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President Schapiro: We Can Win the Northwestern Way

President talks with WBEZ about NCAA Tournament, role of athletics in university life

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March 1, 2012 | by Storer H. Rowley

EVANSTON, Ill. --- With Northwestern’s basketball team still on the bubble for a berth in the NCAA Tournament, President Morton Schapiro told Chicago Public Radio on Thursday that Big Ten athletics are a way for Northwestern to shine a spotlight on the whole university, including its academic excellence.

“We talk about athletics as the front porch of our university,” Schapiro said in an interview with WBEZ’s Afternoon Shift host Steve Edwards and ESPN.com senior writer Lester Munson Jr., who is also an adjunct lecturer in journalism at Medill.

“The benefit is you shine a spotlight on the wonderful academic programs,” Schapiro said during the taping of an interview with WBEZ-91.5 FM that aired Thursday afternoon.

“It’s important. We try to win here at Northwestern. We don’t hold back the quality of our incredible theater programs or journalism programs or science programs, music programs and the like. As long as we can win the Northwestern way, we’re really happy to support it.”

In a wide-ranging interview about the role of athletics in university life, Schapiro emphasized the importance of the “scholar athlete,” including many he has taught personally, who represent not just sports prowess but also the highly selective standards of Northwestern and other Big Ten universities.

“We try to maintain sufficiently high admissions standards,” he said. “We have about 486 varsity athletes here out of about 8,100 undergrads. We want them to reflect the finest of the values of the university.”