Schapiro visits DC to field support for Strategic Plan

Lauren Caruba

Northwestern President Morton Schapiro made a trip to Washington, D.C., last week as part of his continuing efforts to fundraise and promote the University’s Strategic Plan, NorthWEstern Will.

Schapiro spent Monday and Tuesday in the capital discussing the current state of the University and its future plans with congressional representatives and NU alumni.

Al Cubbage, vice president for University relations, said Schapiro’s trip last week represents his ongoing traveling and fundraising efforts throughout this academic year.

“The president has been traveling a lot this year, meeting with people to talk about the University’s Strategic Plan and also to lay the groundwork for what is expected to be a major fundraising campaign that will begin in some point in the future,” Cubbage said.

Schapiro spoke to about 200 alumni and University donors at a reception held Tuesday at Washington’s Willard InterContinental Hotel, said Bob McQuinn, vice president for alumni relations and development.

At the reception, Schapiro discussed many of the issues brought up during the recent “Conversation with the President,” events, which took place April 10 on NU’s Chicago campus and April 12 on the Evanston campus.

McQuinn said the president travels almost every week to explain the methods of the Strategic Plan to alumni and donors across the country and abroad.

“The Strategic Plan is preparing a long-term vision,” McQuinn said. “We’re setting the stage for the broader audience to understand that we have big ideas and we’re making progress. This will help fill in the gaps between what we want to do and the resources we have.”

Medill senior Alex Katz spoke at the alumni reception about his experiences completing his journalism residency as a political correspondent for the Washington bureau of The Boston Globe this past Fall Quarter.

Katz said both his own speech and Schapiro’s were aimed at illustrating to patrons the University’s recent accomplishments.

“It was to show donors, ‘This is what your money’s going towards,'” Katz said. “It’s to help students do some really great things.”

In addition to the alumni event, Schapiro met with numerous congressional representatives, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the University’s response to a call for research proposals by the Department of Energy. NU is looking to secure a $125 million federal grant to fund the development of more efficient, longer-lasting batteries, said Jay Walsh, vice president for research at NU.

The money, to be spent over five years, would be used for renewable energy research in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Walsh said.

“We should be able to make major breakthroughs,” Walsh said. “We wanted to tell that story to our congressional legislature that this was coming. We wanted them to know that we were collaborating with others in the area and that we have real strength in battery storage.”

The battery research falls under the “Discover creative solutions” section of the Strategic Plan, which includes generating solutions for renewable energy as one of the goals for NU researchers.

Cubbage said Schapiro tends to travel more this time of year because he does not teach classes during Spring Quarter. He added that in-person interactions with alumni and potential donors allow the president to more effectively communicate the future direction of the University.

“Face-to-face communication is still very important and very effective,” Cubbage said. “If you’re talking about important issues and important subjects, it’s important to talk to someone personally.” Katz said he was impressed with the reception’s turnout, adding that Schapiro’s attempts to reach out to individuals beyond campus will help improve the University as a whole.

“If what they did in D.C. is what they’re doing across the country and across the world, we’re definitely in good hands, and the school will continue to benefit from these sorts of events,” he said.

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