Dean David Figlio and Coach Pat Fitzgerald

Message From The Dean

Dear Friends,

At SESP, we emphasize that teamwork and collaboration are vital to great leadership in every domain. So I’m never surprised—but always delighted—that many Northwestern athletes gravitate to SESP, where they learn how to apply lessons from the playing field to change lives and organizations for the better.

You don’t need a PhD to appreciate why our learning and organizational change concentration—centered around people and their roles within families, teams, nonprofits, corporations, and other organizations—would be especially attractive to students who spend many hours a week working in teams.

And our student-athletes help their classmates better understand learning in organizations, because the lessons from sports successes and failures are highly transferable. All SESP students are so connected in their learning and mutual sharing that once our student-athletes take their skills into the world, they often return to campus to share their experiences and wisdom with current students.

At a Reunion Weekend luncheon each year, SESP alumni volunteer to meet and mentor current undergraduates. Last fall’s participants included several former Wildcat athletes: Doreen Maxcy (BS68) from Northwestern’s first women’s golf team; former ’Cats point guard Vernon Ford (BS68); and football program greats Stanley Davenport (BS88), D’Wayne Bates (BS98), Gerald Conoway (BS99), and Vince Cartaya (BS03)—just to name a few. They shared what they’ve learned about 21st-century literacies such as change management and team dynamics—and how to prepare for success wherever you land, be it in the classroom, boardroom, or courtroom or on the playing field.

We work in teams. We work in families. We work on committees. Everywhere we go, we are destined to work with other people. Making these interactions as successful as possible is part of the essence of SESP.

This issue highlights some of the people—from head football coach Pat Fitzgerald (BS97) and Union College president David Harris (BS91) to startup founders, social justice entrepreneurs, and first-generation college students—who came to SESP to learn not only how to succeed but also how to lead, at Northwestern and in life.

We’d love to hear how you’re using your leadership skills to make lives better. Please email us at sespalums or use the #SESPLove hashtag on Twitter.

David Figlio
Orrington Lunt Professor and Dean