President Harry Woodburn Chase came to the University in Illinois in 1930, after having served as president of the University of North Carolina. He began his career there as professor of the philosophy of education and psychology. His formal education had been completed at Dartmouth College and Clark University.
After a temporary stay at the former president's house, Chase became the first to reside in the new President's House on Florida Avenue. The harsh economy resulting from the 1929 stock market crash made it impossible for Chase to have funds allocated for new buildings. In addition to the President's House, however, five buildings were added through funds appropriated under President Kinley's administration: Chemical Annex, Women's Gymnasium, Ice Skating Rink, the water filter plant, and the first unit of the medical laboratory in Chicago. The College of Fine and Applied Arts and the College of Physical Education were created within the University's existing budget through the re-organization of existing departments.
Chase focused on the re-organization of the institution's administrative structure. He dissolved the Council of Administration and replaced it with the University Council, placing the focus on important advisory and planning functions. He secured the appointment of a provost to assist in the administration of educational and financial programs.
He felt students ought to assume greater responsibility for their own direction; thus, he reduced the number of regulations governing students from 138 to 39. Student discipline was separated from advisement, the former becoming the responsibility of a faculty committee and the latter of the deans of men and women.
Chase resigned in 1933 after being named the chancellor of New York University.