I love fall at Northwestern. A new academic year kicks off, and it’s about a lot more than parking lots getting more crowded or the lines getting longer at our campus eateries: It’s about that renewed burst of energy that the whole Northwestern community gets, from Evanston to Chicago to Doha, Qatar. It’s also about recognizing how that energy is driving a great university forward in an incredibly wide-ranging mission — to build up some of the world’s most promising young talent, to push forward frontiers in every academic field and to provide the best health care, culture and community service to the larger world. And, of course, it’s also time for another season of Northwestern athletics and that give-it-your-all Wildcat spirit.
That same spirit, in our alumni and the broader University community, has helped support initiatives to expand opportunities for our students, build on our areas of excellence and transform our campuses. As you’ll see inside this issue of the beautifully redesigned Northwestern Magazine, we have surpassed our original, joint goals for We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern of raising $3.75 billion from 141,000 individual donors. We are truly grateful to those of you who have made gifts throughout the Campaign and who continue to give each and every year. To build on the Campaign’s rapid success and to pursue emerging academic priorities, we have set new goals to raise $5 billion from 170,000 donors by the end of 2020. (See “Northwestern Increases Campaign Goal to $5 Billion,” We Will Update.)
Among the exciting projects advanced by the “We Will” Campaign currently underway is the cutting-edge Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center, which will open in early 2019 on our Chicago campus. It will house more than 800 Northwestern researchers, along with an additional 640 researchers from Lurie Children’s Hospital. Together they will investigate the causes — and, we hope, develop the cures — for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s, cancer and others that affect so many people and their families.
The Simpson Querrey building symbolizes our distinct identity at Northwestern. One of the things that sets Northwestern apart is that it isn’t just a premier university — it’s a premier research university, proud of its ability to solve the world’s most pressing problems. We’ve risen dramatically in research productivity compared with our peers in recent years, and we now receive more than $700 million in research funding annually, placing us among the top 25 universities nationally. Thanks to the addition of the Simpson Querrey building and renovations to key science and engineering buildings on the Evanston campus, Northwestern can attract even more of the best scientific researchers.
Of course, student life is the beating heart of the Northwestern experience, and that heart is beating ever stronger. The class of 2022 that just recently participated in March Through the Arch is a remarkable group chosen from more than 40,000 applicants, of whom only 8 percent were accepted. The ACT middle-range score for the class is 32–35 on a 36-point scale. The students come from 49 states — I’m determined that we’ll get a great one from North Dakota next year! — and 54 different countries. They’re incomparably bright, and they bring an especially broad range of interests and skills.
We’ve been building even greater diversity and quality into the Northwestern student body: For the past several years, we’ve enabled more high-achieving students from any financial background to attend Northwestern by increasing our financial aid and by eliminating loans for undergraduate students. Here’s another milestone: This fall, 20 percent of the entering class is eligible for Pell Grants, which help lower-income students to attend college. This means that Northwestern is now near the top of all private research universities in terms of the economic diversity of its undergraduate students. We’ve also made strides in expanding support for our graduate students and in increasing financial aid for law, business and medical school students, in order to reduce their loan burdens and give them stronger starts in their careers.
I’m pleased to report the appointment of some talented new academic leaders, including Kimberly Yuracko, the new dean of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, and Annelise Riles, executive director of the Buffett Institute for Global Studies. They bring outstanding academic credentials and deep experience to their posts. Working with Provost Jonathan Holloway, who’s moving into his second year at Northwestern, they will provide strong leadership to these key academic areas. We also have begun the search for a new dean for the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.
If you haven’t been to our Evanston campus lately, there’s so much new to see. The heightened energy at Northwestern that I mentioned at the beginning is magnified by the world-class expansion of facilities that our alumni and friends have made possible. Walk through the astonishing Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletic Center, the Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, Kresge Hall, the Kellogg Global Hub and the newly renovated Welsh-Ryan Arena, and you’ll get the sense that something historic is happening. Your generosity makes dreams come true.
And so allow me to cordially invite you to return to Northwestern this year — for Homecoming, class reunions and other events on our campuses. If you can’t be here, Mimi and I hope to see you at one of the many alumni events that we’ll host around the globe this academic year. We’ll be there to say thank you — and to talk about what comes next for our Northwestern family.
President and Professor