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Washington University in St. Louis

Coordinates: 38°38′53″N 90°18′18″W / 38.648°N 90.305°W / 38.648; -90.305
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Washington University in St. Louis
Latin: Universitas Washingtoniana
Former name
Eliot Seminary (1853–1854)
Washington Institute (1854–1856)
Washington University (1856–1976)
MottoPer veritatem vis (Latin)
Motto in English
"Strength through truth"
TypePrivate research university
EstablishedFebruary 22, 1853; 171 years ago (1853-02-22)
AccreditationHLC
Academic affiliations
Endowment$13.3 billion (FY2022)[1]
ChancellorAndrew D. Martin
ProvostBeverly Wendland
Academic staff
4,151 (2021)[2]
Administrative staff
12,609 (2018)[2]
Total staff
19,646 (2021)
Students16,244 [3]
Undergraduates7,803[3]
Postgraduates8,441[3]
Location, ,
United States

38°38′53″N 90°18′18″W / 38.648°N 90.305°W / 38.648; -90.305
CampusLarge suburb[6], 355 acres (1.44 km2)
Tyson Research Center, 1,966.5 acres (3.07 sq mi; 795.81 ha)[4][5]
NewspaperStudent Life
ColorsRed and green[7]
   
NicknameBears
Sporting affiliations
MascotBear
Websitewustl.edu Edit this at Wikidata
ASN2552 Edit this at Wikidata

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) is a private research university in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. Founded in 1853, the university is named after George Washington, the first president of the United States.

Washington University comprises eight undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools, including Arts and Sciences, George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Olin Business School, Washington University School of Medicine, McKelvey School of Engineering, Washington University School of Law, School of Continuing & Professional Studies, and Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Washington University enrolls approximately 16,550 students across its campuses from all 50 states and more than 110 countries.

Washington University has been a member of the Association of American Universities since 1923 and is classified among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity".[8][9] In 2021, the National Science Foundation ranked Washington University 25th among academic institutions in the United States for research and development expenditures.[10][11] The university's athletic teams, Washington University Bears, play in NCAA Division III as a founding member of the University Athletic Association.

As of 2023, 26 Nobel laureates, 11 Pulitzer Prize winners, 4 United States Poet Laureates, and 6 MacArthur Fellows have been affiliated with the university as faculty or alumni.[12][13] Washington University alumni also include 16 university presidents, 21 members of the United States Congress, 30 Rhodes Scholars, 7 Marshall Scholars and 2 Churchill Scholars.[14][15][16]

History[edit]

19th century[edit]

William Greenleaf Eliot, first president of the board of trustees
Washington University Manual Training School
The Washington University crest at the entrance to Francis Field
Brookings Hall during the 1904 World's Fair

Washington University was conceived by 17 St. Louis business, political, and religious leaders concerned by the lack of institutions of higher learning in the Midwest.[17] Missouri State Senator Wayman Crow and Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot, grandfather of the poet T.S. Eliot, led the effort.

The university's first chancellor was Joseph Gibson Hoyt. Crow secured the university charter from the Missouri General Assembly in 1853, and Eliot was named president of the board of trustees. Early on, Eliot solicited support from members of the local business community, including John O'Fallon, but Eliot failed to secure a permanent endowment. Washington University is unusual among major American universities in not having had a prior financial endowment. The institution had no backing of a religious organization, single wealthy patron, or earmarked government support. To this day, Washington University is controlled by a board of trustees that, by charter, appoints its own members.[18]

During the three years following its inception, the university had three different names. The board first approved "Eliot Seminary", but William Eliot was uncomfortable with naming a university after himself and objected to the establishment of a seminary which would implicitly be charged with teaching a religious faith. He favored a nonsectarian university.[19]

Under pressure from Eliot, the board of trustees created a task force charged with naming the university, headed by Samuel Treat. Several months later Treat's committee proposed naming the university the Washington Institute, after the nation's first president George Washington. In 1854, the board of trustees changed the name to "Washington Institute" in honor of George Washington and because the charter was coincidentally passed on Washington's birthday, February 22.[20] Naming the university after the nation's first president, only seven years before the American Civil War and during a time of bitter national division, was no coincidence. During this time of conflict, Americans universally admired George Washington as the father of the United States and a symbol of national unity. The board believed that the university should be a force of unity in a strongly divided Missouri. In 1856, the university amended its name to "Washington University".

Robert S. Brookings

Although chartered as a university, for many years Washington University functioned primarily as a night school located on 17th Street and Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis. Owing to limited financial resources, Washington University initially used public buildings. Classes began on October 22, 1854, at the Benton School building. At first the university paid for the evening classes, but as their popularity grew, their funding was transferred to the St. Louis Public Schools.[21] Eventually the board secured funds for the construction of Academic Hall and a half dozen other buildings. Later the university divided into three departments: the Manual Training School, Smith Academy, and the Mary Institute.

In 1867, the university opened the first private nonsectarian law school west of the Mississippi River. By 1882, Washington University had expanded to numerous departments, which were housed in various buildings across St. Louis. Medical classes were first held at Washington University in 1891 after the St. Louis Medical College decided to affiliate with the university, establishing the School of Medicine. However, by the 1890s the university was on the brink of financial collapse until Robert Sommers Brookings, president of the board of trustees, undertook the task of rebuilding the university's finances and acquiring land for a new campus. Brookings was instrumental in raising money for the university, since Eliot, the primary fundraiser for the university, had died.

