In November 1944, Edward Sparling, then president of the Central YMCA College was asked by the board how many black students were enrolled in the college. At the time quotas on the number of non-white students were common. When Sparling insisted on knowing the purpose of the question, "some unpleasantness occurred in a Board Meeting." Believing that higher education should be available to all, regardless of race, gender, or religion, Sparling would not comply. When the board informed him that he should start looking for another job Sparling proposed that the college separate itself from the YMCA. When that failed, he enlisted the help of Marshall Field and others to establish a new college to be named after Thomas Jefferson because of his efforts on behalf of equality.
On April 9, 1945 incorporation papers were drawn up and on April 24th Edward Sparling and most of the faculty submitted a mass letter of resignation. Two days later, the college was officially renamed Roosevelt College in memory of Franklin Roosevelt, who had died earlier that month. On September 9th registration opened and on September 24th classes began. The college was officially dedicated by Eleanor Roosevelt on November 16, 1945.
The RU Archives would like to thank all those who stood up for a better way and made Roosevelt University a reality.