University president Michael Schill inaugurated


Alyce Brown/Daily Senior Staffer

President Michael Schill leaves the inauguration ceremony, donned in regalia.

Nicole Markus, Summer Editor in Chief

Michael Schill was inaugurated Friday morning as Northwestern’s 17th president.

The New York native took office in September 2022, only two months after Rebecca Blank stepped down as president-elect after receiving a cancer diagnosis. Blank died in February.

“It broke her heart to step down from the role last summer … the NU community continues to mourn her loss,” Board of Trustees Chair Peter Barris said at the inauguration. 

Barris said while searching for a president, it was “imperative” for the Presidential Search Committee to find someone who understands the University’s standing and who would develop a focus on opportunities for students.

Schill — who previously served as president of the University of Oregon and dean of the University of Chicago Law School — fit this criteria, Barris said. 

“I was struck by his deep commitment to research and academic vigor, his focus on student access and success and his focus on the values of diversity, equity and inclusion through both his scholarly and administrative work,” Barris said. 

In his inaugural address, Schill highlighted areas in which he said the University would focus its creative and interdisciplinary

A man in a purple robe speaks at a podium with his arms up.
President Michael Schill delivers his inaugural address, focusing on the past and future of the University. (Alyce Brown/Daily Senior Staffer)


First, Schill said NU will renew its commitment to leading in the biosciences, positioning the University to create new treatments, cures and health delivery systems. Recently, the University was selected to co-lead the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s biomedical research hub in Chicago.

NU will also focus on decarbonization, renewable energy and sustainability. 

“Little else matters if we cannot ensure a future for our students,” Schill said. 

Schill emphasized the importance of looking to NU’s future and creating positive change. 

While founders and past presidents created the University faculty and students know today, they were also complicated and controversial people, Schill said.

“These men — and they were all men — envisioned a university dedicated in perpetuity to serving the Methodist Church,” Schill said. “Needless to say, the University and the world they inhabited are scarcely recognizable to us today.”

A group of five people sing around a drum.
The Oka Homma Singers perform the Otoe-Missouria Flag Song to open the inauguration ceremony. (Alyce Brown/Daily Senior Staffer)

In recognition of NU’s past and the land it stands on, Schill accepted a reciprocity gift from SESP Prof. Megan Bang, the director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research.

Bang said the gift represents the hope she and others hold that Schill will show commitment to indigenous culture as president.

“Northwestern is preparing some of the most promising young Native leaders in the nation,” Bang said. “Your leadership in our school matters.”

Looking toward the future, Schill said he can’t remember a time when academia was under the microscope “so intensely.” 

Many states, Schill said, are considering legislation that would undermine the foundation of America’s universities. 

“Legislative efforts to constrain what we do in the classroom are antithetical to the fearless pursuit of knowledge, as well as the transmission of that knowledge to the next generation,” Schill said. 

Despite these efforts, Schill said he is committed to ensuring NU remains a diverse place where all individuals have the opportunity to obtain a “world class” education. 

The newly-inaugurated president thanked NU’s last two presidents for “dramatically” changing NU’s trajectory. 

“We have become one of the greatest research universities in the world,” Schill said. “Most importantly, NU is a University that is ready and willing to face the headwinds buffeting higher education.”

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Twitter: @nicolejmarkus

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