President Schapiro discusses student body diversity, University global outreach


Seeger Gray/The Daily Northwestern

University President Morton Schapiro said Northwestern is on track to raise more than $1 billion this year.

Maia Pandey, Campus Editor

University President Morton Schapiro discussed Northwestern’s efforts to diversify its student body and expand global outreach at a Tuesday Q&A. 

Schapiro, who will depart NU in August, said making the University more accessible and affordable has been a primary goal of his tenure. When he arrived in 2009, he said, 8% of the student body was first generation, and the number has now risen to 15%.

Thirty percent of the entering undergraduate class is Black, Latine or Native American, compared to 11% when he began at NU, Schapiro said. The percentage of international students in the incoming class has also risen from 4 to 11%, he added. 

“I was a little surprised when I got here 13 years ago that our financial aid packages for a school as rich as this one were really bad,” he said. “If a student turns us down to go to Duke or Penn or Dartmouth or Amherst, and it’s a low-income student, that should be their choice … it should not be based on price.”

One of Schapiro’s first actions as president was to allocate more money to financial aid to ensure a need-based aid system, he said. In January, NU was sued for antitrust violations in collusion with 15 other U.S. universities to illegally reduce student financial aid.

One World \ One Northwestern, a group that connects University staff, hosted the Q&A event. 

“(One World) is meant to have us meet each other across departments … (including) those of us who work in international areas or who support faculty and students with their own international goals,” said Kim Rapp, assistant vice president for international relations. 

Vice President for International Relations Dévora Grynspan, who moderated the conversation, said though many NU alums are highly positioned in foreign governments, the University has historically fallen behind in cultivating relationships with global alumni.

“(The Kellogg School of Management), of course, has always been more international, and the law school does a lot, but Northwestern as a whole has lagged behind other peer universities (in international alumni outreach),” Grynspan said

Schapiro said he partly credits this trend to a historical separation between NU and Kellogg.

Don Jacobs, Kellogg’s dean from 1975 to 2001,  was among the greatest administrators in the history of NU and American academia, Schapiro said, but Jacobs’ approach to the job hinged partly on distancing Kellogg from the broader University.

“He had a very specific philosophy,” Schapiro said. “Northwestern was a good school, and Kellogg was a great school, and then any time those two things came together, it helped Northwestern, which wasn’t part of his job description.”

In his early travels as University president, Schapiro said he found NU and Kellogg were “completely separately branded.” He has since worked with subsequent Kellogg deans Sally Blount and Francesca Cornelli to strengthen Universitywide relationships, Schapiro said.

Schapiro added that he would miss the intellectual stimulation of teaching and writing at NU. 

After 43 years in academia — 22 of which he spent as president at NU and Williams College — Schapiro said he has taken a full-time job working on climate change investments and alternative and sustainable energies.

“I’ve become, safe to say, obsessed about climate change,” he said. “I want to look (children) in the eye and say, ‘Grandpa tried to do something about the destruction of this world that my generation is unfortunately leaving to you.’”

Iris Swarthout contributed reporting.

Correction: One World \ One Northwestern connects staff across the University. The Daily regrets the error.

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