Opening New Doors

Dear Northwestern alumni,

The 2016–17 academic year has just begun, and we are looking forward to what promises to be a terrific year for Northwestern on all of our campuses. Students in the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and Northwestern University in Qatar already are in class, and our other undergraduate and graduate students will be arriving soon.

They are a remarkable group. This year’s entering undergraduate class of approximately 1,950 first-year students will be our most talented and most diverse ever. Northwestern received more than 35,000 applications for admission for this year, the most in the University’s history and a testament to the value that is placed on a Northwestern education. Ninety percent of the incoming first-year students graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and the number of National Merit Scholars enrolling also will be an all-time high.

As important, approximately 17 percent of this year’s class will be eligible for federal Pell grants, which are available to students from low-income families. Our goal is to have 20 percent of the entering class be Pell eligible by the year 2020. This fall, all entering first-year students who qualify for Northwestern grant assistance will be awarded aid packages without any loans. Their aid offer will include only grants, scholarships, summer earnings expectations and a work-study job opportunity. The all-grant aid package will enable students to graduate without incurring debt for their main educational expenses. We also have increased stipends for graduate students and financial assistance for our professional students in law, business and medicine.

Northwestern is committed to increasing access for academically qualified students, regardless of their economic background. Our key priorities include enhancing existing financial aid and developing new programs that will enable even more students who are from low- and middle-income families and who are first-generation college students to attend Northwestern as undergraduate, graduate and professional school students.

The funds for the additional financial assistance will come mainly from gifts to the University, endowment earnings and other sources. Northwestern is fortunate to have both a large endowment and generous alumni, parents and friends; we will continue to use those resources for the benefit of our students.

We also plan to open three important buildings this year: the new Kellogg global hub and a completely renovated Kresge Centennial Hall on the Evanston campus and the first building of our own for NU-Q in Doha. Located on the lakefront with stunning views of Lake Michigan, the new Kellogg global hub will provide state-of-the-art facilities for business students and faculty, as well as offices for our renowned Department of Economics.

While the renovation of Kresge may be a somewhat less high-profile project, I am particularly pleased to see it nearing completion and eager to see it in its new form. At a time when many universities are cutting back on the humanities, this top-to-bottom renovation of Kresge, home to many of our humanities departments, demonstrates Northwestern’s continuing strong commitment to this vital part of the University. Undoubtedly many of you endured classes in Kresge when it was in less-than-optimal condition; I hope you will return to campus and see its transformation to an inviting, innovative center for education.

Our new building in Doha symbolizes North­western’s importance in the Middle East. Now in its ninth year, NU-Q is graduating students in journalism and communication who already are influencing those fields in that region. I attend the graduation ceremony for NU-Q each May, and every time I do, I come away impressed by the passion and ambition of those students.

Other important building projects also are well underway, particularly the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center in Chicago. The new state-of-the-art research center, comprising approximately 600,000 square feet, will have nine laboratory floors. It has been designed to accommodate an additional 16 laboratory floors. It will provide space for investigators and collaborators who are developing new ways to apply nanotechnology to regenerative medicine, as well as other biomedical scientists working in cancer, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders and genetics. The building will help draw the most talented research faculty, PhD students and postdoctoral fellows, and will provide new research opportunities for medical students, residents and clinical fellows on both the Evanston and Chicago campuses.

As I have said previously, however, while the buildings are critical to the University’s continued growth, what’s important is what happens inside those buildings. The Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center will ­provide space for faculty who will research the causes and cures of deadly diseases such as Alzheimer’s, ALS, cancer and others. The research funding that those faculty ­members bring to Northwestern — now more than $600 million
annually — brings Northwestern recognition. More importantly, it brings hope to patients and families whose lives are afflicted by those diseases.

Much of the success has been made possible through the gifts received in We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern. As a result of your annual support, the University has been able to move forward in funding the initiatives outlined in our strategic plan. From the humanities to science and technology to the fine and performing arts, gifts from Northwestern alumni and friends of the University have been critical in advancing our missions of teaching and research. I’m also very pleased to note that the number of alumni, parents, faculty, staff and friends making a gift as part of the campaign is nearing 120,000, an indication of the breadth of the support we have received. Total giving to the campaign now approaches $3 billion, so we are making significant progress on reaching our goal of $3.75 billion, although there is still much work to do. I am deeply grateful for the remarkable generosity of the Northwestern community in supporting the campaign priorities.

In summary, thanks to your support, the hard work of our brilliant faculty and dedicated staff and the remarkable achievements of our students, Northwestern has never been stronger. We understand clearly that the University is not immune to the challenges facing higher education nationally, and we recognize our obligation as a nonprofit institution to benefit society generally. I am confident that, with your ongoing commitment, we will continue to succeed in our important mission of advancing knowledge through education and research. I hope to see you in the coming year, either on one of our campuses or at one of the many alumni events around the world.

Go ’Cats!

Morton Schapiro
President and Professor

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