From the Dean
As we prepare to welcome another outstanding freshman class, I think back to a moment last spring when I doubted our success. Last winter was long and cold, and April, which should have been spring, set records for cold, gray, wet days. Then, on April 18th when I woke up, looked out my window and saw snow on the ground, my heart sank because it was one of our Wildcat Days, when admitted students visit campus before making their final decisions. I was sure that we were not going to win over any potential recruits from California, Florida, Texas, or Arizona. But, despite the snow on Wildcat Days, our yield, i.e., the percentage of students we admitted who accepted our offer, increased this year!
For the first time, our June convocation was held outside, in Ryan Field, with alumna Emily Heisley Stoeckel as our inspiring speaker. Emily graduated from Weinberg in 1987 with a degree in Economics. She is now the Chairman of one of Chicago’s largest enterprises, the Heico Companies and Heico Holding Incorporated, which owns more than 50 companies worldwide. At convocation I took a moment to reflect on just how dazzling our students are, some from the moment they arrive, others as they grow and flourish during their four years on campus. The class of 2014 contained more National Merit Scholars than that of any other school in the country except Harvard. Northwestern also ranked in the top 10 for Fulbright fellowships for the fifth straight year. Alumna Veronica Roth (’10) who last year received a book contract with HarperCollins, has recently signed a movie deal for her novel, Divergent. Divergent debuted on the New York Times Bestseller List just this May. Our Northwestern Debate Team is again the best in the country after becoming the 2011 National Debate Tournament champions (our 14th national championship—more than any other university). Weinberg seniors Matt Fisher and Stephanie Spies made history as the first duo to win both the National Debate Tournament and the Tournament of Champions. And our remarkable Women’s Lacrosse Team brought home a sixth NCAA championship in seven years, with a thrilling 8-7 victory over top-seeded Maryland.
Once again, our world-class faculty amazed me with their accomplishments. Three members of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences were inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences: Chad Mirkin, who pioneers in nanotechnology and is among the most influential chemists in the world; Richard Morimoto from the Department of Molecular Biosciences, who studies stress responses in organisms and is a superstar in his field; and Sandra Waxman from my home department, psychology, who researches conceptual and language development and whose work is reshaping how the fundamentals of child development are viewed.
Several other award-winners in Weinberg included: Tobin Marks in chemistry, who was awarded the 2011 Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences and was inducted into the Indian Academy of Sciences; my colleagues in psychology, Dedre Gentner and, again, Sandra Waxman, named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Karen Alter in political science and Eula Biss in English, who received Guggenheim fellowships; Clare Cavanaugh from the Department of Slavic Languages and Literature, who was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism for her book, Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics: Russia, Poland, and The West; and physicist Adilson Motter and psychologist Steven Franconeri, who just received NSF CAREER awards.
Every day, I receive an email from University Relations with a listing of news about Northwestern in major national and international publications. Weinberg is always heavily represented. Whether it’s historian Deborah Cohen commenting on the royal wedding in the Huffington Post; Seth Stein from Earth and Planetary Sciences talking with Charlie Rose about Japan’s earthquake; Wendy Pearlman from political science explaining the situation in Libya to the Chicago Tribune; or our chair of history, Peter Hayes, describing to NPR his recent book on the complicity of diplomats during the Holocaust, I am daily made proud of our faculty and of the importance of their work.
As you read this edition of Crosscurrents and the amazing things our faculty, students, and alumni do, I know that you will also continue to be inspired by our Weinberg community. Under the gray skies of winter or the brilliant greens of summer, I know that, like me, you will continue to be proud to wear purple!
Sarah C. Mangelsdorf