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University Initiatives and Responses

Welcome to the Inclusive Northwestern website.

Northwestern is committed to and has worked consistently toward diversity and inclusion on our campuses. Ongoing efforts to address these important values have been a priority for the University. We realize it takes each and every one of us to contribute toward a more inclusive environment. The administration welcomes constructive dialogue with students, staff and faculty that advances us in this important area.

We pride ourselves in having a student body that cares enough about their institution to raise their voices with suggestions, requests and sometimes demands in an effort to continue making us better. As in previous times, this academic year 2015-2016, our students have raised a wide variety of issues, ranging from diversity efforts to endowment divestment to academic curricula. As detailed below, and consistent with our goal of continuously improving the University each year, Northwestern has undertaken significant initiatives on many of these issues that have been raised by our students. For more information, please see the Diversity & Inclusion website.

The University recognizes that additional issues raised remain to be examined. Even those that have been substantially addressed and are detailed below, will undoubtedly require further discussion and refinement. The University looks forward to continuing to engage all of the members of the Northwestern community in these important discussions. Updates to our progress will be provided on this website.

In the coming months, there will be several meetings scheduled to review our progress and engage in constructive dialogues with any member of our community who is interested in working together with us. The schedule of those meetings will be announced on this Inclusive Northwestern website.

Northwestern will continue to demonstrate what our students have shown: an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion on our campuses.

Jump to the following sections:

Student Spaces

Key Contact: Patricia Telles-Irvin, Vice President for Student Affairs

Black House, Multicultural Center and Gender and Sexuality Resource Center

The Black House Facility Review Committee composed of students, alumni and faculty has been charged to provide recommendations to improve the conditions of the House. The committee has begun its meetings and is developing recommendations. The committee work will include assessing the safety of the basement for social activities, and determining and installing software on the computers that is appropriate. The report is expected by the end of the winter quarter. Meanwhile, Facilities Management has been asked to assess the conditions of the basement given that it is space students have raised several times. In advance of the report, four new computers for each the Black House and MCC have been ordered as well as the software. These should be ready for use by no later than the end of February 2016. The software updated will be added to the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) computers.

A proposal by the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association to create an archive has been presented to the University Library and Archives and is being reviewed.

Enhancements to the Multicultural Center were made during the winter break after consultation with students. Currently, the University is looking at how to increase spaces for students in that building by identifying alternative space for the MSA staff. 

All future renovation to the MCC, Black House, and GSRC will include student and alumni input and considerations of the structural, programmatic, and facilities needs of the spaces have to be taken into account. For example, both houses are historic landmarks and many of the walls in the houses are structural and therefore cannot be removed.  In addition to the MCC, Black House, and GSRC, the University is investigating how to increase culturally specific space across campus.

Currently there is a CIC staff presence in the GSRC daily during work hours (8:30am-5:00pm, Monday through Friday). This approach allows CIC to meet the needs of students, exist in multiple spaces, and increase staff collaboration while providing broader staff access to students. All CIC staff members are trained and bring expertise in working with marginalized students including students who identify as LGBTQIA.

Norris Renovations

As conversations regarding renovations to Norris advance, student voices and needs related to the GSRC will be included. The program for the new facility, defined through survey and focus group assessment, includes and will continue to include the GSRC. As the planning moves toward board approval, next steps are to re-engage stakeholder groups for each part of the program, which includes the GSRC.

Other Issues

Office space already has been provided in Tech for the National Society of Black Engineers and the Society of Hispanic Engineers, with the appropriate computers and software.

Every effort will be made to create gender-neutral restroom facilities in the residence halls and to be sensitive to room assignments of our transgender students.

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Key Contacts: Dan Linzer, Provost; Adrian Randolph, Dean, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Northwestern has entered into a number of important partnerships this year.  In the fall Provost Linzer attended a meeting at the Mellon Foundation in New York to discuss Northwestern’s participation in a new program in which the Big Ten institutions and the University of Chicago collaborate with the Associated Colleges of the Midwest to develop the pipeline for future underrepresented minority faculty at liberal arts colleges.

Northwestern also has joined the Mellon program to encourage students at Hispanic Serving Institutions (Florida International University, University of Texas at El Paso, and California State University at Northridge) to go on for graduate student in the humanities and social sciences, with the goal of creating a more robust pipeline of future underrepresented minority faculty.  Northwestern is the only Midwest research university in the group, with two others of the east coast and two on the west coast (Northwestern, NYU, Penn, UC Berkeley, and UC Davis).

Northwestern has taken a number of steps this year to promote greater faculty diversity.  One step is to work with schools to define searches more clearly, such as new searches in Psychology on diversity science.  Also, the Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and the Associate Provost for Faculty for  are developing a program to help departments in their searches, and have had tested these new approaches with an enthusiastic response in Physics and Astronomy.

Northwestern is considering training in cultural competency training for faculty and staff.  The University launched an online Title IX training this year, and that may serve as a useful model for a training initiative about cultural awareness.

Northwestern has made progress on other academic areas, including:

  • Strengthening academic bridge programs to add credit; these programs help students from less affluent high schools over the summer before freshman year so that they hit the ground running once the fall quarter begins.
  • Moving ahead on an improved advising system based on the recommendations of the Undergraduate Academic Experience Task Force.
  • Conducting a search for the new director of the Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching with a focus on retention of underrepresented minority students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
  • Developing a draft of new CTEC questions on cultural competency and on creating an effective classroom climate. Those will go to the CTEC committee for consideration.
  • Considering reducing the number of credits required for graduation, although external accreditation requirements may make that difficult for some of Northwestern's schools.  In addition, the University is considering reducing the number of AP credits that can be applied to graduation, since students coming from high schools that do not offer AP courses (typically less affluent schools) are disadvantaged in that they may be unable to drop a course because that would slow the students’ academic progress.

