Overview and History of Uni High

University Laboratory High School is a selective admission, public, laboratory school sanctioned by the State of Illinois and associated with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The school serves academically talented students, residing in Illinois, from the subfreshman level (combined 7th and 8th grades) through high school.

University Laboratory High School, or Uni High, or just Uni, was established in 1921 and is a laboratory school located on the campus of the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois. Its enrollment is approximately 300 students, spanning five years (the traditional 9th through 12th grades, preceded by a composite 7th and 8th grade year known as the "subfreshman" year). The school is notable for the achievements of its alumni, including three Nobel laureates and a Pulitzer Prize winner; in 2006 and 2007 it was recognized as a "public elite" school by Newsweek because of its students' high scores on the SAT. According to its mission statement, Uni is a catalyst for educational innovation. For example, a Uni faculty member initiated the New Math program. Uni seeks to spark the creative fervor and high aspirations of its students and to inspire them to excellence. The faculty at Uni challenge students through traditional and experimental strategies to ignite their potential for active, responsible involvement in the adult world. Uni is a publicly-funded but competitive enrollment school. It receives support from general state aid per studnet, but not from local property taxes. For many years, it was funded by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's College of Education as a place to experiment with educational curricula, but the College of Education withdrew its support in the early 1980s. The "laboratory" aspect persists in certain classes. An experimental math course was taught in the early 2000s and teachers continue to experiment in small, creative ways with their courses to adapt to each grade of approximately sixty students.

While the College of Education no longer provides direct financial support for Uni, the relationship between the University and the school imparts a number of benefits on Uni's students. Students are allowed free access to the University's campus during the school day. They also have access to the University's library system equivalent to that of any undergraduate. It is for this reason that the high school library is technically "the largest high school library in the world." Additionally, Kenney Gym, the University's old men's gymnasium, is used by Uni for both physical education and as practice and game space for the volleyball and basketball teams.

As a public school, Uni does not charge tuition. The Illinois State Board of Education provides the greatest portion of funds to operate the school. Because Uni serves students from all across the state of Illinois, it is not part of a school district and receives no local property tax dollars. As a result, Uni seeks support from other sources. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign of which Uni is a unit provides some salary support, utilities, building maintenance and other services. Donations from private sources ensure that the experiences of today's students rival those of our remarkable graduates. For the 2011-2012 school year Uni raised $989,836 in private donations from parents, alumni and friends and a deferred gift of $260,000 to establish the John E. Finch, M.D. University Laboratory High School Faculty Support Fund endowment.

For more historical information on Uni High: Preface    Past Administrators

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