Schapiro addresses NU rankings, budget deficit in ‘Conversations with the President’


Evan Robinson-Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

President Morton Schapiro gave his annual address to the University in the second installment of ‘Conversations with the President.’

Zoe Malin, Reporter

University President Morton Schapiro discussed topics ranging from his goal to equalize the undergraduate student experience to NU’s “groundbreaking” research projects in the second installment of “Conversations with the President” this year a speaking series featuring Northwestern officials.

Schapiro began by noting the University’s high standings in relation to peer institutions.

“You don’t want to be a slave to the rankings,” Schapiro said. “But when you’re recognized, people are proud.”

The Thursday event, held in the McCormick Foundation Center, was hosted by the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council. President Schapiro was joined by Provost Jonathan Holloway; Craig Johnson, the vice president for business and finance; and Jeri Ward, the vice president for global marketing and communications.

Schapiro spent much of his opening remarks speaking about how Northwestern is one of 26 private research universities that are a part of the Association of American Universities, an organization comprised of leading research universities. He added that he’s “proud” of NU’s differential graduation rate — the graduation rate for undergraduates who are Pell Grant recipients versus those who are not.

“We are one of the few schools whose differential graduation rate is equal,” Schapiro said. “We have a 94-percent graduation rate for non-Pell recipients and a 94-percent graduation rate for Pell recipients. The typical research university in AAU has a gap of about five or six percentage-points.”

However, Schapiro said he feels Northwestern is “a little under-appreciated” when it comes to ranking research universities. In response, Ward said her office is committed to communicating the University’s reputation to distinguish it as a renowned global university.

“There is so much impactful work that happens at this University, and we need to tell those stories,” Ward said.

Schapiro said he talked “at length” about the University’s ongoing budget deficits in his remarks at NU’s Chicago campus April 3, and apologized again to those affected by the deficit.

“A year ago, I stood here and people me asked about layoffs and the budget, and I told them we seemed to have our arms around it. We didn’t,” Schapiro said. “I’m sorry for all of the promises I made that we had to go back on.”

Now, however, Johnson said NU’s business and finance office now has a “good handle” on the University’s financial information and is looking closely at its seven-year financial plan. Overall, Johnson said he thinks good ideas have been proposed in order to emerge from the deficit while maintaining the University’s “core values.”

Moving to the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion, Holloway said the University has seen progress over the last year. He said campus-wide diversity, equity and inclusion is a “pillar” of Northwestern, emphasizing his office’s commitment to working on mental health.

“We want to hear from the Northwestern community and find creative, basic, innovative ideas that will help us become a healthier community,” Holloway said.

Holloway added that the University is working to “amplify” resources on campus, including Counseling and Psychological Services.

To close his speech, Schapiro said he is “very optimistic” about the future.

“I’m as excited about the future now as I was in year one,” Schapiro said. “Maybe even more excited.”

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