Progress on Diversity Courses

Each individual school at Northwestern sets its own requirements for graduation. It has been suggested that all students be required to take a course that focuses on diversity. Following is a status report on how the individual schools are addressing this.

Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications

Starting with current first-year students, such a course is required. Medill has long required multiple diversity courses for all undergraduate students in alignment with our national accreditation. These classes usually are taken from existing courses in WCAS and Medill.

Weinberg College or Arts and Sciences (WCAS)

In February 2016, the faculty of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences approved the creation of a major in Asian-American Studies, starting in 2016-17.

In 2014-15, members of the Weinberg College community, both faculty and students, convened a number of times to discuss the proposed social inequalities and diversities requirement put forth in by the Academics/Education Working Group, a subgroup of the University Diversity Council. The proposed requirement worked on a simple principle: Any course that counted toward the social inequalities and diversities was designed to have the same four learning goals.

Over the course of these discussions strong support for such a requirement emerged (as did thoughtful opposition). But by spring quarter a difference of opinion also emerged. Some, especially faculty members, held strong beliefs that a social inequalities and diversities requirement should not be met only by courses with a U.S. focus, as proposed by the Working Group. There were others, especially students, who felt strongly that only courses with a U.S. focus should count. This remains to be resolved.

Because in 2013-14 the College calculated needing at least a year or two to scale up to the number of courses necessary to allow students to fulfill the requirement in a timely manner, the Weinberg College Hewlett Fellows program was established to incentivize faculty members to create new courses or revise old courses that would meet the requirement should it be approved. The program is now in its third year. In addition to creating or revising courses, each group of fellows has worked together on questions of pedagogy, and has served as faculty leaders to the dean and the dean¹s staff.

Via the Hewlett program, the College now has 16 courses that have incorporated the proposed learning goals and 16 involved and very committed faculty members. The Fellows meet with the dean and the Hewlett committee each fall to share their insights about the initiative.

A review of the College's degree requirements by a committee, with student representation, is underway. The committee has the very specific charge to think through what such a diversity requirement might look like within the context of a broader curricular rethink.

Bienen School of Music

The Bienen School of Music offers several courses focused on diversity and requires all students to take a course on world cultures. The courses are:

  • MUSIC 213 - Introduction to World Cultures (requirement for all undergraduate music students)
  • MUSICOL 337 - Queer Musicality
  • MUSICOL 339 - Music and Gender
  • MUSIC ED 335 - Selected Topics: Social Justice and Arts Education
School of Communication (SoC)

The School of Communication curriculum already engages the learning outcomes proposed by the Diversity Committee. Many existing courses in SoC serve as opportunities to help students develop better communication skills, reflect on the impact of economic and social inequality on human interaction, and exercise their knowledge and skills in the context of difficult communication situations. These include:

  • Comm St 314-0 - Rhetoric and Public Commemoration
  • Comm St 324-1 - Rhetoric of U.S. Women’s Rights
  • Comm St 325-2 - Rhetorical History of U.S. II
  • Dance 201-0 - Cultural Studies of Dance
  • Perf St 309-0 - Performance of Black Literature
  • Perf St 316-0 - Folklore and Oral Traditions
  • RTVF 301-0 - Race and Ethnicity in Film and TV
  • Theatre 244-2 - Development of Contemporary Theatre
  • Theatre 307-0 - Studies in Gender/Performance
  • Theatre 365-1 or 2 - American Theatre and Drama

A task force of faculty (including faculty from every SoC department as well as a representative from McCormick) was appointed and asked to design a new basic communication course that would focus on diversity and performance. In January 2012 they held a one-day course development workshop to discuss creation of a new signature course “embodying our common interest in analyzing the foundations of communicative action and giving students an improved understanding of the conduct and perspectives of others as well as a better command of their own performances in social situations.”

Based on input from the task force, Soyini Madison developed a course (CMN 203: Performance, Culture and Communication) that could be piloted, perfected, and then offered in multiple sections to all interested students. She made sure to incorporate the specific learning outcomes for the Social Inequalities and Diversities curriculum. This course is now included in the current list of courses for the proposed diversity requirement, with 2-3 sections offered per quarter of CMN 203. In the past two years, learning objectives of the diversity and inclusion requirement have also been incorporated into Theatre 140, a class required of all first-year theatre majors; students are required to read Theatre & Race, a book that is provided to them free of charge.

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McCormick School of Engineering

The McCormick School of Engineering believes that "doing" is better than "listening." Design Thinking and Communication (DTC) provides a fantastic opportunity to set a clear initial condition as soon as the students set a foot on campus. Diverse student teams in the freshman DTC sequence provide an excellent framework for students to learn how to work effectively with people from different backgrounds (we measure team performance). Indeed, diversity enriches a key aspect of the process of human-centered design: empathy. In the first quarter in which design projects predominantly come from our partnership with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), students also must squarely confront the challenges and inequities faced by disabled patients in their day-to-day lives. These DTC clients are real, and students meet with them.

McCormick is now planning how to include more explicit opportunities for reflection and discussion on the issues of managing diversity in DTC teamwork, and the social inequity issues that arise naturally in the student design projects. Such changes could further strengthen DTC as a vehicle for addressing diversity.