In 1896, Holmes Smith, professor of Drawing and History of Art, designed what would become the basis for the modern-day university seal. The seal is made up of elements from the Washington family coat of arms and the symbol of Louis IX, whom the city is named after.[22]

Washington University spent its first half century in downtown St. Louis bounded by Washington Ave., Lucas Place, and Locust Street. By the 1890s, owing to the dramatic expansion of the medical school and a new benefactor in Robert Brookings, the university began to move west. The university board of directors began a process to find suitable ground and hired the landscape architecture firm Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot of Boston. A committee of Robert S. Brookings, Henry Ware Eliot, and William Huse found a site of 103 acres (41.7 ha) just beyond Forest Park, located west of the city limits in St. Louis County. The elevation of the land was thought to resemble the Acropolis and inspired the nickname of "Hilltop" campus, renamed the Danforth campus in 2006 to honor former chancellor William H. Danforth.[23]

In 1899, the university opened a national design contest for the new campus.[24] The renowned Philadelphia firm Cope & Stewardson (same architects who designed a large part of the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University) won unanimously with its plan for a row of Collegiate Gothic quadrangles inspired by Oxford and Cambridge Universities.[25]

20th century[edit]

Graham Chapel
Brookings Hall

The cornerstone of the first building, Busch Hall, was laid on October 20, 1900. The construction of Brookings Hall, Ridgley, and Cupples began shortly thereafter.[26]

The university delayed occupying these buildings until 1905 to accommodate the 1904 World's Fair and 1904 Summer Olympics, which allowed the university to construct ten buildings instead of the seven originally planned. This original cluster of buildings set a precedent for the development of the Danforth Campus; Cope and Stewardson's original plan and its choice of building materials have, with few exceptions, guided the construction and expansion of the Danforth Campus to the present day.[25]

By 1915, construction of a new medical complex was completed on Kings Highway in what is now St. Louis's Central West End. In 1918, Washington University admitted its first women medical students.[27]

During World War II, as part of the Manhattan Project, a cyclotron at Washington University was used to produce small quantities of the newly discovered element plutonium via neutron bombardment of uranium nitrate hexahydrate. The plutonium produced there in 1942 was shipped to the Metallurgical Laboratory Compton had established at the University of Chicago where Glenn Seaborg's team used it for extraction, purification, and characterization studies of the exotic substance.[28][29]

After working for 22 years at the University of Chicago, Compton returned to St. Louis in 1946 to serve as Washington University's ninth chancellor.[30] Compton reestablished the Washington University football team, making the declaration that athletics were to be henceforth played on a "strictly amateur" basis with no athletic scholarships. Under Compton's leadership, enrollment at the university grew dramatically, fueled primarily by World War II veterans' use of their GI Bill benefits.[31]

The desegregation of Washington University began in 1947 with the School of Medicine and the School of Social Work.[32] The university ended racial segregation in its undergraduate divisions in 1952, making it the last local higher education institution to do so. During the 1940s, the university faced criticism from the local African American media, which included a letter-writing campaign by churches, the local Urban League, and legal briefs by the NAACP, seeking to strip the university of its tax-exempt status.

In 1949, a student group, the Student Committee for the Admission of Negroes (SCAN), was founded and began advocating for full racial integration. In 1951, then-vice chancellor Leslie Buchan argued that full desegregation would isolate the university from the community and potentially lead to incidents on campus.[citation needed] The following year, in May 1952, the board of trustees passed a resolution desegregating the university's undergraduate divisions.[33]

During the latter half of the 20th century, Washington University transitioned from a commuter college to a world-renowned institution.[34] In 1957, planning began for the construction of the "South 40", a complex of modern residential halls which primarily house freshmen and some sophomore students.[35]

With additional on-campus housing, the university, which had been predominantly attended by commuter students, began attracting a greater number of applicants from across the nation.[36] By 1964, over two-thirds of incoming students came from outside the St. Louis area.[37]

In 1971, the board of trustees appointed Chancellor William Henry Danforth, who guided the university through the social and financial crises of the 1970s, strengthened the School of Medicine, and improved the often tense ties between the university and the St. Louis community. During his 24-year chancellorship, he established 70 new endowed professorships, constructed dozens of buildings, secured a $1.72 billion endowment, and tripled the amount of student scholarships.[34]

To better distinguish itself in national media, the university's board of trustees added the phrase "in St. Louis" in 1976.[38]

In 1995, Mark S. Wrighton, former provost at MIT, was elected the university's 14th Chancellor.[39] During Chancellor Wrighton's tenure undergraduate applications to Washington University more than doubled. Since 1995, the university has added more than 190 endowed professorships, revamped its Arts & Sciences curriculum, and completed more than 30 new buildings.[40]

Danforth Campus buildings

Washington University's reputation was enhanced by two major fundraising efforts since the 1980s. From 1983 to 1987, the "Alliance for Washington University" campaign raised $630.5 million, which was then the most successful fund-raising effort in national history.[41] From 1998 to 2004, the "Campaign for Washington University" raised $1.55 billion, which was applied to additional scholarships, professorships, and research initiatives.[42]

21st century[edit]

In 2002, Washington University co-founded the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis's Midtown neighborhood. Cortex is the largest innovation hub in the midwest, home to offices of Square, Microsoft, Aon, Boeing, and Centene. The innovation hub has generated more than 3,800 tech jobs in 14 years.[43][44]

