine.


  • WILD - Walk In, Lay Down, the semesterly concert in the Quad which brings in popular acts such as Guster, Lil' John, Ben Folds, Busta Rhymes, Live, and the Black Eyed Peas.[17]
  • Bauhaus - Annual Holloween costume party sponsored by the Architecture Student Council.[18]
  • Thurtene Carnival - The oldest and largest student-run carnival in the nation.[19]

Contact Information

One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130
Phone: 800-638-0700

External Links

Official Websites

Student Publications

  • Bearings - A student guidebook to St.Louis and Washington University.
  • Eliot Review - Art and literary journal.
  • Hatchet - Washington University Yearbook.
  • Student Life - Thrice a week student newspaper.
  • Spires - Intercollegiate Arts & Literary Magazine.

Further Reading


<googlemap lat="38.648584" lon="-90.310063" zoom="15" width="700" controls="large">38.648584, -90.310063</googlemap>

Washington Universty

Centers and InstitutesLibrary SystemSchool of Arts & SciencesOlin School of BusinessSchool of LawSchool of Medicine


Danforth CampusFrancis FieldMedical CampusTyson Research AreaWest CampusMildred Lane Kemper Art Museum


University HistoryUniversity Chancellors

Student Life

OverviewKWUR RadioResidential CollegesSpires MagazineStudent Life NewspaperWashington University Political Review

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