History & Mission

The Center for Leadership and Involvement Mission 

The Center for Leadership and Involvement supports the goals of the University of Chicago by creating meaningful involvement opportunities and fostering inclusive environments which advance student learning.

We pursue our mission by promoting leadership development, cultivating a sense of campus community, and inviting exploration and discovery. 

The Center for Leadership and Involvement Guiding Principles

Innovation

We continually seek dynamic and sustainable approaches to enhance our work, challenge assumptions, and promote strategies to advance student learning and post-graduate success.

Integrity

We exercise the highest ethical and professional standards in our advancement of the student experience.

Collaboration

The Center for Leadership and Involvement  affirms that we make our greatest impact through the development of meaningful and strategic partnerships.

Excellence  

We strive to improve our work through the ongoing evaluation of our programs and services. We apply our varied strengths and talents to provide exceptional and authentic customer service to all of our clients.

The Reynolds Club

The Reynolds Club, originally deemed The Tower Group, is located on the southwest corner at 5706 South University Avenue. 

In 1895, Mrs. Joseph Reynolds donated to the university to establish a memorial of her late husband. Leon Mandel along with Harold F. McCormick, John J. Mitchell and Charles L Hutchison, contributed to fund the construction of The Reynolds Club.

Mr. Hutchinson felt that the lack of a University Commons, was an urgent need. Mr. McCormick’s contribution was put into the Commons Cafe, a smaller dining hall which is now where the Hallowed Grounds Coffee Shop resides.This area of the building was originally designed for male students only, as a place for them to take their meals and congregate.

Mr. Mandel felt the University must construct an Assembly hall and pipe organ, and he contributed specifically for what is now Mandel Hall, located at 5700 South University Avenue, and connected to the Reynolds Club.

Part of the building houses the John J. Mitchell Bell Tower, which is modeled after the Magdalen College Tower at Oxford University. Mr. Mitchell cheerfully consented to have his contribution go into the construction of the tower. The Mitchell Tower was made the central feature. Inside, the Alice Freeman Palmer chimes were installed in honor of the first Dean of Women. When construction was finished, it was arranged that every night a five minutes past ten o’clock the chimes should send out over the quadrangles the melody of the alma mater indicating that the day was ended and that the hour for rest had come.

The Reynolds Club is also home to Hutchinson Commons, which is modeled, nearly identically, after the Dining Hall of Christ Church. When it was first constructed, the president’s quarterly receptions were held here along with convocation dinners, alumni banquets, football feasts and other social functions and gatherings. Hutchinson Commons is currently used as a dining hall and lounge.

Shortly after its construction, The Reynolds Club quickly became the headquarters of social life on campus. In 1902, the Reynolds Club contained a billiard room, bowling alley, library, a reading room a theater and numerous committee rooms.

The Center for Leadership and Involvement

The University of Chicago had a Student Activities office for a long time that did great work to support student groups on campus. In 1995, the Office however, lacked a central location for its advising needs.

After consulting with students, faculty, staff and alumni, the student activities staff, headed by Bill Michel, now the executive director for the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, decided that it was necessary to enhance the support they were able to provide to students. Soon after it was decided that the Student Activities office, which was then housed out of Ida Noyes Hall, would to the Reynolds Club. Before the move took place, however a complete renovation of the Reynolds Club needed to happen. At this time the Reynolds Club was being used to house a few Student Organizations. It was decided that the Reynolds Club would be re-envisioned and restored to it’s original purpose as the campus central hub for student life. It was already a popular destination for students, and the best place for the office to reside.

With help and input from students on the designs and the furniture, a complete transformation of the lower level took place to include staff office space, 001, and a computer lab, as most students did not own PC’s. RSO offices were created including the University Community Service Center, Founded by Michelle Obama, which at the time was a student Organization. The Hutchison commons food court was constructed along with Hallowed Grounds Coffee shop. The entire renovation process, done in partnership with Student Government, helped create Council on Registered Student Organizations (CORSO) to help engage the students and enhance their experience. Graduate Student Council was also created to reorganize Student Activities Fees.

The Reynolds Club has become a vibrant and welcoming center for students and currently serves as the home of WHPK, the university’s campus radio station, and is still thought of as the hub of student life.The building offers a variety of dining options, as well as performance spaces and meeting rooms to be reserved for students free of charge.