In 2005, Washington University founded the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, an international network of premier research universities, with an initial endowment gift of $10 million from John F. McDonnell.[45][46] The academy, which selects scholars from 35 partnered universities around the world, was created to develop a cohort of future leaders, strengthen ties with top foreign universities, and promote global awareness and social responsibility.[47][48]

In Fall 2006, the St. Louis Metro opened the Cross–County extension of its light rail MetroLink system. Three of the nine new stations directly serve the university (Skinker, University City-Big Bend, and Forsyth). On July 1, 2006, the university began offering free Metro passes—the U Pass—to all full-time students, benefits-eligible faculty and staff, and full-time employees of qualified service providers.[49]

In June 2019, Andrew D. Martin, former dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan, was elected the university's 15th chancellor.[50] On the day of his inauguration, Martin announced the "WashU Pledge", a financial aid program allowing full-time Missouri and southern Illinois students who are Pell Grant-eligible or from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or less to attend the university cost-free.[51][52]

In October 2021, Washington University announced it would invest an additional $1 billion in financial aid for students.[53] The university practices need-blind admissions and meets 100% of admitted students' demonstrated needs.[54] The new financial aid initiative, called Gateway to Success, included $800 million in endowed funding to support need-blind undergraduate admissions, meaning the university will not consider an applicant's financial situation when making admissions decisions while still meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted undergraduates.[55] Another $200 million will be designated for financial aid for graduate and professional students in the university's Brown School, the School of Law and the School of Medicine, as well as in business, engineering, art and architecture, and Arts & Sciences.[54]

In 2022, Washington University was one of 10 universities picked to join the Kessler Scholars Collaborative, which provides support for selected first-generation and Pell-Grant eligible STEM students.[56] The program aims to recruit 20 fully-funded Kessler scholars per year and provide additional opportunities to close the wealth gap.[57] Also, in 2022, Washington University developed a needle-free nasal vaccine to combat COVID-19.[58]

In March 2024, Washington University agreed to purchase the campus of neighboring Fontbonne University when it closes in 2025.[59]

In April 2024, Washington University administrators called the police on a pro-Palestinian demonstration and encampment, resulting in more than 80 arrests.[60] Those arrested included Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and the president of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen.[61] A local professor's ribs and hand were broken during his arrest, leading to his hospitalization.[62]

U.S. presidential and vice-presidential debates[edit]

Washington University has been selected by the Commission on Presidential Debates to host more presidential and vice presidential debates than any other institution in history.[63]

2008 Vice Presidential Debate at the Washington University Field House

The campus was the venue for four Presidential debates, and one Vice-Presidential debate: the inaugural 1992 Presidential debate on October 11, 1992,[64] the third 2000 Presidential debate on October 17,[64] the second 2004 Presidential debate on October 8,[64] the sole 2008 Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin on October 2,[65] and the second 2016 Presidential debate on October 9. The university was scheduled to host a debate in 1996, but that debate was cancelled when the number of scheduled debates was scaled back to two.[66][67]

Following the 2004 debate, Chancellor Wrighton initially expressed skepticism about hosting another debate but later changed his view.[68] He acknowledged the unique educational opportunities for students and emphasized the role of these events in contributing to a national understanding of important issues. Wrighton also highlighted their impact in bringing national and international attention to the St. Louis region, positioning it as one of America's great metropolitan areas.[69]

Contrary to the majority opinion of the student body, the university opted not to host a 2020 presidential debate.[70]

Campuses[edit]

Danforth[edit]

The university's 169-acre Danforth Campus is bordered by the Forest Park section of St. Louis and Clayton and University City, Missouri.

View of Danforth Campus

A large portion of the Danforth Campus is recognized as the Washington University Hilltop Campus Historic District, which achieved National Historic Landmark status on February 27, 1987.[71][72]

The Barry Flanagan bronze statue, "Thinker on a Rock," widely known, simply, as "The Bunny", is currently on permanent loan to Washington University and features prominently near Olin Library, Graham Chapel and Mallinckrodt.

Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement[edit]

Founded with a major gift from former U.S. Congressman Richard Gephardt. Major activities of the Gephardt Institute include the hosting of speakers series, internship and career placement services, granting of money to faculty and students for community-based teaching and learning, supporting co-curricular activities with the community service office, and a summer stipend program, where the university financially supports students who take uncompensated internships in the field of public service.

Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum[edit]

Interior view of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, established in 1881, is one of the oldest teaching museums in the country.[73] 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, Rembrandt, Robert Rauschenberg, Barbara Kruger, and Christian Boltanski. Also in the complex is the 3,000 sq ft (300 m2) Newman Money Museum exhibiting the collection of American numismatist Eric P. Newman. In October 2006, the Kemper Art Museum moved from its previous location, Steinberg Hall, into a new facility designed by former faculty member Fumihiko Maki. The Kemper Art Museum is located directly across from Steinberg Hall, which was Maki's first commission in 1959.

Medical[edit]

The Washington University Medical Center as seen from Forest Park

Washington University Medical Center comprises 186 acres (75.3 ha) spread over 18 city blocks, located along the eastern edge of Forest Park within the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis.[74] The campus is home to the Washington University School of Medicine and its associated teaching hospitals, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital. Many of the buildings are connected via a series of skyways and corridors.

The School's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also serve as the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, which are part of BJC HealthCare. Washington University and BJC have taken on many joint venture projects, such as the Center for Advanced Medicine, completed in December 2001.

In 2019, Washington University was awarded a $7.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to create the Implementation Science Center for Cancer Control to address disparities in cancer care in parts of Missouri and Illinois.[75] In 2022, Washington University's Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences was awarded a five-year $61 million grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health, to focus on precision medicine, health equity, and diversity.[76]

Tyson Research Center[edit]

Tyson Research Center is a 1,966.5-acre (3.07 sq mi; 795.81 ha) field station located west of St. Louis on the Meramec River. Washington University obtained Tyson as surplus property from the federal government in 1963. It is used by the university as a biological field station and research/education center. In 2010, the Living Learning Center was named one of the first two buildings accredited nationwide as a "living building" under the Living Building Challenge,[77] opened to serve as a biological research station and classroom for summer students.

Other[edit]

Washington University's North Campus and West Campus principally house administrative functions that are not student focused. North Campus lies in St. Louis City near the Delmar Loop. The university acquired the building and adjacent property in 2004, formerly home to the Angelica Uniform Factory.[78] Several university administrative departments are located at the North Campus location, including offices for Quadrangle Housing, Accounting and Treasury Services, Parking and Transportation Services, Army ROTC, and Network Technology Services. The North Campus location also provides off-site storage space for the Performing Arts Department.

The West Campus is located about one mile (1.6 km) to the west of the Danforth Campus in Clayton, Missouri, and primarily consists of a four-story former department store building housing mostly administrative space. The West Campus building was home to the Clayton branch of the Famous-Barr department store until 1990, when the university acquired the property and adjacent parking and began a series of renovations.[79] Today, the basement level houses the West Campus Library, the University Archives, the Modern Graphic History Library, and conference space. The ground level still remains a retail space. The upper floors house consolidated capital gifts, portions of university advancement, and information systems offices from across the Danforth and Medical School campuses. There is also a music rehearsal room on the second floor.

Academics[edit]

College/School founding
College/School Year founded
College of Arts & Sciences 1853
James McKelvey School of Engineering 1854
School of Law 1867
College of Art 1879
School of Medicine 1891
College of Architecture 1910
Olin Business School 1917
Graduate School of Arts & Sciences 1922
George Warren Brown School of Social Work 1925
School of Continuing & Professional Studies 1931
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts 2005

Arts and Sciences[edit]

Holmes Lounge, the central reading room on campus, where students may study

Arts & Sciences is home to the College of Arts & Sciences as well as graduate programs across its many departments.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 more than 3,700 undergraduates in 40 academic departments divided into divisions of Humanities, Social sciences, and Natural sciences and Mathematics. The College of Arts & Sciences has an average class size of 18 students, with over 80% having fewer than 24. Almost one-half of the undergraduate classes have fewer than 10 students. The student-faculty ratio is 7:1.[2]

The College of Arts & Sciences offers courses in over a dozen languages, including Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, German, French, Swahili, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Greek, Italian, Hindi, Portuguese, and Latin. The School of Continuing & Professional Studies in Arts & Sciences also offers course work in Swedish, Vietnamese, Irish, and Czech.

Business[edit]

Founded as the School of Commerce and Finance in 1917, the Olin Business School was named after entrepreneur John M. Olin in 1988. The school's academic programs include BSBA, MBA, Professional MBA (PMBA), Executive MBA (EMBA), Master of Science programs, Master of Accounting, Global Master of Finance Dual Degree program, and doctoral programs, as well as non-degree Executive Education. In 2002, an Executive MBA program was established in Shanghai, in cooperation with Fudan University.

Simon Hall is a part of the Olin Business School.

Olin has a network of more than 16,000 alumni worldwide.[80] In 2004, the school's endowment increased to $213 million (2004) and annual gifts average $12 million per year.[81] Simon Hall was opened in 1986 after a donation from John E. Simon. On May 2, 2014, the $90 million conjoined Knight and Bauer Halls were dedicated, following a $15 million gift from Charles F. Knight and Joanne Knight and a $10 million gift from George and Carol Bauer through the Bauer Foundation. The two buildings are joined by a three-story-high atrium and include spaces for lectures, faculty offices, and classrooms.

Undergraduate BSBA students take 40–60% of their courses within the business school. Students may also take elective courses from other disciplines at Washington University, including law and many other fields.

School of Design and Visual Arts[edit]

The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts was founded in 2006, merging the existing academic units of Architecture and Art with the university's museum. The School comprises

  • College of Architecture
  • Graduate School of Architecture & Urban Design
  • College of Art
  • Graduate School of Art
  • Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, considered one of the most distinguished university art collections in the country[82]

In October 2006 the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum moved into new facilities designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect, and former faculty member, Fumihiko Maki.[83] The art museum was first established in 1881 and was the first art museum west of the Mississippi River. It houses most of the university's art and sculpture collections, including pieces by Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Jenny Holzer, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Willem de Kooning, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, and Rembrandt van Rijn, among others.

McKelvey School of Engineering[edit]

Cupples Hall

With approximately $27 million in annual research awards, the school focuses intellectual efforts on medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship, and security.

On January 31, 2019, the School of Engineering & Applied Science was renamed to the James McKelvey School of Engineering.[84] This renaming honored trustee and distinguished alumnus Jim McKelvey Jr., the co-founder of Square, following his substantial donation.[85]

School of Continuing & Professional Studies[edit]

In June 2023, Washington University announced its renamed and revamped University College as the School of Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS).[86] CAPS was established to focus on adult learners with a focus on rapidly growing and high paying fields like data analytics, education, healthcare, and management.[86] The pre-nursing program was developed in partnership with Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College.[86]

School of Law[edit]

Anheuser Busch Hall, home to the School of Law

Washington University School of Law offers joint-degree programs with the Olin Business School, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Medicine, and the School of Social Work. It also offers LLM programs, a Master of Juridical Studies (MJS), and a Juris Doctoris (JD). The law school offers 3 semesters of courses in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and requires at least 85 credit hours of coursework for the JD.

The law school offers a full-time day program, beginning in August, for the J.D. degree. The law school is located in Anheuser-Busch Hall (opened in 1997).

Medicine[edit]

Washington University School of Medicine

The Washington University School of Medicine was established in 1891. In the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings of U.S. medical schools, it was ranked sixth for research[87] and tied for 31st for primary care.[88] The McDonnell Genome Institute (directed by Richard K. Wilson) is housed within the Washington University School of Medicine; it is one of three NIH-funded major DNA sequencing centers in the U.S. and played a significant role in the Human Genome Project.[89] In 2022, the Washington University School of Medicine ranked third among U.S. medical schools in terms of NIH funding received.[90][91]

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

Social Work and Public Health[edit]

With roots dating back to 1909 in the university's School of Social Economy, the George Warren Brown School of Social Work was founded in 1925. Brown's academic degree offerings include a Master of Social Work (MSW), a Master of Public Health (MPH), a PhD programs. The school was endowed by Bettie Bofinger Brown and named for her husband, George Warren Brown, a St. Louis philanthropist and co-founder of the Brown Shoe Company. The school was the first in the country to have a building for the purpose of social work education, and it is also a founding member of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health.

Former dental school[edit]

Established as the Missouri Dental College in 1866, the Washington University School of Dental Medicine was the first dental school west of the Mississippi River[92] and the sixth dental school in the United States. The school closed in 1991.[93]

Rankings and reputation[edit]

Academic rankings
National
ARWU[94]17
Forbes[95]27
U.S. News & World Report[96]24 (tie)
Washington Monthly[97]27
WSJ/College Pulse[98]26
Global
ARWU[99]25
QS[100]176 (tie)
THE[101]68
U.S. News & World Report[102]30

Washington University is ranked 24th in the nation in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report National Universities ranking,[103] and 11th by The Wall Street Journal in their 2018 rankings.[104] The university is ranked 25th in the world for 2019 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities.[105] Undergraduate admission to Washington University is characterized by the Carnegie Foundation and U.S. News & World Report as "most selective".[9][106] The Princeton Review, in its 2020 edition, gave the university an admissions selectivity rating of 99 out of 99.[107] The acceptance rate for the class of 2026 (those entering in the fall of 2022) was 11.3%, with students selected from more than 33,000 applications. Of students admitted, 91 percent were in the top 10 percent of their class.[108]

Seigle Hall, shared by the School of Law and the College of Arts and Sciences

The Princeton Review ranked Washington University first for Best College Dorms and third for Best College Food, Best-Run Colleges, and Best Financial Aid in its 2020 edition.[109] In its 2022 edition, Princeton Review also ranked Washington University as number 2 for "Top Entrepreneurship Under Ten Thousand Students", #1 for "Top Midwest Entreprenuerships", as a "Colleges That Create Futures" and of having a great quality of life.[110] Niche listed the university as the best college for architecture and the second-best college campus and college dorms in the United States in 2020.[111] The Washington University School of Medicine was ranked sixth for research by U.S. News & World Report in 2020 and has been listed among the top ten medical schools since the rankings were first published in 1987.[112] Additionally, U.S. News & World Report ranked the university's genetics and physical therapy as tied for first place.[113][114] QS World University Rankings ranked Washington University sixth in the world for anatomy and physiology in 2020.[115] In January 2020, Olin Business School was named the Poets&Quants MBA Program of 2019.[116]

Undergraduate admissions statistics
2020 entering
class[117]Change vs.
2015[118]

Admit rate10.0%
(Steady −0.7)
Yield rate40.2%
(Increase +5.1)
Test scores middle 50%
SAT Total1480-1560
(Increase +5 median)
ACT Composite33–35
(Increase +2.5 median)

Washington University was named one of the "25 New Ivies" by Newsweek in 2006[119] and has also been called a "Hidden Ivy".[120]

Eads Hall
Ridgley Hall

A 2014 study ranked Washington University #1 in the country for income inequality[121] About 22% of Washington University's students came from the top 1%, while only about 6% came from the bottom 60%.[122][123][124] In response to this, in 2015, university administration announced plans to increase the number of Pell-eligible recipients on campus from 6% to 13% by 2020,[125][126][127] and in 2019 15% of the university's student body was eligible for Pell Grants.[128] In October 2019, then newly inaugurated Chancellor Andrew D. Martin announced the "WashU Pledge", a financial aid program that provides a free undergraduate education to all full-time Missouri and Southern Illinois students who are Pell Grant-eligible or from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or less.[129]

The American Talent Initiative found Washington University had the highest Pell growth rate among 130 major universities between the 2015–16 and 2019–20 academic years.[130]

School Rankings
Ranking #
U.S. News & World Report (Medicine) 6[112]
U.S. News & World Report (Law) 16[131]
U.S. News & World Report (MBA) 30[132]
U.S. News & World Report (Social Work) 2[133]
BusinessWeek (BSBA) 25[134]
Financial Times (EMBA – World Rank) 8[135]

Research[edit]

