Key Accomplishments
Following are highlights of the key accomplishments at Northwestern University during the presidency of Henry S. Bienen.


  • Applications for admission to Northwestern skyrocketed. Undergraduate applications for fall 1995, the year before President Bienen arrived, totaled just fewer than 13,000. Northwestern this year received more than 25,000 applications, or almost double that of 12 years ago.
  • Applicants' mean SAT score improved from 1272 (fall 1996) to 1422 (fall 2007), a gain of 150 points.
  • The number of National Merit Scholars increased substantially. This year's freshman class includes 249 Merit Scholars - the third most in the nation and a record number for Northwestern.
  • There has been a major emphasis on creating opportunities for undergraduate research and expanding programs in the schools and faculty labs. At the 2007 undergraduate research symposium, 135 students presented their work.
  • Students have been very successful in winning major awards:
    1. Fulbright - In 1995 Northwestern had eight Fulbright Scholars. In 2007, there were 24 scholars, placing the University fourth among all universities in the country.
    2. Marshall - Northwestern has had 10 Marshall winners during President Bienen's tenure. Four of these came in the past five years, placing the University sixth among its peers in this regard.
    3. Rhodes - One Northwestern student has received a Rhodes scholarship.
    4. Goldwater - Northwestern has had nine winners in the past five years.
    5. Gates Cambridge - This year two Northwestern students won Gates Cambridge awards out of 45 total awarded nationwide.
  • In 1997 only 4 percent of Northwestern undergraduates studied abroad; today 30 percent of students study abroad.
  • A total of 17 Northwestern athletic teams have won Big Ten championships, including three in football and an unprecedented nine straight in women's tennis. In addition, Northwestern has captured back-to-back-to-back NCAA national championships in women's lacrosse. During his tenure, Northwestern's football team has gone to five post-season bowl games.


  • Funds have been raised for 106 new faculty chairs.
  • Faculty awards have increased:
    • John Pople, professor of chemistry, won the Nobel Prize in 1998.
    • Five faculty members have received MacArthur "genius" grants.
    • Two faculty members have won the National Medal of Science: Jan Achenbach, the Walter P. Murphy Professor and Distinguished McCormick School Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Sciences and Applied Mathematics; and Tobin J. Marks, Vladimir N. Ipatieff Research Professor of Chemistry and professor of materials science and engineering. Achenbach also won the National Medal of Technology previously.
    • Mary Zimmerman, professor of performance studies, won a Tony Award for direction for her play Metamorphoses, originally staged in 1996 at Northwestern.
  • The number of faculty represented in the leading academic societies has grown significantly:
    • In 1998 Northwestern had 15 members in the National Academy of Science; since then it has added 11 new members.
    • Northwestern has also added 24 new members to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in the past five years for a total of 69 members.
    • In the last eight years, three faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one to the Institute of Medicine, and one to the National Academy of Education.


New and Innovative Programs and Centers

  • Initiation of major nanoscience and nanomedicine initiatives
  • Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and Kaplan Humanities Scholar Program
  • Two Kellogg Undergraduate Certificate Programs (with Economics in Financial Economics and Industrial Engineering in Managerial Analytics)
  • Brady Scholars Program in Ethics and Public Life
  • Segal Design Institute
  • Complexity Institute
  • Davee Department of Neurology
  • Pepper Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies
  • Crown Center for Jewish Studies and support for Middle Eastern Studies
  • Bluhm Legal Clinic

Academic Transformations

  • In 1998, the College of Arts and Sciences was renamed the Judd A. and Marjorie Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. The school has risen in prominence in areas such as industrial organization economics, chemistry and nanoscience.
  • The School of Speech was renamed the School of Communication in 2002. Since then the school has made a dramatic transformation, hiring a large cohort of exceptional faculty.
  • The School of Education has moved into the top 10, ranking as high as sixth with a very small faculty. A decade ago the school received $400,000 in external research funding. Today it receives over $8 million, or approximately $400,000 per faculty member.
  • The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science has had tremendous success in hiring faculty. This past year, 93 percent of its offers were accepted.
  • The Medill School of Journalism is in the process of revamping journalism education.
  • The School of Music has continued to strengthen its unique position as a school that combines conservatory-level training with a strong liberal arts education. Recent transformative changes include full funding for doctor of music students and the recruitment of a new director of jazz studies. The Nemmers Prize in Music Composition has also been established.
  • The Kellogg School of Management has maintained its standing as a top business school and expanded its presence internationally, establishing five Executive MBA programs for international students during the past 10 years.
  • The students at the Law School rank sixth in the country in terms of LSAT scores, and the faculty now includes a large cohort of individuals who hold PhDs as well as JDs who are engaged in empirical work on the legal system.
  • In 2002, Northwestern University Medical School was renamed the Feinberg School of Medicine. Research funding at the medical school has tripled in the past decade, from $79 million to $236 million.
  • The Graduate School has revamped its fellowship programs to guarantee five years of support, raised the level of funding and guaranteed 100 percent health insurance coverage. Summer support is also provided in the humanities and social sciences so that students can concentrate on progress to degree. There have been further investments for graduate student research, conference and research travel funds, and language acquisition support.
  • The School of Continuing Studies has expanded its range of postgraduate work, in person and online, and increased its contribution to the University.


  • Research awards have more than doubled from $173 million in 1995 to $416 million in 2007.
  • Northwestern has forged new partnerships with the Chicago Biomedical Consortium, Argonne National Laboratory, and Fermilab.
  • Major investments have been made in improving our research infrastructure.


  • Northwestern's endowment has quintupled from $1.4 billion in 1995 to nearly $7 billion.
  • The endowment has had an annualized growth rate of 17.1 percent for the past five years.
  • Campaign Northwestern brought in $1.55 billion, exceeding its goal of $1 billion. Since the close of the campaign, the University has raised another $821 million in new commitments and $863 million in cash.
  • The total university budget more than doubled from $714 million in 1995 to $1.5 billion today.
  • Northwestern has secured more than $100 million for University buildings and equipment from state and federal government sources.
  • Two rating agencies have upgraded Northwestern's debt ratings to the very highest level, and a third agency has raised the University's rating to a level just below that.


  • Northwestern embarked on more than 20 major building projects. The University has built major new scientific research buildings on both campuses (Lurie, Ryan, Pancoe-ENH, Silverman and Ford Design Center); built new classroom and faculty office buildings including Crowe Hall, McCormick Tribune Center, Chambers Hall, and now Music; built an expanded Museum; built two undergraduate residence halls (Kemper and Slivka); completely revamped and upgraded Northwestern's athletic facilities (Ryan Field, Trienens Hall, Anderson-Burton Athletics, Combe Tennis Center, Gleacher Golf Center); and undertaken significant improvements to many other academic buildings on both campuses. Planning and fundraising are underway for another research building for the Feinberg School as well as a new building for the Kellogg School of Management.


  • The University has improved its relationship with Northwestern Memorial Hospital so that the institutions are now engaged in a joint planning initiative.
  • The decision by Children's Memorial Hospital to move to the Chicago campus will further support the goal of building a leading academic medical center.
  • Northwestern has partnered with the Qatar Foundation to create a branch campus in Qatar beginning fall 2008.
  • The Big Ten Network was launched; Northwestern programming has been developed.