School of Education and Social Policy (SESP)

SESP instituted a diversity and inclusion requirement in 2013-2014. Described on page 198 of the Northwestern Undergraduate Catalog 2015-2016, the requirement is part of the 8–unit SESP Core requirements which all undergraduate majors must complete. Students must complete one course on inequality and diversity issues chosen from the following list:

  • LOC 214 - Culture and Cognition
  • SESP 317 - Gender and the Life Course
  • SESP 320 - Race and Education
  • SESP 321 - Child Development: The African-American Experience
  • TEACHED 302 - Social Contexts of Education
Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q)

NU-Q has courses on gender and ethnicity which almost all students take, a course on Arab culture and heritage that deals heavily with religious issues, and special courses on race and media (including the course took students to Ferguson last summer).  Diversity issues in Doha are mostly centered on nationality/ethnicity and religion, and focused on understanding and tolerance.

School of Professional Studies (SPS)

SPS is coordinating with WCAS on undergraduate diversity courses next year. The SPS graduate area also has several courses that address diversity in global contexts. For example:

  • Foundations of Global Health: Students will gain knowledge of some of the major global health problems, their socioeconomic determinants, and their impact on individuals, populations and societies.
  • Global Bioethics: This course explores major themes in contemporary bioethics and the role of cultural norms. Students examine the intersection of health and international human rights as it relates to health equity and access to health services.
  • Legal, Ethical & Social Issues (MHI): This course addresses the legal, ethical, and social issues in health care informatics
  • Leadership: Explores how to lead change, solve problems, and manage teams in diverse contexts.
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

The upper division has courses in both the clinical and doctrinal areas that deal conspicuously with issues of race and justice — Race and American Law is one such course. The complexity of diversity in a cross-national environment is included in a variety of curricular and extra-curricular contexts. The school trains professionals to enter into a multicultural, diverse environment as lawyers and so, naturally, seeks to create opportunities in the curriculum for students to develop the admixture of skills that will enable them to prosper in this diverse environment.

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine (NU-FSM or FSM)

Diversity is an important strategic pillar at the Feinberg School of Medicine (FSM). Through education we are able to drive our overarching goal to foster a more inclusive environment that will serve as an exemplar among academic medical centers. In addition to efforts at enhancing diversity, resulting in a record 20% of incoming medical students from underrepresented groups and 17% of incoming residents, required curricular content further endorses the importance of diversity.

This content is robustly apparent in both the undergraduate and graduate medical education experiences. Education in diversity and cultural competence is especially important at FSM due to the diverse patient base served at our clinical affiliates including Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Jesse Brown VA Hospital. Our strategic location in Chicago – an epicenter of racial, ethnic and cultural diversity – only further enhances our vision to lead and innovate through diversity. Following is a summary of initiatives. However, this list is not comprehensive and does not detail all the efforts regarding diversity and inclusion being undertaken by the school.

FSM sponsors a variety of seminars and lectures to promote diversity education. In academic year 2014-15 the Office of Diversity and Inclusion coordinated several education sessions on topics such as Institutional Racism as part of a student led response to the Black Lives Matter movement. In July, 2015, FSM invited Dr. Alan Landry from Harvard Medical School speak on implementing a cultural competency curriculum. After this session, the Diversity Council sponsored a school-wide Cultural Competency Town Hall on October 13, 2015 to provide an open forum to inform the development of a cultural competency curriculum specific to FSM. A task force of educators is now developing content for a required cultural competency curriculum for all new students, residents, fellows and faculty. The target date for implementation is June 2016.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion also sponsors elective classes including Medical Spanish and co-sponsors Safe Space Training in conjunction with the Queers and Allies student group. Dr. John Franklin leads a Cultural Dialogue discussion group for M1 and M2 students that meets monthly. A new Lyceum lecture series on Diversity has been initiated, December 2/3, 2015, with the first invited speaker Dr. Neil Powe, a nationally recognized expert in disparate care and an accomplished outcomes sciences investigator, from the University of California San Francisco. NU FSM is committed to a bi-annual Lyceum series focusing on diversity.

Earlier this year, Feinberg faculty member Dr. Melissa Simon produced a Northwestern sponsored MOOC entitled Career 911: Your Future Job in Medicine and Healthcare, which is currently available on Coursera.

Undergraduate education and assessment at FSM is based on eight competencies, two of which directly relate to diversity and inclusion. These are the competencies of Community Engagement and Service, and Professional Behavior and Moral Reasoning. Curricular content is organized into 4 elements and 5 threads delivered as required content across all four years. One of the threads is Health Equity and Advocacy, which focuses on overcoming health disparities and developing cultural competency.  A partial listing of sessions which deal with diversity and inclusion within the UME curriculum include:

