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A Time of Renewal

President's Letter


Dear Northwestern Alumni,

Welcome back! Each fall brings the start of a new academic year, and for those of us fortunate to work at a great university such as Northwestern, there's always a sense of renewal at this time of year. The campus is increasingly busy during the summer, with numerous programs for elementary, middle school and high school students as well as our own summer programs. Fall, however, signals the beginning of another year of academic opportunities and experiences. And those of you who survived Northwestern's quarter system undoubtedly also remember the need for a quick start — midterms will be coming soon.

This fall's entering classes at all levels include a remarkably strong and diverse group of individuals. At the undergraduate level we had more than 18,000 applications, the highest number in the University's history and nearly 2,000 more than our previous record, for an entering class of approximately 2,000 students. Enrollments in our professional and graduate schools also were exceptionally strong this year, including the first students in our new doctoral program in African American studies and an increasing number of outstanding students who are enrolling in the joint JD-MBA program offered by the School of Law and the Kellogg School of Management.

We also this fall will welcome a new group of faculty members who are joining impressive ranks of scholars, teachers and researchers. In the past year, our faculty have received numerous honors, including

  • Larry Jameson, Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine, who was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine, which honors professional achievement in the health sciences

  • Brian M. Hoffman, professor of chemistry, who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences for his distinguished and continuing achievements in original research

  • Darlene Clark Hine, Board of Trustees Professor of African American Studies and professor of history; Richard Kieckhefer, John Evans Professor in Religion; Richard Kraut, Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor in the Humanities; Lee Epstein, visiting law professor who will become the Beatrice Kuhn Professor in the fall; and Abraham Nitzan, visiting professor in chemistry for five years starting in the fall, who were elected fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the country's oldest and most distinguished learned society

Also in the past year our students or recent graduates have received 20 Fulbright scholarships and one of the only 15 Luce scholarships awarded for international research. Two recent graduates, Laura Hughes (WCAS06) and Rachel Pike (WCAS06), and two 2005 graduates, Benjamin Gross (WCAS05) and Thomas Johnson III (WCAS05), were named Gates Cambridge Scholars. In fact, Northwestern students or recent graduates captured four of the only 40 such scholarships awarded last year. In addition, a Kellogg student, Amit Bouri, received a Soros Fellowship.

We also enjoyed unprecedented success in our athletic program last year. The women's lacrosse team captured its second straight NCAA national championship, losing only one game all year and overpowering many of its opponents. Kristen Kjellman was selected as the nation's top collegiate female lacrosse athlete, also for the second straight year. (See "A Season of Champions.") Matt Grevers of the men's swimming and diving team also repeated as the NCAA champion in the 100 backstroke. In addition, the women's doubles tennis tandem of Cristelle Grier (WCAS06) and Alexis Prousis claimed the national doubles championship despite entering the tournament unseeded. And finally, the women's softball team just missed a national championship, finishing as the runner-up in the Women's College World Series after winning the Big Ten regular season title. We're very proud of these students and their coaches, not just for their athletic accomplishments but also for the way that they represented the University in front of national audiences.

The success of our spring sports teams was tempered by the loss of our football coach, Randy Walker, who died suddenly this summer from an apparent heart attack. Randy was someone who exemplified the principles of Northwestern athletics: to compete at the highest level on the field while maintaining the academic integrity of the institution. Under his leadership, Northwestern's football teams not only went to three bowl games but every year had either the highest or one of the highest graduation rates in the country among Division I-A teams. I lost a good friend in Randy, and the University lost a great coach.

This has been a great year for alumni programs, from the premiere of the opera Doctor Atomic in San Francisco to the celebrations at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, to the wonderful Broadway event in New York. The coming year will include many more opportunities for Northwestern alumni to return to campus and for Northwestern to come to your community. For information on events and activities, go to the Northwestern Alumni Association web site at

I also hope that you will continue to support Northwestern financially. Alumni giving helps provide financial aid for students, support academic programs and augment the services that Northwestern offers to its students.

Finally, I offer my thanks to you for the many good things that you do both for the University and in your communities. Just as you were as students, many of you are engaged in a variety of productive activities in your professions, volunteer organizations and communities, a fact that makes us proud. One of the benefits of being Northwestern's president for more than a decade has been the opportunity to get to know so many of you, either when you were students here or through the many alumni activities. I look forward to seeing you again on campus or at an alumni event in the coming year.

Best wishes,

Henry S. Bienen

President Henry S. Bienen
President Henry S. Bienen Photo by Andrew Campbell