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Rockefeller and Harper in 1901

Rockefeller and Harper in 1901

The modern-day University of Chicago was founded in 1890 by the American Baptist Education Society and oil magnate John D. Rockefeller. The University’s land was donated by Marshall Field, owner of the legendary Chicago department store that bore his name. Rockefeller described the donation as “the best investment I ever made.”

At left is John D. Rockefeller walking with William Rainey Harper, the first president of the University of Chicago, to the commencement ceremonies at the Hyde Park campus in 1901. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870 and was America's richest philanthropist who was a financial benefactor for the new university. According to legend, Rockefeller said of Harper, "I gave him an unlimited budget and he exceeded it."

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