  • Aug - Foundations of Health Advocacy and Equity
  • Oct - Health Disparities & Health Equity
  • Oct - Cultural Competency
  • Nov - Global Health Ethics  
  • Nov - HIV Advocacy, Policy, Ethics and Disparities
  • Jan - Implicit Bias and Disparities (including a student level self-assessment of subconscious bias using the Implicit Association Test)
  • Feb - Social ramifications of Cystic Fibrosis
  • Mar - Diversity in Medicine
                Organ Allocation 
                Distribution of dialysis and renal transplants
  • April    Empathy, Privacy, Respect of Disabled Patients
  • May    Research Ethics and Vulnerable Populations
  • Aug - Global Burden of GI Disease
  • Sept- Cochlear implants and Deaf Culture
                Caring for patients with Low Vision
  • Oct- Professionalism Expectations
  • Nov - How Society Addresses Mental Health
                History of Prisons as Mental Health Facilities
                Stigma of psychiatric disease
  • Dec - Caring for Patients with Obesity
  • Jan - Maternal and Infant Health Global Disparities
               Sexual Violence and Harm
               LGBTQ Health
               Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault
               Transitioning Genders
  • Feb - Working with Teams of Different Generations
  • April - Using Interpreters in Medical Care
  • April - Using Interpreters in Medical Care
  • July - Virtue in medicine: inspiring and regrettable behavior
  • Oct - Using the EHR to document social determinants and disparities
  • Feb - Caring for “Difficult” Patients
  • July - Caring for Patients with beliefs different than your own   
  • Aug - Empathy and Detachment in Medicine

All entering residents and fellows complete mandatory training prior to beginning clinical duties.  A component of this training addresses the Safe and Healthy Learning Environment that is expected for all students and trainees at FSM. Part of this training includes the expectation that respect for colleagues and patients from different backgrounds will be demonstrated at all times. Additionally, communication skills training is mandatory during orientation. This includes examples of communication styles that are expected when addressing patients from a variety of cultures and backgrounds.  

Clinical departments also sponsor a variety of educational activities for residents and fellows and faculty who supervise them. Examples include the annual Department of Medicine Medical Grand Rounds that focuses on issues related to Diversity and Inclusion. This year’s speaker was David Ansell MD from Rush University who spoke on September 22, 2015 on “Closing the Gap: Doctors, Hospitals and Health Care Disparity.” Dr. John Franklin regularly speaks at various Departmental sessions on topics including Unconscious Racism in Medicine.

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Kellogg School of Management

One of the courses on diversity offered to Kellogg students is “Leading and Managing Diverse Organizations” (MORS-462-5). Today's global marketplace is more diverse than ever before - on multiple dimensions. Leaders need specific tools & techniques to effectively understand, lead, and leverage others in these increasingly complex, more diverse organizations and markets. This course blends theoretical and practical, evidence-based insights to provide you with proven strategies & frameworks to successfully harness the power of diversity in organizations and markets. This is just one example of the efforts regarding diversity and inclusion being undertaken by the school.

Northwestern University Library

University Libraries are very committed to expanding and supporting diversity and inclusion in our services to campus and in our organization itself.


UL have been consistently expanding print, digital and archival resources relevant to the study of diverse groups (as many categories as we can!), and issues of equity and inclusion in the U.S. and other countries.  We are very responsive to specific student and faculty requests for books, films and other materials needed for classes and research.  Targeted funding has been aimed at strengthening collections in Asian, Middle Eastern, and sexuality studies.

Herskovits Library of African Studies
  • “Apartheid to Democracy: 20 Years of Transition in South Africa” was a major exhibition in 2014, with related lectures and a film series.
  • Acquisitions:  All the collections are relevant; recent additions include digital access to the full online archives of the NAACP.
  • Research instruction for over 30 different courses a year in many departments; special attention to the Program of African Studies (regular classes plus institutes like AFRISEM and Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
  • Provided on-on-one research support and reference consultations to undergraduate and graduate students and faculty: 30+ (complete data unavailable).
  • Collaboration in Spring 2016 with the Block Museum and the Kaplan Institute to host and support the artist in residence, French – Algerian Artist, Kader Attia.
Library Instruction for Students

Dozens of sessions every academic year for classes across the curriculum related to race, ethnicity, national identity, religion, sexuality, and other aspects of diversity, especially in social sciences and humanities. 

Library Guides

Librarians regularly produce online guides to research in fields such as African American Studies, Asian-American Studies, Latino/a Studies, Jewish Studies, international area studies, gender and sexuality, and course-specific guides for classes such as Religion and Identity, Social Policy, Comparative Race and Ethnicity, Social Experience of Racial Inequality, Writing About Community and Diversity, and other courses taught at NU.

Digitization projects

Northwestern University campus publications produced by African American students and/or administrators dating from 1968 to 2010, completed and the titles are available in

The grant-supported Winterton Project digitized thousands of historic photographs of African life and has been heavily used by students and faculty at Northwestern and elsewhere.

Edward Curtis’ The North American Indian:  Between 1998 and 2004, NUL digitized the entire text and images as part of the Library of Congress’ American Memory Project; it is entirely free and open for view, searching and copying; over 5000 pages and 1500 photographs.

One Book One Northwestern (OBON)

Exhibitions, book discussions and research guides for the OBON every year; the last several years, several of the books chosen have had themes related to diversity.  Some of these exhibits have been quite extensive; currently on display is one provided by the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian.  A librarian serves on the OBON committee each year.

Northwestern University Press

Northwestern University Press has a long history of publishing books that reflect our commitment to diversity.

  • In the last year, the Press has begun signing books in the area of critical ethnic studies, an interdisciplinary scholarly framework that examines how nations and institutions use racial difference to engage in social and economic oppression.
  • The Press’s imprints, Curbstone and TriQuarterly, offer books that explore cultural, racial, and sexual diversity on both a national and international scale. NUP has offered poetry and fiction by feminists of color such as Nikky Finney, Angela Jackson, Carla Trujillo, and others. NUP’s plays, such as Taylor Mac’s Hir (2015) and Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet (2012), have depicted queer lives and perspectives. Matthew Shenoda’s award-winning volume of poems, Tahrir Suite, explores the Arab Spring and its aftermath.
  • The Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize is a second-book award for African American poets, offered every other year. Partnership with the Cave Canem Foundation, the main hub for Black poetry in the United States, has given NUP collaboration with some of the most esteemed writers of color in the United States.
  • NUP partnered with the NU Poetry and Poetics Colloquium to establish The Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, showcasing the work of emerging poets of color.
  • In the planning stages is a series called Indigenous Creative Voices. This series will highlight Native American writers from across the Midwest.

