From the Editor
How fitting that this issue of Crosscurrents, my final as editor, features the remarkable story of Marco Ruffini—discovering after all these centuries that a crucifix in Padua is actually the work of Renaissance master Donatello. In my 13 years at Weinberg College, the discoveries that take place here—some of which have changed the world—have become a constant source of fascination and renewal for me, and, I hope, for you. This has been much more than a job—it's been a passion. My mind has been challenged and stretched in a thousand different ways. And while I leave the telling of future stories to my worthy successors as I retire, I wanted to share a few of my favorites:
Chemist Rick Silverman discovering the compound which became Lyrica, relieving nerve pain for thousands. Historian John Hunwick discovering treasure troves of documents in Timbuktu, a rich history written by Africans in Arabic. Sociologist John Hagan discovering that the death toll in Darfur was in the hundreds of thousands, information that revealed to the whole world the extent of that country's genocide. It's been an honor to be even a small part of such a noble enterprise as Northwestern.
With this job, I got to sample many of the "roads not taken" in my past. Every time I met professors like Bill Leonard and Thom McDade in anthropology, and Brad Sageman and Steve Jacobsen in earth and planetary science, I became so enchanted with their work that I wanted to go to college all over again and major in their fields. (But I can't say the same for the brilliant chemists and physicists: I know my limitations, even in fantasy!)
It was thrilling to meet such alums as Disney animator John Musker, creator of The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, and Ed Weiler, father of the Hubble Telescope. I learned from Steve Preston that one person can improve how the government functions for those most in need. Most inspiring of all has been getting to know the students who—with guidance from caring professors—grab every opportunity available to them and are determined to make this planet a better place.
Northwestern and Weinberg College are soaring, according to so many meaningful measures—Rhodes scholarships, Fulbrights, a Nobel prize. But the best measure of the value of this place, from my standpoint anyway, is the kindness I have experienced daily, from the wonderful staff in the Dean's office (especially my supervisors, Associate Deans Marie Jones and Steve Bates), to the interviewees of all those stories, as they so patiently explained their life's work and helped me to "get it right." And to those alumni and friends reading this: Thank you for the privilege of letting me bring their stories into your homes and for sharing in the process of discovery, which is at the very heart of Northwestern, and is now such an indelible part of me.
Nancy DeneenBack to top