More than 60% of undergraduates are involved in faculty research across all areas;[136] it is an institutional priority for undergraduates to be allowed to participate in advanced research. According to the Center for Measuring University Performance, it is considered to be one of the top 10 private research universities in the nation.[137] A dedicated Office of Undergraduate Research is located on the Danforth Campus and serves as a resource to post research opportunities, advise students in finding appropriate positions matching their interests, publish undergraduate research journals, and award research grants to make it financially possible to perform research.[138]

Brown Hall

According to the National Science Foundation, Washington University spent $989 million on research and development in 2021, ranking it 25th in the nation.[10][11] The university has over 150 National Institutes of Health funded inventions, with many of them licensed to private companies. Governmental agencies and non-profit foundations such as the NIH, United States Department of Defense, National Science Foundation, and NASA provide the majority of research grant funding, with Washington University being one of the top recipients in NIH grants from year-to-year. Nearly 80% of NIH grants to institutions in the state of Missouri went to Washington University alone in 2007.[139] Washington University and its Medical School play a large part in the Human Genome Project, where it contributes approximately 25% of the finished sequence.[140]

NASA hosts its Planetary Data System Geosciences Node on the campus of Washington University. Professors, students, and researchers have been heavily involved with many unmanned missions to Mars. Professor Raymond Arvidson has been deputy principal investigator of the Mars Exploration Rover mission and co-investigator of the Phoenix lander robotic arm.[141]

Washington University professor Joseph Lowenstein, with the assistance of several undergraduate students, has been involved in editing, annotating, making a digital archive of the first publication of poet Edmund Spenser's collective works in 100 years. A large grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities was given to support this project centralized at Washington University with support from other colleges in the United States.[142]

In 2019, Folding@Home, a distributed computing project for performing molecular dynamics simulations of protein dynamics, was moved to Washington University School of Medicine from Stanford University. The project, currently led by Greg Bowman, uses the idle CPU time of personal computers owned by volunteers to conduct protein folding research.[143] Folding@home's research is primarily focused on biomedical problems such as Alzheimer's disease, Cancer, Coronavirus disease 2019, and Ebola virus disease. In April 2020, Folding@home became the world's first exaFLOP computing system with a peak performance of 1.5 exaflops, making it more than seven times faster than the world's fastest supercomputer, Summit, and more powerful than the top 100 supercomputers in the world, combined.[144][145]

McDonnell International Scholars Academy[edit]

The McDonnell International Scholars Academy (MISA) is an alliance between universities that supports collaboration on research, development of joint educational opportunities, and joint research conferences.[146][147] The program is named after John F. McDonnell, who provided an initial $10 million gift to establish the academy in 2005.[148] MISA features a graduate-level endowed scholarship program for international students to study at Washington University.[149] Founded in 2005, the academy's core mission is to develop a community of future global leaders from partner institutions worldwide.[150] The program is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.[151]

Library system[edit]

Olin Library
Reading room in Anheuser-Busch Hall

The Washington University library system comprises 10 libraries, with the main library, Olin Library, centrally located on the Danforth Campus. According to the American Library Association, it is the 44th largest library in the United States in terms of volumes held, containing over 5.3 million volumes.[152] In 2020, the Princeton Review ranked the Olin Library among the top 10 "Best College Libraries" in the United States.[153] The remaining 9 libraries in the system include:

  • Al and Ruth Kopolow (Business) Library
  • Bernard Becker Medical Library
  • Brown School Library
  • East Asian Library
  • Gaylord Music Library
  • Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library
  • Law Library
  • West Campus Library

Campus life[edit]

Student body[edit]

In 2023, Washington University enrolled approximately 16,550 students who came from all 50 U.S. states and more than 110 countries.[154]

Of the 1,832 first year students enrolled in Fall 2023, 35% were Caucasian, 27% were Asian, 13% were Latino/Hispanic, 12% were Black/African-American, 11% were International, 1% were Native American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and 1% did not identity; 52% were female and 48% were male.[155]

Student organizations[edit]

Student body composition as of May 2, 2022
Race and ethnicity[156] Total
White 48% 48
 
Asian 18% 18
 
Hispanic 11% 11
 
Black 9% 9
 
Other[a] 7% 7
 
Foreign national 7% 7
 
Economic diversity
Low-income[b] 15% 15
 
Affluent[c] 85% 85
 

Washington University has over 300 undergraduate student organizations on campus.[157] Most are funded by the Washington University Student Union, which, as of fiscal year 2024, has an annual budget of $4.2 million.[158] The Student Union sponsors large-scale campus programs including WILD (a semesterly concert in the quad) and free copies of the New York Times, USA Today, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch through The Collegiate Readership Program; it also funds the campus television station, WUTV, and the radio station, KWUR. KWUR was named best radio station in St. Louis of 2003 by the Riverfront Times despite the fact its signal reaches only a few blocks beyond the boundaries of the campus.[159] The Congress of the South 40 (CS40) is a Residential Life and Events Programming Board, which operates outside of the SU sphere. CS40's funding comes from the housing activities fee of each student living in the South 40.

