Northwestern University names next president

University of Oregon President Michael Schill will replace former president-elect Rebecca Blank, who stepped down after learning of a cancer diagnosis.

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Michael Schill, president of Northwestern University.

Michael Schill, president of the University of Oregon, will take over as the new president of Northwestern University.


Northwestern University has named a new president who says he is committed to bringing people of diverse backgrounds together and has a deep appreciation for Chicago’s theatre and architectural offerings.

Michael Schill, president of the University of Oregon, will become the 17th president of the university beginning this fall, the school said in a statement Thursday.

Northwestern’s primary campus is located in suburban Evanston.

“I am thrilled, honored and humbled to join Northwestern, one of the world’s most prominent universities,” Schill said in a statement. “Northwestern has a long tradition of educating the brightest minds and pushing the boundaries of research and innovation.”

Schill replaces renowned economist Rebecca Blank as president-elect of the university. Blank was selected last year to replace outgoing President Morton Schapiro, and would have been the first woman to serve as Northwestern’s president.

Last month, Blank announced that she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and would have to step down from the role.

Schill has served as president of the University of Oregon since 2015 and holds a tenured faculty appointment at the university’s School of Law.

During his tenure there, Schill helped bolster access to higher education by supporting programs that provided free tuition, fees and advising, Northwestern said. As a result, Schill helped increase graduation rates by 10%.

Northwestern said Schill also emphasized inclusion while at the University of Oregon, hosting events like an African American speakers series and building a new Black Cultural Center on campus.

“I am committed to diversity,” Schill said. “The true potential of a place like Northwestern cannot be fulfilled without bringing people of diverse backgrounds, experiences, abilities and identities together as well as students, staff and faculty members who span the spectrum of ideological and political viewpoints.”

Schill, a first-generation college graduate from Schenectady, N.Y., is no stranger to the Chicago area. In 2010, he joined the University of Chicago as dean and it was during his time there that he “developed a deep love for the Chicago metropolitan area,” Northwestern said.

After leaving Chicago, he continued to travel back to the city monthly, visiting his parents and sister, Northwestern said.

“I love the Steppenwolf Theatre and the Goodman Theatre,” he said. “And there is no city in the nation with architecture as beautiful and awe inspiring as Chicago. It’s a great place to live, work and study.”

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