UIC History, Traditions, Symbols

Brief History

The first mention of a University of Illinois in Chicago appears in a resolution passed by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees at its first meeting in 1867, favoring the establishment of a campus in Chicago. The resolution became reality when the Chicago College of Pharmacy became the School of Pharmacy of the University of Illinois in 1894. In 1897, the College of Physicians and Surgeons joined the university and became known as the Department of Medicine. As the decades passed, more health-related programs were added, including dentistry and nursing.

In 1946, the university opened a two-year undergraduate division at Navy Pier to serve veterans returning from World War II. A total of 100,000 students attended classes on the pier in the next two decades. Demand for a larger, four-year facility led to the opening of the architecturally acclaimed eastern portion of the campus in 1965. It was known as the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle.

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) was formed in 1982 by the consolidation of the University of Illinois at the Medical Center and the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle into a single institution of higher learning.

UIC Today

Today UIC is the largest institution of higher learning in the Chicago area and one of the top 100 research universities in the United States. UIC has a total enrollment of over 25,000, including over 8,000 graduate and professional students.

Although UIC has a large enrollment, we make the most of our size by offering an extraordinary breadth of high quality academic programs and a range of student opportunities available at few other universities in the country. Through 15 academic colleges and professional schools, the university offers 88 bachelor’s degrees, as well as a wide range of graduate and professional programs, in the humanities, mathematics, sciences, social sciences, architecture, art, business administration, education, engineering, kinesiology, social work, and urban planning. We also offer degree programs in applied health sciences, dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health.

Our faculty is recognized nationally and internationally for its teaching, research, and service. Our professors include inventors of artificial skin, renowned experts in robotics, and architects whose work is seen throughout the world. Some of our professors have presented lectures at the White House, consulted with the mayor of Chicago, and written award-winning novels.

Our students come from Chicago and its suburbs and from every state in the United States, including the three U.S. territories, and over 100 foreign countries. Our student body is rich in its diversity, its youth and maturity, and its cultural heritage. Of the more than 16,000 undergraduate students, 55 percent are female and 45 percent are male. Minority enrollments comprise 50 percent of the total enrollment. Approximately 10 percent of our students live in residence halls on campus, the rest commute to and from campus every day. Many full-time students hold part-time jobs, both on and off campus. In addition, a large number find time to participate in one or more of the approximately 200 campus student organizations.

We think that going to school with students, faculty, and staff who have come from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds is one of the most valuable experiences students can have. Learning to respect and live with people different from ourselves is one of the lessons students learn at UIC.


Traditions are an important part of college life. They give a university its special character, and they make life on campus more fun. Even though we are a young institution, we already have our traditions. Some, like the Golden Apple Award for teachers in the College of Medicine, go back more than half a century. Others, such as Homecoming and Family Weekend are just being established.

Each season has its own celebrations. In the summer there is New Student Orientation. In the fall there are intramural football games played across the street from the Student Residence Hall, Greek rush, and Family Weekend. Winter brings Homecoming, but as the weather improves and the school year comes to an end, everything heats up. Classes move outdoors. Concerts are held next to the residence halls. The crab apple trees blossom and romances bloom. The Honors College conducts Honors Day, and other colleges have special convocation ceremonies to honor their best students. Students celebrate UIC’s amazing cultural diversity at International Day in April. Fraternities and sororities celebrate Greek Week. And graduating nurses celebrate convocation by jumping into the Chicago Illini Union pool wearing their student-nurse uniforms.

UIC Symbols: School Colors, Mascot, Song

Our athletic teams are known as the “Flames,” a name chosen by UIC students in honor of the Great Chicago Fire. You’ll see the Flame on sweatshirts, the gym floor, and of course, on team uniforms. And you’ll see a lot of flame red and indigo blue – our school colors.

The Flames mascot is the fire-breathing dragon. The story is that the dragon was hatched on October 11, 1986, from a large egg found at the Pavilion a few weeks earlier. It has been at all UIC sports events cheering on the teams ever since.

Fight Song – Fire Up Flames
By Roland F. Rose
Fire Up Flames!
We stand behind you,
We love the red and blue!
We’ll cheer you on to victory
We’ll be there o’so true!
Fire Up Flames!
You’ll be a winner.
They’ll find it hot
When you turn up the heat!
So march on today to victory
‘Cause we cannot be beat!

Alma mater – May the Flames Burn Brightly Forever
By Gary Klaff & Mark Weinstein

May the Flames burn brightly forever.
May the torch be raised on high.
From the Pier to the prairie.
To the strength of Illinois.
May our colors long stand proudly.
Across Chicago’s sky
May the memories cherish,
the start of all our dreams for tomorrow.
The start of all our dreams for tomorrow
The heart of Illinois in Chicago.
The heart of Illinois in Chicago

UIC Jargon: What Are They Talking About?

When you first get to campus, you may feel as if everyone is speaking an alphabetic code – OAR, LAS, SSB, CIU, UH. As in any large institution, people find shortcuts for talking about things. At UIC (the University of Illinois at Chicago), buildings, majors, colleges, offices, and even programs are often known by their initials. This on-line handbook, for example, uses initials for all references to campus buildings. You may find this list helpful when communicating on campus.