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Playing Our Best Role in a Global Saga

Dear Members of the Northwestern Community,

In any other year, Spring Break is a welcome pause before the final stretch of our academic year and the celebratory rites of commencement. This year, it represents a crucial stage in our efforts to help curb the coronavirus pandemic, while continuing our work as best we can. 

However events may develop, the people of Northwestern will shape them in a meaningful way. Our University has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, and that excellence is for a purpose: to make the fullest possible contribution to our world at precisely a moment like this. 

So many of you have already been making remarkable sacrifices toward this goal. I would like to thank our staff for their determination, resolve and entrepreneurialism that are keeping the University on course amid such flux. And I thank our faculty for moving swiftly to remote teaching models and for placing the interests of our students at the forefront. 

Not only does our research mission continue; it takes on added urgency as we collaborate across disciplines to address the pandemic. I am proud of researchers here who are facilitating desperately needed advances in the treatment of the virus, as well as those who have been prominent in the public eye, offering insight into how individuals and organizations can adapt.

In the coming weeks, and probably months, we will all need extra measures of compassion, patience, resilience, flexibility and creativity. Take care of those around you. Encourage and model sensible, prudent action. And please remember to reach out for help when you need it yourself. 

I’d like to offer an observation, one that I’ve been sharing this week with those who ask me how our University is faring. Hundreds of members of our community have written to me in recent days—students, parents, staff, faculty, alumni and local residents. Some had questions, while others expressed concerns. But, in all, it was their kindness that surprised me. Dozens and dozens wished me and my family well; many said that they loved the school and appreciated the hard work we were all doing to keep everyone safe; many praised the work of our Deans and mentioned the names of staff and faculty who have made a special effort to care for students at a time of greatest vulnerability. Reading these, I was literally brought to tears.

We are all learning anew what matters most. Indeed, we will all be remembered for how we handled adversity and how we sought to care for others.

I thank every one of you for your inspiring efforts on behalf of our community. 

Morton Schapiro
President and Professor