"I'm very excited about the excellence that pervades the institution; to be a part of that is a great honor. That's one reason you like to be at a place like Northwestern, because excellence permeates everything it does."
On research and undergraduate education
"One of the things that certainly has attracted me to Northwestern is this is a top-notch research university defined any way you possibly want to define it, but it's also an institution that really cares about undergraduate education. I love the way the faculty manage to focus on that as well as their other scholarly pursuits. ... It's a model for how to engage undergrads in the context of a research university."
On the economics of a university education
"Northwestern is one of very few schools out there in American higher education that has the resources and the will to be need-blind, and that's really the key. You want to meet full need, and you want the gift of a Northwestern education to be available to the most talented students, regardless of circumstances."
"Universities and colleges operate in the public interest, so you really have to deliver and act in the public interest and make sure you're available to the most talented students, regardless of family circumstances. Our institutions have to be agents toward mobility, not toward stratification."
"I think you're not doing your job in educating any of your students unless you're educating them in an environment that's reflective of the world they're about to enter. And that means that they should be exposed to all the people that make this great country the way it is."
"When we [University of Southern California fans] came out of the tunnel at the  Rose Bowl, and we saw all that purple ... I remember thinking, 'That's a special place.' They came from all over the world, and they all came down there to Pasadena to cheer on the Wildcats. I never thought back then – 13 years ago, soon – that I'd ever have the great honor of helping lead Northwestern forward ... I can't wait to meet the women's lacrosse team."
"Williams became purple in 1865, and of course Northwestern did 14 years later, and it's good because I own a lot of purple. I've been on the Williams faculty for 20 years on and off and nine years as president, so my ties, sweaters, everything is purple. I really feel privileged to go to a purple university!"
On making the transition
"I can't wait to start spending lots of time with the undergrads, with the graduate students and, of course, with the faculty. I like to meet people, I like to listen to what they have to say and to learn from them. There's a lot of learning that I'm going to have to do, and I can't wait to start."