In a few weeks, the white house overlooking Route 2 will be empty, and President Schapiro will be on his way from the purple bubble to the slightly more cosmopolitan suburbs of Northwestern University. In the past nine years of Morty’s presidential term, both the campus and the wider world have changed immeasurably, and Morty has guided us throughout, urging us to climb higher and aim farther. While most of these changes have been the product of close collaborations between different campus constituencies, it is undeniable that Morty’s influence has permeated all aspects of the campus.
Morty leaves the College after 20 years of service, having served as both professor of economics and administrator. He has become a trusted member of the community, a formidable academic and pedagogue, a respected leader in all regards and a good friend to many on campus. Through Morty’s efforts, our application rates have swelled and diversity has increased. Tutorials, one of the hallmarks of the Williams education, have risen from 20 yearly at the beginning of Morty’s tenure to almost 70 each year. Life for students and faculty alike has become even more convenient, comfortable and vibrant with the addition of new and monumental buildings, from the Paresky Center to the North Academic Building and Schapiro Hall. Morty’s legacy will linger not only in the hearts and minds of the College community but also on the physical, social and academic landscape.
In this recession year, all eyes are on the economy, and without doubt Morty’s fundraising skills and financial acuity have been phenomenal. Morty is known to be in his element chatting up alumni and mingling with parents, and the five-year Williams Campaign that ended last December reflected his dedicated schmoozing, exceeding its original goal of $400 million to a grand total of more than $500 million. Such funds have allowed the College to pursue ever more ambitious projects, building on the College’s infrastructure and drawing promising students with greater financial aid packages. Moreover, Morty’s commitment to preparing soft budget plans for the College for the next few years is a testament to both his responsibility and expertise.
Even as we laud Morty’s many achievements, we must acknowledge that he has navigated troubled waters and has, at times, made unpopular decisions – including, most notably, the implementation of neighborhood housing system. Morty has positioned himself as the president of the people and, given his packed schedule, he has at times forgivably fallen short of this very high standard. While we should not be uncritical, even those of us who have not enjoyed Morty’s genial conversation or who do not enjoy cluster housing should affirm that his few shortcomings are far outpaced by his staggering list of accomplishments and the tremendous goodwill he has accumulated on campus.
Whether inviting students to dinner or mingling at entry snacks, Morty has become a beloved campus figure, purple sweaters and all. Students will recall his presence in tutorials, sports games and social gatherings for years to come. Thank you, Morty, and best of luck at Northwestern. We will miss you.