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Fall Welcome

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

Welcome to the first day of Fall Quarter and the 2021-2022 academic year at Northwestern. 

We want to extend special greetings to the newest additions to the Wildcat family — 2,321 entering undergraduate students and 4,514 graduate and professional students, who together make up the strongest combined incoming student cohort in Northwestern history.

The Class of 2025 was selected from a record-high pool of 48,000 applicants — a 20% increase over the previous year. While rising interest in Northwestern reflects a growing awareness of the excellence of the people at this University, it also has given us the opportunity to diversify our community further: Black students comprise 12% of the first-year class, up from 10% the previous year and nearly double the figure from a decade ago. Hispanic and Latinx students comprise nearly 17%; Native-American, Native-Hawaiian or indigenous students, 1.8%; first-generation college students, 15%; Pell Grant recipients, more than 20%; and Chicago Public Schools graduates, 6%.

Today marks our long-awaited return to full campus operations, yet this activity will continue to demand everyone’s vigilance, flexibility, compassion and collaboration. We will, of course, monitor campus conditions and be informed by the latest public health guidance at every step.

In another confirmation of the growing confidence the world places in the University’s people and their work, Northwestern’s research enterprise has reported a final tally of $893.4 million in sponsored research funding for the 2021 fiscal year. This record high represents a remarkable 70% growth over the past decade.

A primary focus of Northwestern is to meet the world’s most pressing needs. We’re deeply proud of the manner in which our academic community has been bringing such a focus to the ongoing pandemic. Interdisciplinary teams have been investigating the biology and structure of the coronavirus, exploring drug targets for potential future coronaviruses, understanding and treating COVID-related pneumonia, assessing the stresses that the pandemic is placing on society and especially on marginalized communities and informing policy-making through a variety of collaborations spanning our 40 research centers and institutes.

Meanwhile, our students, staff and faculty continue to facilitate and engage in teaching, discovery, innovation, public service and artistic creation at the very highest levels. It is this dedication to excellence, across the full spectrum of human endeavor, that makes us so proud to be a part of this community.  

The previous year brought out the best in our people and inspired our lasting gratitude. Again, we welcome our newest members, and we look forward to an academic year filled with promise. May we all embrace the opportunity to realize this promise and to leave a worthy legacy in the process.