Morton Schapiro.

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro announced today that he will conclude his tenure as president at the end of August 2022 at the age of 69.

Applications for Northwestern’s undergraduate class have nearly doubled since Schapiro took office in September 2009 as the schools’ 16th president. And the acceptance rate has dropped from 27% to 7%. Enrollment from underrepresented student groups also has doubled.

Bolstered by one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in higher education history, which has raised $5.3 billion to date, the University has more than doubled its endowment from $5.8 billion to $12.2 billion.

Fifty major construction projects that have provided 3.5 million square feet in new or renovated space on its campuses.

Schapiro also launched an era of active civic engagement, committing considerable scholarly and financial resources to its community through programs such as Northwestern Academy and the Good Neighbor Fund.

President Schapiro and Mayor Tisdahl at the 2012 State of the City luncheon.

Elizabeth Tisdahl, who’d just taken office as mayor herself months before Schapiro started at NU, was credited with breaking the ice in what had been a frosty relationship between the city and the school with what she called her “cookie diplomacy” campaign.

That eventually led to the University pledging in 2015 to make an annual $1 million donation to the city, which was increased last year with an additional $500,000 for racial equity and social justice programs in Evanston and Chicago.

Rumors of Schapiro’s potential retirement became a factor in this year’s Evanston mayoral campaign, with mayor-elect Daniel Biss saying he hoped to convince a new university president to make a larger commitment of support to the Evanston community.

Schapiro has also faced criticism for his handling of last fall’s student protests demanding the abolition of the school’s police department. At a candidate forum Wednesday night Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, said the protests “would have been a lot less disruptive, if the response from the president had been more productive.”

“During President Schapiro’s tenure, Northwestern has further established itself as one of the world’s very finest academic institutions,” said J. Landis Martin, chairman of the Northwestern Board of Trustees.

“Since he took office,” Martin added, “the University has improved by every relevant measure. We will celebrate what we have achieved and continue to achieve under President Schapiro’s leadership. And, in the coming weeks, the Board of Trustees will announce steps toward identifying his successor, including the formation of a search committee that will represent Northwestern’s many constituencies.”

“It is an honor to work alongside our faculty, staff, students, trustees and alumni at this moment in Northwestern’s history,” Schapiro said. “I’ve watched this brilliant academic community accomplish unimaginable things in the past eleven-and-a-half years, even during a historic global health emergency that has tested the resolve of everyone.”

He expressed a commitment to continuing to address key initiatives in the next 18 months. “We have the opportunity to bring a strong close to this chapter of Northwestern’s history, and then prepare well for the next one,” Schapiro said. “Our goal of reaching $1 billion in annual sponsored research funding is within reach. We have a chance to make the University more diverse and more inclusive than ever before. And, after we put the finishing touches on our We Will fundraising campaign, we soon will begin laying the groundwork for the next one. All this is necessary to ensure Northwestern’s success in perpetuity.”

Shapiro’s letter to the NU community

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *