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Northwestern University

From the Dean: Helping All Students to Succeed


I vividly recall how, when I entered college, I was mystified by all manner of rituals, behaviors, and spaces. At the time, I envied others who seemed to belong without making any apparent effort to try.

I think it is wonderful, therefore, that each incoming Northwestern class gets to “March Through the Arch” during orientation and participate in a ritual that physically and symbolically welcomes them to campus.

This is important, but we can and must do more to help all students succeed. Some students — those who attended high schools with few or no Advanced Placement classes, for example, or who are among the first in their family to attend college — may struggle in particular to identify sources of support.

One important way we help empower students to chart their academic paths is through our Arch Scholars program. This program comprises a set of interlocking academic experiences for students who possess great talent, but who for one reason or another did not have access to a rich set of academic resources in high school. This issue of Weinberg will introduce you to some of the extraordinary students, instructors, and administrators who have made this program so successful.

The meritocratic impulse that fuels our Arch Scholars program also energizes our research agenda. As you’ll read in this issue as well, our social scientists are looking to big data to analyze social inequality and to produce policy recommendations to redress problems revealed by their research.

In a media environment marked by suspicion toward truth and logic, we encourage the use of data in ways that harmonize with our commitment to critical thinking, self-questioning inquiry, intellectual humility, and the open exchange of ideas. We seek, in other words, to model an ethical use of information to sustain reasonable arguments and, therefore, tackle a range of seemingly intractable problems.

I hope that through our diverse and wide-ranging research, a sampling of which you will encounter in this magazine, we can model excellence when it comes to careful observation, multifaceted critique, nuanced reflection, and cogent expression. These are goals that lie at the very heart of the College’s mission.

Adrian Randolph signature

Adrian Randolph
Dean, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

(Photos: Kyle Monk)

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