Dean David Figlio

Message From The Dean

Dear Friends,

In 1869, Northwestern controversially opened its doors to women students, the pathbreakers for alumnae like Alice Gabrielle Twight and Lorraine H. Morton.

Twight, the first woman to earn a Northwestern doctorate, in 1898, became a renowned teacher. Morton (MS42, H08), Evanston’s first African American mayor, led the transformation of Evanston schools and the city itself through her work in education and public service.

As Northwestern marks 150 years of coeducation during 2019–20, the legacies of Twight, Morton, and other remarkable women live on at the School of Education and Social Policy through named professorships. The University’s most prestigious recognition for faculty, named professorships provide faculty with additional funds and resources to pursue their best ideas while continuing to mentor generations of SESP students.

With University support, SESP recently established several new named professorships and continued others. Among the faculty receiving these honors are Uri Wilensky, North­western’s first Lorraine H. Morton Professor of Learning Sciences and Computer Sciences. Like Morton, Uri is a pioneer in his field and a major innovator in education.

Miriam Sherin, associate provost for undergraduate education, has been named the Alice Gabrielle Twight Professor of Learning Sciences, the second woman to hold a Twight Professor­ship since its creation in 2008. I can imagine Twight would have been thrilled to meet a passionate teacher like Miriam, mystified by her use of video, and awed by her research and teacher-training expertise.

And Emma Adam, a driving force behind SESP’s new initiative on culture, brain, biology, and learning, and whose groundbreaking work is highlighted in this issue, is the Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Human Development and Social Policy. This professorship, held by learning sciences and African American studies professor Carol Lee until her retirement last June, honors the legacy of late philanthropist Edwina S. Tarry, who received a master’s in education from SESP in 1938.

Including Uri, Miriam, and Emma, SESP can now boast a total of 11 current faculty members with named professorships. That’s 52 percent of our full professors. (The complete list is on page 4.) What these faculty members have in common is their global recognition as intellectual adventurers and change agents who challenge the status quo to improve human lives.

Who are the women, womxn, gender-­diverse individuals, and allies in your lives who led or are leading the struggle to open doors, creating greater access and opportunity for all?

You can find such people at SESP, where we help Northwestern make the world a better place—one individual, one organization, one community, and one system at a time.

To join the conversation, write an Instagram or Twitter post, take a selfie, or upload a photo and tag it #WomxnAtNU. And, as always, please let us know how you’re changing the world for the better.