Dean Figlio: ‘This is going to be quite the year for you’

Dean Figlio: ‘This is going to be quite the year for you’

David FiglioWith a nod to the smash hit musical Hamilton, Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy Dean David Figlio encouraged incoming freshmen and transfer students to take risks, step outside their comfort zone, and “take their shot” during Wildcat Welcome, a weeklong flurry of orientation activities.

“You’re joining a family of thinkers and doers,” Figlio said, addressing the new SESP students in Annenberg Hall. “SESP is a school for people who want to make lives better, and you have a remarkable opportunity to chart your own Northwestern direction. This is the time to make the most of that chance.”

In his inaugural dean’s address, Figlio branched out of his own comfort zone – and likely became the first singing dean in SESP history – by rapping a few lines of songs adapted from Hamilton, including “The Room Where It Happens” and “My Shot.”

Read his adapted lyrics here.

All first-year Northwestern students will be given the opportunity to receive a free ticket to Hamilton as part of the University’s One Book One Northwestern program. Every incoming SESP student, meanwhile, will be invited to dinner at Figlio’s home before Thanksgiving.

“I loved Dean Figlio’s energy,” said freshman Faith Irvine of Lincoln, Nebraska, who arrived at campus two weeks early for the intense SESP Leadership Institute and already has one credit under her belt. “SESP has a balance of fun and energy plus academic rigor. It’s a good blend.”

The Class of ’21 -- which typically triples in size from first year to senior year as people learn about SESP’s programs and its unparalleled advising system -- includes 52 incoming freshmen and six transfer students from around the world, ranging from Evanston to Nepal.

During orientation, the students toured Annenberg Hall, the lakefront, campus, downtown Evanston, Chicago and more. They also met the school’s five academic advisors, peer advisors and learned more about the programs.

The five SESP undergraduate majors – called concentrations -- include human development and psychological services, learning and organization change, learning sciences, secondary teaching and social policy. 

The School also offers master’s degrees in education (teaching), learning sciences, learning and organizational change and higher education administration and policy. Doctoral programs include learning sciences, human development and social policy and a new joint computer sciences/learning sciences program.

In his welcoming remarks, Figlio cautioned undergraduates about the fast and furious quarter system which can feel overwhelming but also said it presents more chances to try new things.

“This is going to be quite the year for you,” Figlio said. “You’re going to make friendships that last a lifetime. You’re going to take some amazing classes, here in SESP and around the university, and you’re going to learn a lot about the world and how it works. You’re going to make plenty of mistakes – we all do—and you’re going to learn a lot about yourself along the way.”

At the new student kickoff dinner on the east lawn of Annenberg, several faculty members mingled with students, including Jeannette Colyvas, director of undergraduate education; Ofer Malamud, associate professor of human development and social policy; Mindy Douthit, instructor and lecturer; Lilah Shapiro, assistant professor of instruction; Regina Logan, research assistant professor and director of the Foley Longitudinal Study of Adulthood; and Scott Ogawa, assistant professor of instruction.

“We all have your back,” Figlio told the new students. “At SESP we embrace the fact that we are always learning and growing, and that every member of our family has a lot to teach one another – all of us. It’s time to take your shot.” 

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 9/13/17