With the 2022-23 academic year now officially underway, I could not be more excited for what lies ahead for our student-athletes and the greater Northwestern community. Before looking ahead to all the incredible goals we have for this year, I want to take a moment to celebrate a BIG win from this past year.
It is with great pride that I share with you that during 2021-22, we came together to raise $8.8 million dollars in support of our student-athletes—the most ever raised for the Wildcat Fund in one year! This is an incredible achievement and speaks to the commitment of Wildcats far and wide. It is so impactful to have more than 5,000 alumni, parents and fans contribute directly to the student-athlete experience, ensuring that they have the resources necessary to strive for excellence in all areas. It is no coincidence that as we have continued to see an increase in support, many of our athletic programs are enjoying historic success.
To everyone who has contributed to the Wildcat Fund - THANK YOU! I trust we can count on your loyalty and support in the future.
As we pivot to the current year, I want to thank everyone who made our trip to Dublin, Ireland, such an incredible experience. The trip was the perfect encapsulation of everything that we strive to do at Northwestern. The opportunity to take our football student-athletes to Europe and compete in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic allowed us to offer a unique experience for our team that they will never forget. While planning for the trip, we learned that more than half of our football student-athletes had never possessed a passport, and several were stepping onto an airplane for the very first time. Between the team bonding and cultural experiences in Ireland, the spirited support from everyone that made the trip, and, of course, starting the season off with a win over a Big Ten West foe, I am overjoyed at how it all came together.
As we collectively celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX this year, I continue to be blown away by the success of our women's programs. Through the first month of competition, our reigning NCAA Champion field hockey team is 8-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country; women's soccer is 8-1-1 with a best-in-program-history No. 9 national ranking and a huge win over #6 Stanford; volleyball is off to an 11-1 start including an impressive win over #24 Pepperdine; and cross country is off to one of its best starts ever and is ranked among the best in the Midwest. This success is a testament to the hard work of our student-athletes, unbridled commitment from our coaches and staff, and the ever-important support of our Wildcats community. Please join me in celebrating these fantastic results!
Finally, in the weeks ahead, I look forward to sharing with all of you R.I.S.E. Northwestern, A Strategic Plan for Excellence. Over the last seven months, our executive team and a Strategic Planning Committee comprised of members from across the University community, have been working diligently to map out our blueprint for continued success and how to elevate the standard of excellence across the department. Soon, you will also receive information about how the Wildcat Fund plans to further engage our community and offer new ways for our donors and fans to be involved in our success. Thank you again for your continued support… Go 'Cats!
Dr. Derrick Gragg Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Northwestern University