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Theatre Department Faculty and Performances

The School of Communication strives to have a highly diverse theater program. At the current time, the Department of Theater has eight faculty of color (of which six are Under-Represented Minority faculty) of the 40 faculty; so 15 percent of Theatre faculty are URM, which is close to the URM population in theatre graduate programs. In the Department of Performance Studies, five of the eight faculty are URM faculty.

The school has adopted color-blind casting and has also scheduled projects that require and use casts that are entirely African-American or Latino. In 2012, the African-American alum and playwright Lydia Diamond returned to campus to mentor a production of her reworking of Toni Morrison's play “The Bluest Eye,” which had an all-black cast.  Other recent productions include in 2013 Alice Childress’ “Trouble in Mind,” with guest director Ron O.J. Parson; in 2014 the mainstage season was kicked off with Lynn Nottage’s play “Fabulation,” again with a predominantly black cast.  This year, Henry Godinez will direct Nilo Cruz’s “Anna in the Tropics,” with an all-Latino cast.

Other Academic Issues

The Asian-American Studies major is currently being reviewed in WCAS.

The summer bridge programs and the Gateway Science Workshop program have been two of the major initiatives in attracting and supporting minority students in STEM programs.  The idea of additional advising for minority students is worth considering.

The University is proceeding with the recommendation from the task force to create a research focus in Native American studies that would enable Northwestern to have significant impact in this field.  Three new faculty lines have been added, and searches are underway.  The initial emphasis is to explore the intersection of Native American studies and two fields of strength at Northwestern: outcomes related to social disparities (health, education) and humanistic expressions of culture.

The University has a CTEC committee that reviews proposals for changes in the questions.  A proposal should provide as much specificity as possible so that students in a course would all be clear about what the question is asking.

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Student Recruitment

Key Contacts: Mike Mills, Associate Provost for Enrollment Management; Chris Watson, Dean, Undergraduate Admission

In recent years, Northwestern has made significant strides in attracting students of color and students from low- and moderate-income families. In 2008, the entering class was 4.2 percent African American/Black and 6.5 percent Latino/a. For the class entering in Fall 2015, those percentages had doubled to 9.0 percent African American/Black and 13.0 percent Latino/a. In addition, the number of Chicago Public School graduates more than tripled, from 28 students in 2008 to 85 students in 2015. The number of students receiving Pell grants, who come from low-income families, also nearly doubled, going from 8.7 percent of the entering class in 2008 to 15.5 percent in 2015.

Northwestern has added a position between Admissions and Student Affairs to reach out to Native American students, and to provide a more welcoming environment for them on campus.

The Graduate School (TGS) has made tremendous progress in diverse student recruitment. An unprecedented 16% of incoming PhD students in fall of 2015 were underrepresented minority (URM) students, up from 10% in fall of 2014. In 2014, TGS also added a new optional question to its application, asking if applicants identify as a member of the LGBTQI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, or Intersex) community. For fall 2015, TGS saw that 8% of applicants, 9% of admits, and 9% of matriculants identified as LGBTQI.

Financial Aid

Northwestern Boosts Financial Aid for Students

University to eliminate loans for incoming first-year students

Northwestern announced March 3, 2016 that it will significantly increase financial aid for its students, eliminate loans for incoming undergraduate students and provide University-funded scholarships to undocumented students who are graduates of U.S. high schools. The changes, which also include increased financial assistance for graduate students and a limit on the amount of loans undergraduate students may have upon graduation, are already in place or will go into effect at the start of the 2016-17 school year.

“Northwestern University has always sought to attract the best students in the world and provide them with the financial support needed to obtain a Northwestern education. Our key priorities include enhancing existing financial aid and developing new programs that will enable even more students who are from low- and middle-income families and who are first-generation college students to attend Northwestern,” President Morton Schapiro said.

A key part of the initiative is increased aid for undergraduate students. In the past five years, Northwestern has boosted financial aid for undergraduate students by 55 percent to approximately $160 million in 2016-17. The number of enrolled students eligible for federal Pell grants, which are available to students from low-income families, has increased to approximately 15 percent of last fall’s entering first-year class.

“Our goal is to have 20 percent of the entering class be Pell-eligible by the year 2020,” President Schapiro said. “Northwestern is committed to increasing access for academically qualified students, regardless of their economic background.”

The funds for the additional financial assistance will come from gifts to the University, endowment earnings and other sources. A total of $147.2 million in scholarship funding has already been contributed to the University through We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern.

For U.S. undergraduate students, Northwestern is one of a relatively small number of colleges and universities that are “need-blind,” meaning it considers students for admission without taking into account their ability to pay. Northwestern also meets full need, meaning that after a student’s ability to pay is calculated, the University provides all the funds necessary to cover the costs above what the student’s family is able to pay.

