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Updates After a Busy Summer

Dear faculty and staff,

From Chicago to Qatar, class is in session for many of our programs. The Evanston campus too will fill up during the next two weeks in preparation for the 2023-24 academic year. As we all get ready for the excitement, traditions and obligations of the fall, we want to provide some updates on news from the summer.

University priorities and guiding principles

After spending much of last year gathering feedback and input from our schools and units and then sharing some details during inauguration events, we are pleased to enter the academic year by unveiling a new set of University priorities and guiding principles that speak to our personal connections, our societal obligations, our commitment to expanding the frontiers of knowledge, and our limitless potential to improve ourselves and the world around us. In addition to the institution-wide priorities, school and unit leaders will develop additional goals that may be complementary to the University priorities or may lead us, together, in new and exciting directions. We look forward to celebrating our achievements in support of these shared ambitions.

Race-conscious admissions

Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in June that prohibits race-conscious admissions in higher education, Northwestern has adapted its practices to ensure the University remains in compliance with the law while intensifying our efforts to protect and support Northwestern’s significant progress toward diversifying our community. A working group of University leaders has engaged with students, faculty, staff and administrators to ensure that we have a variety of perspectives represented as we develop additional strategies. Although the Supreme Court decision expressed skepticism about the tangible benefits of diversity, we remain fundamentally committed to bringing together people of different backgrounds to exchange ideas and learn from one another.

Campus safety and security enhancements

In response to community concerns about safety and well-being on our campuses, we have conducted a thorough review of our incident response protocols and practices. On Aug. 31, we implemented new security measures for our Evanston campus buildings that require more regular and frequent use of Wildcards to access our facilities. We are also working with key University partners to update emergency plans and conduct emergency response and recovery exercises. We will provide additional updates in the fall to further outline the steps we are taking to best protect our community and respond to incidents when they occur.

Athletics progress

There is no doubt that this past summer has been a challenging one for our Athletics program and our university. Part of what makes Northwestern distinctive is our depth and our breadth. Our athletic program is part of our excellence, and we are committed to our student-athletes who pour their hearts and souls into a wide variety of sports while simultaneously excelling in the classroom. This commitment starts with doing whatever is necessary to ensure that their safety and welfare is promoted.

This summer, as a result of an investigation into hazing involving our football team, the Athletics department collaborated with several campus partners to institute enhanced anti-hazing measures, including an anonymous reporting system and mandatory anti-hazing training. We are grateful to members of our Athletics staff, including our coaches, for working hard to care for and mentor our student-athletes in a difficult environment. Meanwhile, we have engaged former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her colleagues from the Paul Weiss law firm to review our Athletics program’s culture and the accountability mechanisms we have in place to ensure student well-being and promote our core values as a leading academic institution. During the course of their work, they will engage directly with faculty, students, staff and alumni to hear a broad range of voices and perspectives. Their results will be made public at the conclusion of the review.

Fall is a busy time for updates and reminders, so please look out for messages about University safety, teaching resources and, of course, the traditional welcome on the first day of the Fall Quarter. We look forward to seeing everyone back on our campuses soon!