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Morton Owen Schapiro, president of Williams College, professor of economics and one of the country’s leading experts in the economics of higher education, has been named president of Northwestern University, Patrick G. Ryan, chairman of Northwestern’s board of trustees, announced Dec. 16.

Prof. Schapiro, 55, will become Northwestern’s 16th president, effective Sept. 1, 2009, succeeding Henry S. Bienen, who will step down after 14 years.

Prof. Schapiro has been president of Williams College since 2000. For six years prior to that, he was the Dean of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California, where he was professor and chair of the economics department. He was professor of economics and assistant provost at Williams from 1980-1991. He has a strong commitment to undergraduate education and has continued to teach while president.

Among the initiatives implemented during his presidency at Williams have been a substantial reduction in average class size, a tripling of the number of courses offered in the college’s signature tutorial program and the completion of a number of major building projects including a center for theater and dance, a student center and new faculty office/classroom buildings.

He is among the nation’s premier authorities on the economics of higher education, with particular expertise in the area of college financing and affordability, and on trends in educational costs and student aid. He has testified before U.S. Senate and House committees on economic and educational issues and is often quoted in the national media.