Morton Schapiro and David Figlio

Transitions: Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro (left) and SESP dean David Figlio are embarking on new adventures.

Message From The Dean

Dear Friends,

I’ve heard from so many of you since it was announced that I would be commencing my new adventure as provost of the University of Rochester. Your notes touched me deeply, especially hearing about how SESP helped shape your lives for the better.

This school—and the incredible SESP family—have had the same effect on me. For one, I am a very different kind of scholar than I was 14 years ago. My research collaborations with colleagues like Emma Adam and Uri Wilensky taught me to think about my own field of economics in a new light, and I’ve learned to apply lessons from a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, thanks to other remarkable colleagues and students. 

SESP faculty, staff, and students— starting with my SESP leadership partner Coleen Coleman, winner of last year’s Jean Shedd Award for University Citizenship—have taught me a tremendous amount about how to change organizations for the better.

I am in awe of SESP’s extraordinary teachers and mentors like Shirin Vossoughi, Jim Spillane, Lilah Shapiro, David Rapp, Cynthia Coburn, Mesmin Destin, and Danny M. Cohen, who helped shape my view about empowering students, inside and outside of classrooms. I am confident that I am a more competent, just, and kind leader because of their example and  that  of other members of the SESP family.

At Rochester I intend to apply, at a university-wide scale, the lessons I’ve learned here. Together, we at SESP have proven that there is no tradeoff between doing good in our communities and doing excellent scholarly and educational work. The SESP family inspires me daily through mutualistic partnerships that make our communities better and our work more successful. The University of Rochester is an enormously important member of its local community, and I am excited to infuse that relationship with a SESP mindset.

We have also proven the importance of hiring accomplished faculty members who reflect the diversity of our students and our world. Of course, SESP still has work to do! But the school should be an example that other schools and universities aspire to—and it will definitely be a role model for continued progress at the University of Rochester.

President Morty Schapiro—my mentor, friend, and collaborator—has taught me much about how to be a scholar and leader. Congratulations to him as he, too, embarks upon a new chapter. And I’m thrilled to be reuniting with another Northwestern role model and mentor, Rochester president Sarah Mangelsdorf, whom I first met when she was dean of Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Until we meet again—in Chicagoland, or Rochester, or your hometown.


With SESP Love,

David Figlio

Orrington Lunt Professor and Dean