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Thinking on These Things

A letter from President Henry S. Bienen

Dear Northwestern Alumni,

For the past 14 years I have enjoyed and been challenged by the opportunity to serve as the president of Northwestern University. It has been a remarkable experience. I firmly believe that great institutions such as Northwestern should be refreshed regularly with new leadership. So, I will retire at the end of this academic year, leaving behind what I hope is a stronger university and treasuring the many friendships I have made during my time here.

Many of those friendships are with you, members of the Northwestern alumni community, which includes the approximately 65,000 of you who graduated during my tenure as president. One of the things that makes Northwestern such a great university is the support of its alumni. I've met with Northwestern graduates on five continents and in numerous countries and countless cities, and the thing that unites them is their passion for and commitment to the University. Even when alumni may have disagreed with some of the decisions we've made in regard to directions of the University, those disagreements were grounded in a common purpose of wanting what's best for Northwestern.

I particularly would like to thank the alumni who have served on Northwestern's Board of Trustees, the board of the Northwestern Alumni Association and the advisory councils of our schools. These alumni leaders have volunteered their time and talents and in doing so have helped make Northwestern a better place. Pat Ryan (EB59), who has been an extraordinary chair of the Board of Trustees during my tenure, and Howard Trienens (EB45, L49, H95), who was chair when I came, have led this institution in an exemplary fashion, and I have benefited immensely from their counsel and guidance.

Much remains to be done in the coming year. This fall we will launch our new campus in Qatar, bringing the University's renowned journalism and communication programs to a new group of students in the Middle East, truly an exciting new venture. We will begin construction of what will be a magnificent new home for the School of Music. And we hope that our new no-loan and loan-cap programs will aid us in encouraging students from low- and moderate-income families to attend Northwestern.

I must also note how deeply honored Leigh and I are to have Northwestern's outstanding School of Music named for us and an endowment established to support the continuing operations of the school. The School of Music is one of the crown jewels of Northwestern. As two people who love music, Leigh and I are gratified and proud that our name will be forever associated with this great example of Northwestern's heritage and passion for excellence.

My travel plans for the coming year are still being finalized, but I hope that I have the chance to see many of you at the full schedule of alumni events, both here on campus and in communities throughout the country. I've very much enjoyed the opportunities to meet and make friends with alumni at these events over the past 14 years, so I'm looking forward to visiting with you again before I leave.

Northwestern's motto is drawn from the scripture passage that urges us to "think on these things" that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely and of good report. When I think of my experience here, I will indeed think on those things and of the many wonderful friendships I have developed here. Thank you for the opportunity to lead this great institution.


Henry S. Bienen

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President Bienen
President Henry S. BienenPhoto by David Joel
Photo by Eugene Zakusilo
Photo by Bill Arsenault