Women's Building

Many of these organizations and other campus life amenities are housed in the $43 million Danforth University Center on the Danforth Campus, also dedicated in honor of emeritus Chancellor William Henry Danforth.[160] The building opened on August 11, 2008.[161]

McMillan Hall

Washington University has a large number of student-run musical groups on campus, including 13 official a cappella groups. The Pikers, an all-male group, is the oldest such group on campus. The Greenleafs, an all-female group is the oldest (and only) female group on campus. The Mosaic Whispers, founded in 1991, is the oldest co-ed group on campus. They have produced 9 albums and have appeared on a number of compilation albums, including Ben Folds' Ben Folds Presents: University A Cappella! The Amateurs, who also appeared on this album, is another co-ed a cappella group on campus, founded in 1991. They have recorded seven albums and toured extensively. After Dark[162] is a co-ed a cappella group founded in 2001. It has released three albums and has won several Contemporary A Capella Recording (CARA) awards. In 2008 the group performed on MSNBC during coverage of the vice presidential debate with specially written songs about Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.[163]

Greek life[edit]

Fraternity Buildings

Washington University has eleven fraternities and nine sororities on campus. In 2020, a large number of Greek life members, primarily from sororities permanently deactivated from their chapters as a result of perceived systematic oppression, racism, and sexism.[164] Some students called for the total abolition of Greek Life on campus.[164] As of Spring 2021, approximately 14% of the student body participated in Greek life.[165]

Residences[edit]

Most of the residence halls on campus are located on the South 40, named because of its adjacent location on the south side of the Danforth Campus and its size of 40 acres (16 ha). It is the location of all freshman buildings as well as several sophomore buildings, which are set up in the traditional residential college system. All of the residential halls are co-ed. The South 40 is organized as a pedestrian-friendly environment wherein residences surround a central recreational lawn known as the Swamp. Bear's Den (the largest dining hall on campus), the Habif Health and Wellness Center (Student Health Services), the Residential Life Office, University police Headquarters, various student-owned businesses, and the baseball, softball, and intramural fields located on the South 40.

The South 40
Clocktower located in the South 40

Another group of residences, known as the Village, is located in the northwest corner of Danforth Campus. Only open to upperclassmen and January Scholars, the North Side consists of Millbrook Apartments, The Village, Village East on-campus apartments, and all fraternity houses except the Zeta Beta Tau house, which is off campus and located just northwest 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 Living Learning Communities (LLCs), to live together in clustered suites . Like the South 40, the residences around the Village also surround a recreational lawn.

In addition to South 40 and North Side residence halls, Washington University owns several other buildings within walking distance to Danforth Campus, which are open to upperclassmen. They include the Rosedale Apartments, University Drive apartments (consisting of approximately eight buildings directly across Forest Park Parkway from the Danforth Campus), Greenway Apartments, and the Lofts. Until Spring 2024, three additional buildings (520 Kingsland, 6678 Washington Ave, and 6665 Washington Ave) were offered as three-person apartments for upperclassmen but will be converted to graduate student housing after the 2023-2024 academic year.

Student media[edit]

Washington University supports four major student-run media outlets. The university's student-run newspaper, Student Life, is published twice a week under the auspices of Washington University Student Media, Inc., an independent not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1999. The paper was first founded in 1878.

KWUR (90.3 FM) serves as the students' official radio station; the station also attracts an audience in the immediately surrounding community due to its eclectic and free-form musical programming. WUTV is the university's closed-circuit television channel.

The university's main student-run political publication is the Washington University Political Review (nicknamed "WUPR"), a self-described "multipartisan" monthly magazine. 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 WUnderground, the student-run satirical newspaper.[166]

Athletics[edit]

Washington University was a founding member of the University Athletic Association of NCAA Division III[167] and previously was a founding member of the Missouri Valley Conference. Between 1907 and 1942, Washington University played with what are now classified as NCAA Division I teams. The Bears have won 24 NCAA Division III Championships— two in women's cross country (2011, 2018), two in women's indoor track and field (2017, 2023), one in women's outdoor track and field (2017), one in men's tennis (2008), two in men's basketball (2008, 2009), five in women's basketball (1998–2001, 2010),[168] ten in women's volleyball (1989, 1991–1996, 2003, 2007, 2009),[169] and one in women's soccer (2016)[170] – and 262 conference titles in 16 different sports.[171]

Francis Olympic Field during the 1904 St. Louis Olympics

Washington University hosts 42 club sports.[154] The Washington University men's club water polo team has been particularly successful, capturing the Collegiate Water Polo Association Division III Club National Championship title in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.[172][173] Funding for club sports comes from the Student Union budget, as each club is deemed a campus group.

Washington University is home of Francis Olympic Field, site of the 1904 Summer Olympics. Francis Field is also home of the Washington University football, soccer, and track and field teams.

Traditions[edit]

