A new chapter in town-gown relationships was forged Thursday morning at Evanston Township High School.

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro, Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, and ETHS Superintendent Eric Witherspoon (L-R in photo above) performed a celebratory ribbon-cutting to open a new office in the center of the school for a new fulltime coordinator to help students utilize the vast resources available at the university.

The coordinator, Kristen Perkins, started her new job this week at the opening of the 2012 school year in a position funded by the university as part of President Schapiro’s “Good Neighbor, Great University” initiative that focuses at ETHS on the STEM courses—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Part of her duties will be to arrange field trips for the high school students to cutting-edge science labs at the university, where basic research is being conducted in a number of areas, and to facilitate the process for finding the right Northwestern resource to augment various needs at the high school.

Kristen Perkins, the new Northwestern-ETHS coordinator, mingles with community representatives at Thursday’s grand opening of her new office.

Witherspoon, terming the arrangement  “an amazing, rich resource,” said it will “bring the latest research into the science classroom and ultimately the best instruction into the classroom.”

Schapiro, touting a strong school system as vital to the Evanston community, said that part of the motivation is a moral obligation of Northwestern to “do the right thing.” On a more practical level, he said, many of the ETHS students are sons and daughters of employees of the university.

“We’re interested in taking a really great school and making it a pre-eminent school,” he declared.

Schapiro, Witherspoon, and Tisdahl at the new coordinator’s office, decked out in Northwestern purple, with scenes of the university on the walls.

Witherspoon noted that when the idea was first conceived and presented to Schapiro, “it took Morty a nanosecond to say ‘let’s do it’.”

Mayor Tisdahl, a former member of the ETHS District 202 School Board, touted the benefits of collaboration in community governance and said “we now have a visible office to show that there is a collaboration.”

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. Don’t stop at STEM

    Sounds great but why limit the cooperation to STEM courses?  Why not facilitate opportunities for ETHS students to appreciate theatrical performances, art exhibits, and other cultural offerings?

  2. Great partnership

    This is the kind of partnership that demonstrates what positive things can happen in a unique place like Evanston.  Let's keep this sort of thing coming!  Thanks to Northwestern and ETHS for leading the way.

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