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Conversation with President Schapiro

Faculty, staff and students invited to discuss the state of the University

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January 6, 2011

Live Stream Available

Features system requirements and link to the video stream, which will be available 30 minutes before the start of the forum on Jan. 11.

Dear members of the Northwestern University community,

We’ll hold the first “Conversations with the President” next week, and I hope to see you there. The first meeting will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11 in Wieboldt Hall, Room 540 on the Chicago campus and will be webcast live.

I look forward to the opportunity to update you on what’s going on at Northwestern, and as importantly, to hear from you and learn what’s on your mind. As was the case last year, I anticipate that these will be fairly informal events, so feel free to either ask a question there or send it in advance to nusac@northwestern.edu

The Conversations are a collaboration of the Northwestern University Staff Advisory Council, the Faculty Senate and my office. The second event will be held May 25 on the Evanston campus. While I expect other subjects to come up, here are some things that might be of interest.

• Strategic plan. Thanks to the dedicated leadership of Provost Dan Linzer and Vice President Marilyn McCoy and their staffs, we’re nearing completion of the University’s strategic plan. We’ve received great feedback and involvement throughout the process, so I’m confident we’ll have a plan that will guide us in the coming years.

• Leadership searches. As many of you know, we are now engaged in searches for new deans for the School of Law and Feinberg School of Medicine. We’ve been very fortunate to have great leaders in both of those schools, and with the national searches now underway, I expect that we’ll continue to have first-rate leadership at both of these critically important schools. We recently appointed Everette Dennis as the new dean of Northwestern University in Qatar, and we continue to move forward on our searches for new vice presidents of information technology and student affairs.

• Research funding. We reached a record $557 million in sponsored research funding in 2009-2010, a 17 percent increase from the previous year. We were impressively successful in receiving funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the stimulus funding bill), with a total of $72 million in ARRA awards. As you know, ARRA funding will not continue much beyond the current year and the challenge in the coming years is that federal research funding will be flat at best, and perhaps even cut. So we expect such funding to become even more competitive.

• Finances.  The improved financial markets are benefiting the University’s endowment, which will help our budgets over the coming years, especially if the improvement is sustained. We're hopeful that we will be able to increase funds available for salary increases beyond the levels of the past two years. However, we also know that there will be increased strain on our financial aid budgets because of the general economic conditions and our increasing efforts to maintain an economically diverse group of students. But overall, Northwestern is in sound financial shape, and we expect that to continue.

There are undoubtedly other topics that you’d like to discuss, and I look forward to doing so with you next week. See you at the meeting or on campus!

Morty Schapiro, President and Professor