“Communication” and “engagement” were tossed around to describe what students expect from Northwestern’s next president. The ten members of the Presidential Search Committee held several open forums on the Evanston and Chicago campuses Thursday for faculty, staff and students to share their thoughts.
“I want to tell you how much we appreciate your input, and it really is very helpful to us,” Committee Chair William Osborn told about 30 students who attended the meeting in Norris University Center. “You’re our constituency.”
Most students who spoke out during the forum were members of student activist groups. The Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED), Northwestern Darfur Action Coalition, GlobeMed and Global Engagement Summit asked for a president willing to make Northwestern “the best university for the world,” as committee member and Feinberg professor Laurie Zoloth put it.
Here’s what Global Engagement Summit member and Wienberg senior Ryan Pederson said a president should do to unify the university:
The idea of a center for civic engagement to unite student groups across campus was particularly popular among the audience. Students cited other universities, such as Stanford and Brown, as good examples of what they are looking for.
“Northwestern shouldn’t be just an amazing place of education, or that trains leaders, but that really trains and engages citizens,” a girl in the audience said.
Academic Vice President Mike McGee said the president should have “that forward-looking vision” and put its relationship with students before anything else: