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I’m Very Sorry to Deliver This News

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

This letter is among the most difficult and painful I have ever written. Today was supposed to be my first day on campus as President-elect, in anticipation of succeeding Morton Schapiro as your next president on Sept. 1. Last week, I learned that I have an aggressive form of cancer, which will require all my strength and resolve to fight, prohibiting me from being able to serve as your next president.

The job of president requires multiple events, long days, travel and constant energy, especially in the first year. I have always been able to deliver this in previous jobs, but my doctors advise me that the treatments I am starting will make it almost impossible to do the job you need in a new president. I do not have the words to express to you how disappointed and sad I am to be telling you this. I was excited to be joining you at Northwestern, a world-class institution that is near and dear to my heart.

As heartbreaking as this is for me, I take solace in knowing Northwestern is in great hands. Although I have not been on campus full-time, I have had the opportunity to talk with many campus leaders over the past eight months. It is clear that NU has tremendous leadership, outstanding faculty and staff, and a wonderful group of students.

We all know that nothing in life is guaranteed. This last week has probably brought the biggest changes that I have ever experienced in such a short period of time. I am grieving the lost opportunities to work with all of you across campus to make Northwestern even better in the years ahead. But I remain just as excited for you and for the institution as I was when I accepted Northwestern’s invitation to be your next president. I will continue to cheer you every step of the way as you continue forward.

I wish you all the best. I am grateful for the welcome you have given me over these past months.