Northwestern’s president to step down next year

The announcement comes just months after Morton Schapiro faced calls for his resignation after he criticized student protesters demanding the disbandment of the university’s police force.

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Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro. | Submitted photo

Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro

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Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro announced Thursday that he plans to step down next year from the elite private school in affluent Evanston.

The announcement comes just months after Schapiro faced condemnation and calls for his resignation after he criticized student protesters following demonstrations demanding the disbandment of the university’s police force.

In a statement Thursday, Schapiro touted his successes during “13 gratifying years” as Northwestern’s leader, noting that the school now ranks “among the top 10 universities in the country.” Schapiro announced he plans to step down on Aug. 31, 2022, a date he said was “scheduled long ago” to make way for a “smooth transition.”

“The Board of Trustees will offer more detail in the near future regarding the selection process,” Schapiro said.

During his time at Northwestern, undergraduate applications have doubled while the acceptance rate has dropped from 27% to 7%. Research funding has also skyrocketed and the university’s endowment has more than doubled, from $5.8 billion to $12.2 billion.

“During President Schapiro’s tenure, Northwestern has further established itself as one of the world’s very finest academic institutions,” J. Landis Martin, chairman of Northwestern’s board, said in a statement. “Since he took office, the University has improved by every relevant measure. We will celebrate what we have achieved and continue to achieve under President Schapiro’s leadership.”

Despite the university’s growing stature, Schapiro’s reputation with some students took a hit last fall when calls to abolish Northwestern’s police department roiled the quiet North Shore campus for weeks.

During those demonstrations, Schapiro wrote a letter slamming the protesters and saying the school had “absolutely no intention” of disbanding its police force. In the letter, he also said the demonstrators should be “ashamed” of calling him a term he claimed “comes dangerously close to a longstanding trope against observant Jews like myself.”

That letter led to calls for his resignation, which appeared to spur Schapiro’s announcement that Northwestern was establishing a community safety oversight advisory board while an external review of its private police force was conducted.

“We acknowledge serious and pressing issues in policing across our nation, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our campus police protect every member of the Northwestern community, especially those who are most vulnerable,” Schapiro wrote in late October. “No one should feel threatened or unsafe, and no one should be singled out or treated differently on the basis of race or background.”

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