Dean's Message

Message from Former Dean Mark Nemac:

When William Rainey Harper became the founding president of the University of Chicago, he spearheaded a radical experiment predicated on the belief that higher learning should be marked by research, not recitation; by extension, not insularity. Central to this experiment was a commitment to lifelong learning—an effort, as he said, to “reach those who lived beyond campus and did not fall into established categories of students.” In Harper’s view, continuing education was crucial in helping to create “a community in which interest in a higher education is widely spread.”

From the start, the University Extension—now known as the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies—broadened the University’s reach far beyond Chicago, ultimately creating a worldwide community of teachers and learners.

Today’s Graham School builds on Harper’s vision for the modern university. Our fundamental belief is that the University’s eminence is enhanced by extending our inquiry and impact to ever broader audiences in ever more innovative ways.

Graham School offerings combine the scholarly rigor on which the University’s reputation was built with progressive programming designed to meet students’ ongoing needs. We serve as a bridge for students and also offer programs to which alumni return throughout their lives. As a result, Graham School students’ time at the University of Chicago is not experienced as simply a moment of study, but rather as the joining of an academic community that will serve as an intellectual destination for years to come.

At the time of UChicago’s founding, the forces of urbanization, globalization, and technology drove the creation of the modern university. Today, these and other demographic and economic forces are combining to redefine higher education once again. The University of Chicago was a model of the 20th century university and Graham is committed to supporting the University’s efforts to be a model of the 21st century institution as well.

We are dedicated to expanding the University’s eminence through four areas of activity: we extend the reach of the University’s inquiry and impact through professional studies programs in newly emerging, multi-disciplinary fields; we span the continuum of higher education to offer new entry points for learning; we support the tradition of rigorous inquiry for diverse audiences in the liberal arts; and we experiment by exploring, developing, and implementing pioneering modalities and approaches to teaching and learning. In addition, Graham serves as an instrument of innovation in areas of University-wide strategic importance with a particular emphasis on online pedagogy and digital engagement.

Graham is thrilled to celebrate over 125 years and honored to be the first continuing education unit in a university in the United States. We invite you to explore our programs and offerings and while you engage with us we trust you will sense our great respect for our rich heritage as well as our significant commitment to serving as the center of innovative lifelong learning at the University of Chicago.

Mark R. Nemec

Dean, Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies