Illinois Institute of Technology History and Campuses

In 1890, when advanced education was often reserved for society’s elite, Chicago minister Frank Wakely Gunsaulus delivered what came to be known as the “Million Dollar Sermon.” From the pulpit of his South Side church, near the site Illinois Institute of Technology now occupies, Gunsaulus said that with a million dollars he could build a school where students of all backgrounds could prepare for meaningful roles in a changing industrial society.

Inspired by Gunsaulus’s vision, Philip Danforth Armour Sr. (1832–1901) gave $1 million to found Armour Institute. Armour, his wife, Malvina Belle Ogden Armour (1842–1927), and their son J. (Jonathan) Ogden Armour (1863–1927) continued to support the university in its early years. When Armour Institute opened in 1893, it offered professional courses in engineering, chemistry, architecture, and library science.

Illinois Tech was created in 1940 by the merger of Armour Institute and Lewis Institute. Located on the west side of Chicago, Lewis Institute, established in 1895 by the estate of hardware merchant and investor Allen C. Lewis, offered liberal arts as well as science and engineering courses for both men and women. At separate meetings held by their respective boards on October 26, 1939, the trustees of Armour and Lewis voted to merge the two colleges. A Cook County circuit court decision on April 23, 1940 solidified the merger.

The Institute of Design (ID), founded in Chicago by Làszlò Moholy-Nagy in 1937, merged with Illinois Tech in 1949.

Chicago-Kent College of Law, founded in 1887, became part of the university in 1969, making Illinois Institute of Technology one of the few technology-based universities with a law school.

Also in 1969, Stuart School of Management and Finance—now known as Stuart School of Business—was established thanks to a gift from the estate of Lewis Institute alumnus and Chicago financier Harold Leonard Stuart. The program became Stuart School of Business in 1999.

The Midwest College of Engineering, founded in 1967, joined the university in 1986, giving Illinois Tech a presence in west suburban Wheaton with what is today known as the Rice Campus—home to Illinois Tech’s School of Applied Technology.

In December 2006 University Technology Park at Illinois Institute of Technology, an incubator and life sciences/tech startup facility, was started in existing research buildings located on the south end of Mies Campus. University Tech Park at Illinois Institute of Technology is now home to many companies.

Today, Illinois Tech is a private, Ph.D.-granting research university with programs in engineering, science, human sciences, applied technology, architecture, business, design, and law. One of the 21 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), Illinois Tech offers exceptional preparation for professions that require technological sophistication. Through a committed faculty and close personal attention, Illinois Tech provides a challenging academic program focused by the rigor of the real world.

The university has five campuses in the Chicago area. The 120-acre Mies Campus, centered at 33rd and State streets in Chicago, as well as many of its buildings, were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who directed the architecture program at Illinois Tech from 1938–1958 and was one of the twentieth century’s most influential architects. S. R. Crown Hall, home of Illinois Tech College of Architecture, was named a National Historic Landmark in 2001, and part of the Illinois Tech Mies Campus was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Chicago and Its Environs

Chicago is world renowned for its museums and architecture, and offers exceptional career and internship opportunities in all of Illinois Tech’s fields of study. The city and its surroundings form an international center of finance and law, a manufacturing and transportation hub, and the home of two national research laboratories (Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory), as well as numerous medical facilities and corporate headquarters.

Diversions range from a world-class symphony orchestra to major league sports teams. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, Chicago boasts miles of attractive beaches and parks for jogging, biking, swimming, and boating. Ethnic neighborhoods throughout the city provide an international array of cultures and cuisine. Chicago is also rich in live theater, and music clubs abound.