Gates at Francis Field
  • WILD – Walk In, Lay Down, the semesterly concert in the Quad which brings in popular musical acts. The future of WILD remains unclear with multiple cancelled events due to COVID and university concerns an alternative event NAP was run in Fall 2023 off campus in an attempt to redefine WILD.[174]
  • Thurtene Carnival – The oldest and largest student-run carnival in the nation,[175][176] run by Thurtene Honorary.[177]
  • Vertigo – A dance party put on by the Engineering School Council (EnCouncil), featuring an innovative 8-by-16-foot (2.4 by 4.9 m) computer-controlled modular LED illuminated dance floor built by students.
  • Cultural shows – Each year Washington University student groups put on several multicultural shows. Ashoka, the South Asian student association, puts on a performance for Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, that includes a skit and dances. Black Anthology is a student-run performance arts show celebrating black culture. Lunar New Year Festival is a student group that puts on a performance in collaboration with a philanthropic partner organization to celebrate the Lunar New Year through various Asian performing arts. Africa Week and the African Film Festival are annual events hosted by the African Students Association. Finally, the Association of Latin American Students showcases various forms of Latin and Spanish dances during their performance, Carnaval.
  • Brookings Hall – A superstition among students to never step on the university seal at Brookings Hall. It is said that doing so will prevent one from graduating on time.[178]
  • Convocation – A large gathering for new students and their families intended to welcome them to the university. Among others, it includes speeches from seniors and university leadership.[179]
  • DUC N' Donuts – Taking place on the first Friday of every month at the Danforth University Center (DUC), this tradition allows students to learn about monthly events while enjoying free coffee and donuts.[180]
  • Cheap Lunch – Every Wednesday, the Engineering School Council (EnCouncil), provides pizza, chips, and cookies for a low cost.[181]
  • Art Prom – Every Spring, students from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts host a “formal” dance with a creative twist.[182]
  • Underpass Panels – A series of panels along the walls of the underpass connecting the South 40 to the main Danforth Campus. Tradition involves the painting of each panel by students and clubs to advertise upcoming events. Located adjacent to the underpass is a large concrete ball, a concrete cube, and pyramid, also painted to advertise student events.[183]

Notable people[edit]

Washington University has over 19,000 faculty and staff members and over 156,000 living alumni. Awards and honors recognizing Washington University alumni and faculty include the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, U.S. Poet Laureate, National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Medal of Science, National Medal of Arts, Rhodes Scholarship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship, Putnam Fellowship, MacArthur Prize, and membership in the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Royal Society of London, American Institute of Architects, American Academy of Arts and Letters, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Law Institute, American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Medicine, and American Academy of Arts and Sciences[13]

Alumni[edit]

Notable undergrad alumni feature prominent figures across various fields, such as the chairman of Manchester United Avram Glazer;[184] Lionsgate Films CEO, Jon Feltheimer;[185] Men's Wearhouse founder, George Zimmer;[186] former Greenpeace executive director, Phil Radford;[187] Gilead Sciences founder, Michael L. Riordan;[188] Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia, Siniša Mali;[189] Missouri Senator, Jim Talent;[190] Nevada Senator, Chic Hecht;[191] Nebraska Congressman, Hal Daub;[192] Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, Ken Cooper[193][194] and Hank Klibanoff;[195] Tony Award-winning theatrical producer, David Merrick;[196][197] baseball player, Dal Maxvill;[198] and the first director of the World Health Organization's Global Program on AIDS, Jonathan Mann.[199] Additionally, the list includes science show host, Deanne Bell (Design Squad);[200] New York Times best-selling author, Susannah Cahalan;[201] character actress, Mary Wickes;[202] television actor, Johnny Kastl;[203] 41st Attorney General of Missouri, Chris Koster;[204] Paralympic Gold Medalist, Kendall Gretsch;[205] and radical feminist, Shulamith Firestone.[206] Undergraduate alumni also include co-inventor of nylon Julian W. Hill;[207] co-discoverer of the neutrino Clyde Cowan;,[208] Governor of Illinois James R. Thompson;[209] U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Sam Fox;[210] Edward S. Holden, president of the University of California;[211] Thomas Lamb Eliot,[212] founder of Reed College; and Abram L. Sachar,[213] founding president of Brandeis University. Graduates of the College of Architecture include George Hellmuth,[214] Gyo Obata,[215] and George Kassabaum,[216] founders of HOK, the world's fourth-largest architectural firm.

Graduate School alumni include Nobel laureates Earl Sutherland,[217] Edwin Krebs,[218] and Daniel Nathans[219] who all graduated from the School of Medicine. Businessman and adventurer Steve Fossett[220] earned his MBA from the business school. Law school graduate, Joseph Poindexter[221] was governor of Hawaii during the Pearl Harbor attack. Doctoral alumni include the former presidents of Johns Hopkins, Clemson, Wake Forest, Morehouse, Mount Union, Yonsei, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Mike Simpson, the U.S. representative for Idaho's 2nd congressional district is a graduate of the Dental School.[222][223]

Notable individuals who attended but did not graduate include playwright Tennessee Williams (who left in protest at not winning a playwriting prize);[224][225] Charles Eames, who was expelled for defending modernist architecture;[226] Jack C. Taylor, the founder of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, who withdrew to fight in World War II;[227] Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author Bill Dedman, who left to pursue a career as a newspaper reporter;[228] and Marilyn vos Savant, the IQ-record holder, who left to assist with a family investment business.[229]

Faculty[edit]

Notable faculty include 56th governor of Missouri Eric Greitens;[257] economist Hyman Minsky;[258] novelists Stanley Elkin[259] and William H. Gass;[260][261] poet Carl Phillips;[262] architect Louis C. Spering;[263] artist Max Beckmann;[264] sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson;[265][266] writer and culture critic Gerald Early;[267] twice United States Poet Laurette, Howard Nemerov;[268][269] founder of the American Association of University Professors, Arthur Oncken Lovejoy;[270] chemist Joseph W. Kennedy, co-discoverer of the element plutonium;[271] first woman Director of both the National Gallery of Canada and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Jean Sutherland Boggs;[272] and chemist Holden Thorp, editor-in-chief of Science Magazine.[273]

  1. ^ Other consists of Multiracial Americans & those who prefer to not say.
  2. ^ The percentage of students who received an income-based federal Pell grant intended for low-income students.
  3. ^ The percentage of students who are a part of the American middle class at the bare minimum.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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