Think that Morty is working too hard, worrying about the future of Williams during the worst financial crisis in a generation, not even considering his future at Northwestern? Think again.

A former foe will accelerate his assimilation as a newfound friend of Northwestern football and other athletics when NU’s incoming president-designate arrives in San Antonio this weekend for the Alamo Bowl.

Morton Schapiro, the president of keenly progressive Williams College in northwestern Massachusetts, confirmed Tuesday he’ll be the guest of retiring NU president Henry Bienen when the No. 22 Wildcats (9-3) face No. 25 Missouri (9-4) on Monday night at the Alamodome (ESPN, 7 p.m.).

Late last month, the NU board of trustees announced that Schapiro, 55, will succeed Bienen in September. Ironically, when the Cats lost the 1996 Rose Bowl 42-31 to USC, Schapiro was a vice president and dean of USC’s College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

”I was actually in the locker room and on the sideline for part of that game,” said Schapiro, a noted economist and administrator who left USC to be president at Williams in 2000. ”I remember coming out of the tunnel with the (USC) team and seeing all the purple and thinking, ‘Oh, my God, this is like an away game.’ We were 10 miles from the USC campus and 60,000 in the Rose Bowl were Northwestern fans.”

During Schapiro’s time in Williamstown, the Division III ”Ephs” – pronounced with a long ”e” in honor of college patriarch Ephraim Williams – won 13 NCAA titles in six sports, and three students were named Rhodes Scholars.

Said Dick Quinn, the school’s director of sports information: ”Morty is a great sports fan. I doubt there is another Big Ten president who has caught a field goal at a game. Get ready for him because he walks the sidelines at all home football games. The man is a great sports fan and his ability to remember students and athletes is amazing.”

While Schapiro has yet to formally meet Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald, they’ve exchanged e-mails and he expects to be introduced to Fitzgerald this weekend in San Antonio. He also has begun to study other Northwestern teams.

”I was very frustrated the other night because I had to follow the Northwestern-Stanford (men’s basketball) game on the Internet,” the Hofstra alumnus (Class of ’75) said. ”Despite having a (satellite) dish, I couldn’t find it anywhere. Nonetheless, I look forward to watching many, many games and many other student activities in the years ahead.”

Although we all wish Morty nothing but the best at Northwestern, I can’t help but worry that, during the inter-presidentum, no one is cutting the costs that need to be cut.

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