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Pulitzer Series brings big names to NLU

This year NLU has presented a strong lineup of programs to support our intellectual community.

In the fall we brought you TEDx, a series of independent TED talks exploring teacher voice.  We also hosted Startup Weekend, where an NLU alum and Dean Chris Cassirer were part of winning entrepreneurial ventures. Twice a year we partner with the Golden Apple Foundation and Chicago Shakespeare Theater to host a series of symposia on the changing landscape of the education system.

The jewel of NLU’s intellectual crown is the Pulitzer Series. Every year, Dr. Joanne Koch, Director of NLU’s Master of Science in Written Communications program, arranges for a Pulitzer Prize winning author to visit campus and share his or her experiences. Our community benefits when nationally known authors who have been awarded American literature and journalism’s most coveted honor visit campus. What a privilege it has been to welcome such renowned talents as Garry Wills, Mary Schmich and Ira Berkow.

In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Berkow was awarded the distinction of “Best Sportswriter in New York” by New York Magazine.  A prolific author and sports journalist for The New York Times since 1981, Berkow recently addressed a packed house , which included fellow journalists and former athletes from Northwestern University among the audience. The author commented largely about his recent book, “Wrigley Field: an Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs,” and spoke at length about his background growing up in Chicago on Maxwell Street. (The audience got into the baseball spirit even more by feasting on ballpark fare such as hot dogs and beer.)

He admitted to the crowd that he wasn’t the most motivated student, but he was gifted with writing ability and moxie. Berkow told stories of how he was mentored by other writers and of his brushes with President Obama, a White Sox fan. He also commented on developments in sports today, such as the issue of whether student athletes are employees of the university they represent, which is playing at out Northwestern.

The high point of the evening was the inspiration he offered to students in the audience, working adults seeking a degree to change the path of their career or restart after “life happened.” Berkow told of his own story of perseverance and strength, coming from a background lacking privilege, then later when he faced criticism of his work. Berkow fielded so many questions from the audience, and he lingered and socialized afterward with people who stayed, taking pictures, signing autographs.

Thank you to Dr. Joanne Koch for connecting the NLU community to this wonderful, accessible author.  And thank you to Ira Berkow for being one of the bright spots in our academic year!