Schapiro talks Northwestern successes, future initiatives


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

University President Morton Schapiro answers audience questions after his “Conversations with President Schapiro” talk in the McCormick Tribune Center on Thursday morning. Schapiro will hold a similar event Wednesday at Northwestern’s Chicago campus.

Rebecca Savransky, Campus Editor

University President Morton Schapiro held a forum on Thursday to share and discuss the University’s challenges and successes over the past year and his goals for the future.

Students and faculty filled the McCormick Tribune Center for Schapiro’s talks. Schapiro spoke for half of the 90-minute time slot before opening the floor to those interested in asking questions.

During the speech, Schapiro covered a variety of topics, including the progression of certain undergraduate programs, diversity and inclusion improvements and campus construction projects.

He began the speech by commending the University for its significant accomplishments and noting his appreciation for staff members for their continued devotion to NU.

“I’m proud to say that the staff at Northwestern is one of the things that distinguishes us from other great peer institutions,” Schapiro said. “I’ve never been in a place where the staff were more eager to recognize themselves as educators.”

NU is currently a member of the Association of American Universities, an accomplishment Schapiro said distinguishes the University. He added NU moved up the rankings in this organization and is currently in the top third. The University’s focus on research and the medical advances it has made further allowed NU to gain this more prestigious ranking, he said.

“We’re keeping people alive longer, keeping them healthier. It’s really amazing stuff that we’re doing,” Schapiro said. “I’m excited to be one of the 26 great private research universities in this entire country and I’m very proud that we’re in the top third of this unbelievably prestigious group.”

He also brought up specific programs relating to socioeconomic status and the importance of inclusion within the campus community. He said the University is striving to increase diversity, an initiative he said has been successful so far. He also specifically mentioned the NU Class Confessions Tumblr page, which currently has more than 500 entries. Schapiro said the page, on which students can anonymously submit their own experiences relating to class at NU, represents the progress the University still must make to become a completely accepting campus.

“It’s a remarkably open discussion full of anguish and guilt and doubt,” Schapiro said about the website. “It shows you we have a long way to go to make sure that we have the inclusive community that we want.”

Schapiro also gave updates on the University’s construction projects, noting although the renovation of commonly used buildings, including Kresge Hall, will be “disruptive,” it will create a better learning environment in the future.

He also talked about the recent “We Will” capital campaign, which NU officially launched at the end of Winter Quarter. He said the two goals for the campaign are to raise $3.75 billion and to encourage participation.

Schapiro shared his efforts to continually involve himself with members of NU through several smaller group conversations throughout the year, noting Thursday’s event was only one of the many ways he engages with students and faculty. He ended his talk emphasizing the importance of keeping students on campus safe, calling it a promise he made and one he strives to keep.

After the speech, attendees had the opportunity to ask questions in person, or online for those watching the speech on the live feed. Students and faculty asked Schapiro several questions regarding topics including NU’s satellite campus in Qatar, the “We Will” campaign and the University’s goals.

Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, vice president of student auxiliary services, said as an administrator, she thought Schapiro’s speech touched upon several important topics, including the capital campaign and the University’s standing among peer institutions.

“I actually enjoy the remarks that he makes to start it off,” Payne-Kirchmeier said. “So really hearing about the president’s perception of where we are as an institution, the things that are important, the priorities. Those to me are very eye-opening. I also appreciated how he contextualized the capital campaign and the intentionality that is brought forward with connecting it to our strategic plan and our strategic vision for Northwestern. I think that was powerful and, quite frankly, a very healthy approach.”

Twitter: @beccasavransky