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Celebrating a Sense of Excitement and Possibility

I hope you feel as I do — full of excitement and inspiration...”

Dear members of the Northwestern community,

As we prepare for Homecoming and Reunion Weekend, I would like to take an opportunity during these first weeks of the 2023-2024 academic year to share the sense of excitement and possibility I believe we all have before us.

To do so, I’d like to relay a short story. A few weeks ago, as international students were moving into the University, I took a shortcut through a parking lot and saw a cab let out a young man with two BIG suitcases and an equally big smile. He had arrived directly from O’Hare and had never been to America. Unlike many of the alumni who will be visiting this weekend, he didn’t really know where he was going, so I did my best to help. 

Immediately, a couple of students jumped in along with staff to get him settled. This very small event illustrates for me some of the reasons our University is so great. We are a diverse community and a community full of people who are willing to venture into unfamiliar places with courage — all for the quest of knowledge and community. And we are a great community, full of people who care about one another. I was reminded of that again and again as I greeted first-year and transfer students over the next week and at Convocation.

Now that we have started the academic year, our students and faculty are back in the classroom. We also welcomed several hundred new faculty who are beginning their own adventures at Northwestern. Most of our faculty were busily working over the summer, doing pathbreaking research and getting ready for a new quarter. In fact, we learned a few weeks ago that Northwestern faculty in fiscal year 2023, for the first time, brought in over $1 billion of research funding. That is an incredible achievement!

Another sign of the new school year is the sound of fans cheering on our exceptional student-athletes. I already have been to four football games, two soccer games, a field hockey game, and I look forward to attending volleyball in the next week or so. I am so proud of our student-athletes. On the sports fields and in the classrooms, our student-athletes thrive, successfully balancing the many demands on their time while exemplifying the hard work and dedication that makes us proud to be Wildcats.

Our coaches continually strive to bring out the best in our young folks along all dimensions of personal development. They not only are great teachers, but they exhibit deep caring and provide exemplars of resilience and commitment. I am sure many of you will attend Wildcat games this weekend, and I hope you will cheer on our student-athletes and coaches as hard as I will.

One of Northwestern’s exceptional characteristics is its breadth and depth. We believe in being excellent in academics, in research, in the performing and creative arts, in athletics and in building student leadership skills. This quest for excellence is demonstrated by all of our students every day, in the classrooms and laboratories, on our stages and on the playing fields.

So welcome back to campus — whether you have just returned for the school year or are visiting your campus home again for your reunion and homecoming. I hope you feel as I do — full of excitement and inspiration and energized by our mission to create new knowledge and educate the leaders of our nation and the world.

P.S. You can find out more about how you can get involved in homecoming week on the Northwestern Alumni website. You also can check out our Wildcats sports schedule to find a home game this weekend and the weeks ahead to support our ’Cats.