Key initiatives that Northwestern is now undertaking include:

  • All-grant financial aid packages. Beginning next fall, all entering first-year students who qualify for Northwestern grant assistance will be awarded aid packages without any loans. Their aid offer will include only grants, scholarships, summer earnings expectations and a work-study job opportunity. The all-grant aid package would enable students to graduate without incurring debt for their main educational expenses.
  • A cap on loan indebtedness for current students. Beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, Northwestern will award its Debt Cap Scholarship to Northwestern scholarship recipients who have need-based loans in excess of $20,000. Eligible students will be awarded the Debt Cap Scholarship in place of the loan component of their financial aid award.
  • Increased financial aid for undocumented students who are graduates of U.S. high schools. Beginning with next fall’s entering class, Northwestern will provide significantly increased financial assistance to academically qualified undocumented students who attended and graduated from a U.S. high school. Even though they have graduated from U.S. high schools, undocumented students are not eligible for federal grants and loans or State of Illinois grants. Northwestern will now provide the same University-funded scholarship assistance to qualified undocumented students that it does to U.S. citizens, using private funds to provide financial aid to support their studies.

“An increasing number of outstanding high school students are those who were brought to the U.S. as small children after being born in another country. Despite Congressional efforts to make college accessible and affordable to these students through the DREAM Act, this bill has not yet been enacted. Therefore, as part of its efforts to reach out to underserved communities, Northwestern will provide increased funds to enable these students to come here,” President Schapiro said.

  • Increased financial support for undergraduate research experiences, unpaid internships and study abroad. Northwestern is making additional funds available for undergraduate students to participate in research projects, do internships or study abroad. The University will increase funding for such experiences.
  • Replacement of lost MAP funding. The Illinois Monetary Award Program (MAP), which provides tuition grants for low- and middle-income students, is not currently funded due to the lack of a state budget. Northwestern has assured all of its full-time undergraduate students that the University will replace the lost MAP funding with University funds this year. Approximately 500 Northwestern undergraduates receive a total of about $2.4 million in MAP grants.

“We continue to hope that the governor and the legislature can reach an agreement on a FY2016 budget and restore MAP funding, which supports Illinois students. In order to enable our students to continue without incurring additional costs, Northwestern will stretch its institutional resources to make up for the lost state funds,” President Schapiro said.

  • Increased stipends for graduate students. Starting this academic year, Northwestern increased the base stipend paid to Ph.D. and MFA students in the Graduate School by 26 percent, to $29,000 a year. The move was designed to enhance the quality of student life for graduate students.
  • Increased financial aid for international students. A portion of the $100 million gift made by alumna Roberta Buffett Elliott ’54 last year will help endow scholarships for international students. Up to $20 million of the gift could be used as a matching challenge grant to donors who will endow scholarships benefiting international students.
  • Increased financial assistance for law school students and young alumni. Northwestern Pritzker School of Law recently unveiled a series of initiatives to make law school more affordable and support recent law grads. Funded through giving by law school alumni and friends, including the historic $100 million gift from J.B. and M.K. Pritzker, the initiatives include assisting students with interest payments on loans incurred during law school, providing support for summer public interest internships and other measures.
  • Increased emphasis on financial aid for medical students. Currently about 50 percent of Feinberg School of Medicine students receive some type of scholarship support. Increasing scholarship support is a top fundraising priority for Feinberg in order to reduce the amount of debt that medical students incur, thereby allowing them to choose a career path determined by interest rather than potential income.
  • Increasing scholarships for business students. Across its various programs, the Kellogg School of Management has increased scholarships for students. Those efforts to provide additional support will continue.

“These new initiatives, along with other programs already in place, reaffirm the University’s commitment to making a Northwestern education accessible to qualified students from all economic backgrounds,” President Schapiro said. “With your assistance, we also will continue to strengthen our efforts to make Northwestern a welcoming and inclusive community for all students.”


Key Contacts: Patricia Telles-Irvin, Vice President for Student Affairs;  Nim Chinniah, Executive Vice President

Food service workers

Both Sodexo and Unite Here keep records of any grievances made by staff and the outcomes of such grievances. These grievances are reviewed and addressed via a stepped process agreed upon by both Sodexo and Unite Here. Both Sodexo and Unite Here representatives are involved in the review and resolution of the grievance. The university does not have a role in the grievance process, as the process is part of the collective bargaining agreement. However, major grievance issues involving possible suspension or termination are verbally shared with the Director of Dining, a Northwestern University employee.

Currently, Sodexo and Unite Here are in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement.  The university has issued a statement to Sodexo, our dining partner, about our expectations and values concerning the current union negotiation, to include a strong emphasis on the importance of social justice, outlining our core values and connecting these values to the professed values of the Sodexo Corporation. Additionally, a salary and benefits comparison has been conducted by Northwestern Human Resources and provided to Sodexo to support those expectations.

University Police

University Police Department currently has the ability to query the self-identified ethnicity and gender of all reports filed with their office. This information can be included in an annual report. It is important to note that NUPD incident reports are filed for a variety of reasons, including medical emergencies, property damage and individuals who are victimized by crime. Disclosing the demographics of all incident reports may not be the appropriate action. For clarification, it is recommended a liaison be appointed to work with NUPD to verify important, additional details relative to the intent of this demand. Specifics such as the type of incident report that demographic data will be reported on, and whether other activity such as traffic stops or field-interviews should be included in the annual-report are examples of items the liaison could work with NUPD to determine. A member of the NUPD leadership team will be assigned to work directly with the liaison to develop the template for an annual report.

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Student Services

Key Contact: Patricia Telles-Irvin, Vice President for Student Affairs

Counseling and Psychological Services

Currently, CAPS has two African American/Black, two Hispanic and two Asian descent clinicians. Additionally, there are two LGBT clinicians. CAPS is in the process of searching for two additional clinicians and is emphasizing expertise in working with students of color. Every effort will be made to bring candidates that can serve these populations well. On a regular basis, CAPS provided multicultural training to all its staff.

