Message from President Schapiro and Provost Holloway to the Northwestern Community

Find enclosed a message from President Morty Schapiro and Provost Johnathan Holloway to the Northwestern community. We thank both of them, along with others within our NU community for bringing Commemoration Week to fruition.


Dear members of the Northwestern campus community,

We invite you to join us in the coming days as we commemorate an important milestone in Northwestern’s history, the 50th anniversary of the Bursar’s Office Takeover.

During 1968, a year marked by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as demonstrations and student activism at campuses across the nation, Northwestern experienced its first major student sit-in. For 38 hours – from May 3 to May 4 – African American students occupied Northwestern’s business office at 619 Clark Street to demand changes that would move Northwestern toward equality for all students around the University’s recruiting, admissions, student residence policies and academic offerings. After a peaceful resolution that established a starting point on those and other matters, Northwestern made progress on many of the demands. To learn more about this event in Northwestern’s history, please visit the University Archives site.

The national events of 1968 marked a pivotal time in U.S. history. Activism throughout the country created a path for communities to begin an important dialogue about equality for all people. This week’s milestone marks a time in which African American students lifted their voices to build a better path for our institution. It also marks a time at Northwestern in which the University fell short of living up to our values. As we view the path ahead, it is important for us as individuals and as an institution to re-commit ourselves to doing so.

At Northwestern, we continue to work diligently every day to ensure that our campus remains a place of inclusion and equality, one that reflects the world and in which every student, faculty and staff member feels welcomed whole-heartedly and without reservation. A diverse student body enriches the community and ultimately results in more thoughtful leaders and a better world. We have made meaningful progress since the 1968 sit-in, and we recognize that we still have work to do. We welcome members of our campus community to participate in this important journey.

To honor this significant event in Northwestern’s history, University faculty, staff, students and alumni, with leadership from the Northwestern University Black Alumni Association (NUBAA), have coordinated a number of commemorative events throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, culminating in a series of programs this week that include a panel discussion with alumni who led the Takeover, the unveiling of a commemorative memorial, a musical tribute from alumni and first-hand accounts from alumni and campus leaders. For more information on these events, please go here.

As we reflect on the 1968 sit-in events at Northwestern, we are more committed than ever to providing a dynamic and inclusive educational experience. By embracing backgrounds and viewpoints different from our own, we can challenge our assumptions, test our ideas and broaden our understanding of the world.

It is only by understanding our history that we can map out a better course for our future as individuals, as an institution and as a society.


Morton Schapiro
President and Professor

Jonathan Holloway
Provost and Professor

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