Inquiry Magazine Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy

Spring 2017

In this issue: Embracing Transition


Dean Penelope Petersen
Penelope Peterson

Message from the Dean

Dear Friends,

As I sit down to write this—my final Dean’s Message—I feel proud, nostalgic, and excited all at the same time. Proud because we have achieved a lot as the SESP community over the last 20 years. We have increased under- graduate enrollment by more than 33 percent, and SESP undergraduates consistently express great satisfaction with their experience in our School. We have increased the quality of our faculty such that nearly half of our full professors have been elected to the National Academy of Education—the most prestigious institution for educational researchers in the world. We have increased our School’s endowment from $900,000 to more than $46 million. And we have increased the number of all of you who read this magazine, with nearly 4,500 new alumni joining us since I began as Dean 20 years ago. Moreover, with our support, three entrepreneurial SESP undergraduates opened the first student-run coffee shop at Northwestern in our building this winter. As a coffee aficionado myself, I’ll drink to this!

Yet I am also nostalgic. Defined as “a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time,” nostalgia often sweeps over us in times of transition. This is surely a time of transition for me and for our School. And in this issue of Inquiry, we explore the theory, research, and practice of transitions with a goal of embracing change. And finally, I am excited because after I step down as Dean on Aug. 31, I will move to Seattle where my two grandsons live with their mother and father—my second son, who graduated from Northwestern. I hope to spend lots of time with them. I also plan to write a young adult novel with my daughter who is the Poet Laureate of San Miguel County in Colorado. You can expect the adventurous heroine of our story to be feisty, athletic, and fearless, but also to come out with some eloquent and pointed bursts of spoken word poetry that devastate her enemies! Lastly, as a member of the “Great Old Broads for Wilderness,” I plan to do a lot of hiking and campaigning to preserve our environment, national parks, and the wilderness that restores our spirits and reminds us that we are part of the circle of life. If you travel to Seattle and want to look me up, you will find me living in Madrona, walking the shores of Lake Washington in the mornings, writing my novel in the afternoons, and reading to Benji and Augie in the evenings. Until then, I wish all of you the very best as you embrace your own transitions!

Sincerely yours,

Penelope Signature
Penelope L. Peterson, Dean