  • The ethical codes of conduct and professional standards mental health providers require that they develop and maintain multicultural competencies. One example are the Guidelines outlined by the American Psychological Association. There are similar pieces in the code of conduct for social workers. Licensure exams require that all mental health professionals be multiculturally competent.
  • CAPS has a professional development committee that is charged with delivering high quality professional development programs.  The committee has hosted several programs related to multicultural competencies.  For example, this year we had a speaker for a half-day to train us in the area of transgender student development.  The staff is also reading, as a group, the book “Between the World and Me,” and are having a facilitated discussion on the book.  CAPs was also a major contributor to the Power and Privilege Series that the Women’s Center hosted a couple of years ago.
  • CAPS has a very clear statement on diversity on our website.  We include the statement in all of our job announcements so as to make very clear that this is a priority for us as a center. 
  • CAPS has liaisons to MSA, LGBTQ Center and hold office hours (Let’s Talk) at MSA and the International Office.

Session limits: CAPS has been studied this matter since the fall and will have a recommendation very soon. When a student needs a more comprehensive treatment plan that goes beyond the scope of CAPS, the case manager works very hard to negotiate reduced rates from off-campus providers for our students.

Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE)

The Center for Awareness, Response and Education will continue to build upon existing partnerships to provide counseling/sit-in hours for students at Black House, MCC, GSRC, and Greek Life. The counseling/sit-in hours, due to confidentiality concerns, would need to focus on outreach and education about CARE's services and on connecting interested students with appointments or answers to questions.

Engaging these communities in the work to address rape culture, and to continue to improve survivor advocacy services and prevention education for students of color has been a high priority of CARE and MSA since the award of a federal Department of Justice-Office on Violence Against Women Grant in 2014. To this end, a CARE/MSA Task Force has been meeting throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, and will work in coordination to respond to these demands appropriately.

CARE regularly assesses the outcomes and impact of our programs and services. As it becomes available, data unique to students of color will be brought to the CARE/MSA Task Force and the Sexual Misconduct Response Team to determine what further actions are warranted. Additionally, our SHAPE and MARS peer education groups, as well as CARE staff, have a strong prevention education presence within Greek Life and are eager to continue this presence to support students of color involved in Greek Life.

CIC and Student Enrichment Services

The only position in CIC that is vacant is that of an assistant director for MSA that focuses on Asian American students. The search has commenced and the intention is to fill the position by the end of spring quarter or sooner if possible. Resources needed in areas such as the Student Enrichment Services and Social Justice Education will be proposed this coming budget cycle as these areas have shown high demand for services.

Student Enrichment Services (SES) was established through the advocacy of the Quest Scholars students to provide resources and support to low-income students. SES also works with students on a case-by-case basis to connect them with resources and to advocate for them with other university partners. The Pell Grant indicators of low-income status in the United States is a federal definition that institutions of higher education across country have adopted. However, it is understood that socioeconomic status is a multifaceted identity and that many of our students, while not Pell, still have significant financial need. As the number of Pell grant students increase to twenty percent by 2020, SES, Financial Aid, and other university partners are closely considering how to support all students with financial need.

Although CIC is not a student organization recognizing body which makes it difficult to require students to attend Real Talk trainings, which is the revamped safe space training, we will partner with Campus Life who is responsible for recognizing all organizations to incorporate Real Talk into their Student Organization Symposium that occur every spring quarter.


Following are a number of efforts that AccessibleNU and campus partners are working on or have completed within the last year (with the exception of the last item)

  • AccessibleNU Director is part of the Diversity Leaders Group and sits on the Diversity Council
  • Advocating for point-to-point mobility transport vehicle to be added to new shuttle contract
  • Co-chairing Accessibility Council (which meets quarterly) and finalizing list of recommendations for submission to senior leadership
  • Presented accessibility recommendations to Norris and for new Music and Communication building
  • Regular meetings with Facilities Management (including Common Space Program) to expand accessibility of frequently used spaces on campus (recent focus on Allison lift, Norris, and NCA)
  • Updated Procurement and Payment Services policy to encourage the purchase of accessible technology from the request-for-bid phase through the purchase/implementation phase
  • Working currently with staff from NUIT (including CIO), Procurement & Payment Services, and web developers (especially those who are part of the Web Developers Accessibility Working Group) from Web Communications, SAIT, Global Marketing, and other academic, Student Affairs, and administrative areas of the University to delineate a vetting process for the purchase of accessible technology
  • Working with School of Communication, Teaching & Learning Technologies, and a student group to create a comprehensive list of all the looped (assistive-listening-device-ready) classrooms at Northwestern
  • Working with CIC and students to develop a student organization around disability advocacy while advising or otherwise collaborating with Project Eye-to-Eye (NU students with LD and/or AD/HD mentoring younger students with these conditions) the Sweet Life (formerly College Diabetes Network), Active Minds, Autism Speaks Northwestern, Alcoholics Anonymous group, ASL Club, Northwestern Veterans Association
  • Partnering with Risk Management and Dance Marathon to develop a process and inviting language to incorporate reasonable accommodations into DM from the application phase through the actual event
  • Partnered with Audiology Clinic (part of the Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning) so that NU students with hearing loss can seamlessly get needs and accommodations met on site
  • Partnered with Learning Disabilities Clinic (part of the Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning) to reduce the price of learning disability and AD/HD evaluations for NU students and have long partnered with Financial Aid so that the cost of these types of evaluations can typically be covered
  • AccessibleNU created a Faculty Advisory Board last year (with which it meets quarterly) to improve information flow between faculty and AccessibleNU and provide faculty not part of the Board with a peer they can go to with questions/concerns
  • Partnered with Residential Services, Northwestern Dining, CAPS, and Health Service to improve the efficiency and ease with which students apply for and receive housing- and meal-plan related accommodations
  • Partnered with NCA colleagues to develop a liaison model whereby students with disabilities can receive specialized career counseling that addresses questions such as whether and when to disclose (if they have invisible disabilities)
  • Related to above, for the class of 2015, full-time employment rate 6 months post-graduation of students with disabilities did not differ significantly from that of students without disabilities (contrary to the typically found national trend)
  • AccessibleNU worked with the Registrar, Student Enterprise Systems, and SAIT to develop a confidential efficient means of tracking ANU students’ persistence, graduation rates, and leaves to be in a position provide more informed and supportive advising of students
  • Working with NUIT, SPS Distance Learning, and Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching to develop courses to instruct faculty in creating and adding only accessible content to their Canvas course sites
  • Present all over Northwestern to student, staff, and faculty groups as well as nationally to raise awareness of disability-based microaggressions
  • Deloitte endowment out of recognition for the efforts of our office on behalf of students (only item that didn’t happen within last year; took place about 2 years ago)
  • Adding captions to more A/V materials presented to incoming students.
  • Poised to provide information related to the history of discrimination experienced by Northwestern students with disabilities (much of which we have already researched at the University Archives and the Daily Online) and successful efforts by student organizations such as Wheels of Change

Wildcat Welcome

New Student & Family Programs will aim to build an even more intentional framework in how we discuss identities, difference, and building socially just communities as part of a larger development of a first-year experience initiative (for both first-year college students and transfer students). 

For 2016, we are further expanding the leadership and training course in which all Peer Advisers (and Family Ambassadors) take during the spring quarter to more robustly include identity development and understanding how your own identities impact the way in which you support and connect with others; in order to be an advocate, mentor, and leader, you must first understand yourself and how your identities (and constructs related to those identities) differ from others. Through this training, Peer Advisers will be better equipped to facilitate purposeful and meaningful conversations surrounding inclusion, how one’s changed identity salience impacts transition, and the connection of identities in conversations surrounding alcohol, sexual assault/violence, and holistic wellness (both physical and mental) within brave spaces.

The expansion of Peer Adviser training will also support a slight alteration in the approach of Wildcat Welcome educational sessions (such as ENUs). For 2016, the focus of educational sessions will focus on helping students to reflect on their own experiences and backgrounds within certain conversations to better understand who they are within this community. By doing so, New Student & Family Programs provides a more strategic foundational learning experience for first-year students; students will then participate in structured conversations within their PA group and within their Residence Hall throughout the first year that will build from that foundation. Portions of these conversations include identities, honest reflections on identities within today’s Northwestern community, and to understand your role in aiding in the development of a socially just community.

In the 2015 Wildcat Welcome survey, six hundred first-year students responded to the question, “Where would you go to learn more about yourself and/or others with differences?” The Multicultural Center, MSA, Campus Inclusion and Community, student groups, and the Black House topped the list, as depicted in the figure below:

Figure of responses to the question of where new students would go to learn about others with differences

New Student & Family Programs will examine the communication delivered to incoming students through its summer series of publications and multimedia content. In association with the newly formed, University-wide New Student Communications Committee, NSFP will look to insert University history components within this communication, including the history of student activism.

Through the understanding of student development theory and working to create a seamless first-year experience that builds progressive education throughout the year as opposed to solely during a six-day time period, New Student and Family Programs strives to help students transition to this community, to college academics, and to a new social atmosphere.

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Key Contacts: Nim Chinniah, Executive Vice President; Will McLean, Vice President and Chief Investment Officer

Members of the Board of Trustees Investment Committee, including its chair, have met with students on issues regarding divestment on several occasions. The trustees continue to do so, including a meeting in late January.

Northwestern plans to create a committee on responsible investing that would act as an advisor to the president and the chief investment officer. Made up of students, alumni, faculty and staff, the committee will provide input on investing principles, proxy voting and related issues. This would establish a continuing basis for students to have a voice in the University’s investment activities. Northwestern recently signed on the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investing, in which investors consider environmental, social and corporate governance issues. Student input and discussions with members of the Investment Committee were helpful in making this happen. The new committee is designed to foster campus-wide discussion, as well as provide additional guidance on investment-related issues.

Northwestern has applied to be a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investing. The U.N.-supported Principles for Responsible Investing is an international network of investors working to put six guiding principles into practice. They broadly address the importance of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues for investors to consider when making investment choices.
The U.N.-supported Principles are:

  • We will incorporate ESG issues into investment analysis and decision-making processes.
  • We will be active owners and incorporate ESG issues into our ownership policies and practices.
  • We will seek appropriate disclosure on ESG issues by the entities in which we invest.
  • We will promote acceptance and implementation of the Principles within the investment industry.
  • We will work together to enhance our effectiveness in implementing the Principles.
  • We will each report on our activities and progress towards implementing the Principles.

Becoming a signatory means that Northwestern will submit a publicly available report that documents details of the University’s organization and investment process. However, the reporting is high level and does not disclose individual investments or external investment managers.

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