Category Archives: Alumni

Cool ‘Cats: Ed Tunnicliff (Communication ’50)

Ed TunnicliffStanding on the sidewalk outside of Ryan Field in a purple Northwestern jacket, 87-year-old Ed Tunnicliff (Communication ’50) looked like an average longtime Wildcat football fan. But Tunnicliff has an indelible place in Northwestern sports history, having scored the winning touchdown in the football team’s 1949 Rose Bowl victory.

The former Wildcat halfback returned to campus Friday to contribute his Rose Bowl game jersey to University Archives. He also took the opportunity to tour the football program’s current facilities, meet with head coach Pat Fitzgerald, revisit the 1949 Rose Bowl trophy and share his memories of an unforgettable era in Northwestern football.

“If you look back through Northwestern’s history, when they had good teams, it was because they had depth,” he said. “When I was there, we had all the veterans coming back from four years of war and then all of the freshmen coming in as well, so we had all kinds of depth, and it made a difference.”

That depth led to the team’s first and only Rose Bowl victory — an accomplishment that is still heralded by the Northwestern community today. After talking to University archivist Kevin Leonard, Tunnicliff decided to donate one of his most cherished Rose Bowl relics — the number 15 jersey he wore during the game — to the university’s collection of historic memorabilia.

Tunnicliff retired from the life insurance business 28 years ago and now spends most of his time fishing in Mountain Home, Ark. He didn’t want to make any predictions about future Rose Bowl appearances, but he has avidly followed the good fortunes of the current Wildcat squad and is hopeful about their future success.

“They’re tremendous,” he said. “I’m just keeping my fingers crossed, especially for next Saturday [Oct. 5] against Ohio State.”

After meeting with Coach Fitzgerald, Tunnicliff summed up what makes Northwestern’s football program special — both in his day and today.

“The main thing here at Northwestern is academics, as well it should be, and you were expected to do the same thing that any other student did,” he said. “That whole attitude about education being most important just permeates everything and you just feel confident.”

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Top 10 Northwestern Athletes of All Time

NU's Greatest Athletes

Many incredible athletes have donned purple and white to compete for Northwestern University. But who are the greatest Wildcat athletes of all time? Northwestern magazine has the answer.

Athletes were judged — in collaboration with Northwestern Athletics — on the scale of their individual athletic accomplishments and honors while competing for the Wildcats. Northwestern magazine also solicited fan and alumni opinions through their website, where the University’s 50 greatest athletes were featured in an interactive photo slideshow. These votes were taken into account in addition to athletic accomplishments to determine the top 10, along with two “Fan Favorite” selections.

What do you think of the list?

Wildcats Are King of ‘The Jungle Book’

In this summer’s new staging of “The Jungle Book” at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, the wildcat is the true king of the jungle.

Northwestern University is well-represented in every aspect of the show’s production. The show was adapted and directed by performance studies professor Mary Zimmerman, who sought to blend the spirit of Rudyard Kipling’s original “Jungle Book” stories with Walt Disney’s animated movie version to create an energetic new interpretation for the stage.

Fellow wildcats joining Zimmerman’s production include music director Doug Peck (Weinberg ’03), actors Anjali Bhimani (Communication ’96) and Govind Kumar (Communication ’08), costume designer Mara Blumenfeld (Communication ’92) and set designer Daniel Ostling (Communication ’96). FULL STORY

Cool ‘Cats: Jena Friedman (Weinberg ’05)

Jena FriedmanNorthwestern alumna Jena Friedman ended up “going native” — in anthropological terms joining the group you are studying — while writing her senior thesis on comedy.

Today the cultural anthropology major produces for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” the iconic comedy show that broke the mold with the hilarious fake newscasts that millions turn to nightly.

Friedman was observing classes at Chicago’s legendary ImprovOlympic comedy club for her senior thesis on the role of gender, race and class in the world of comedy when she decided to go native.

“I wasn’t a theater major,” Friedman said. “That paper is what got me into comedy. I started doing improv and then a year or two later I started doing stand-up.”

After graduation, Friedman got serious about comedy. She moved to New York and eventually landed a coveted writing job for “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

For the last eight months, she has worked for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” serving as a field producer for the show’s zany assortment of fake news correspondents.

“It’s the first job that combines what I liked most about anthropology with comedy — it’s funny and has a political point of view,” she said.

Friedman, a 2005 graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, attributes her unexpected career and success to Northwestern.

“It’s weird, but 100 percent of where I am now is because of that anthropology program at Northwestern,”  she said.

Friedman recently discussed her Northwestern roots and how they led her to success in the comedy business.

How did you transition from majoring in anthropology to writing for “The Late Show” and producing for “The Daily Show?”

After graduation, I continued performing improvisation in Chicago.  Chicago is a great city if you want to study comedy because the community is really supportive and there’s so much access to stage time there. Also, in Chicago, there’s very little industry so you can experiment and play, and if you’re terrible — which most comics are at the start — no one will see you fail. I started performing stand-up because I was working as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and traveling all the time. Stand-up just felt more portable and travel-friendly than improv. Also, I got cut from my house team at ImprovOlympic for missing too many rehearsals.

After a few years in Chicago, I moved to New York. A play that I had written that was a parody of American Girl Dolls was featured in the New York Fringe Festival, and I felt like it was a good time to make the leap.  After a year of performing stand-up in New York, I was connected to a manager who submitted me as a writer for “Late Show with David Letterman.” Eleven months after that, right as I was about to move to LA to attend UCLA film school, I was hired. I worked at Letterman for a year and when the field producer position at “The Daily Show” opened up, I applied for it and have been at the show for about eight months. It’s not as easy as I’m making it sound. I broke some teeth along the way.

What was your “Late Show” experience like?

I had a great experience at Late Show. It was challenging writing for a show that has existed for 30 years. Sometimes I would pitch something and the writers would say, “That’s funny, but we did that in ’96.” But that’s also what made it such a great learning experience: working within the parameters of network TV, writing for a host who has such a specific sense of humor and trying to come up with new ideas for a show that has such an incredible history.

What are your duties for “The Daily Show?” How do you decide which stories to produce?

It’s a field producer role similar to any traditional news show with a field team that will go out and report on a story, but we just do it with “The Daily Show” point of view. We pitch all types of stories. Jon encourages us to pursue stories that we’re passionate about and then after we come up with a take on the story, we’ll meet with him to decide which stories to produce. The environment at “The Daily Show” is very collaborative and democratic. Jon is really involved in the day-to-day and people are excited to be there, and I think that’s part of what accounts for the show’s continued success.

How has your Northwestern education influenced your comedy career?

Working on my senior anthropology thesis is what led me to comedy. It seems like now there’s such an emphasis on majoring in business or engineering — degrees that some might say are more “recession-proof.” But my liberal arts education was invaluable and the anthropology curriculum really pushed me to explore what I was passionate about, and what I learned from my professors is still relevant to what I do now as a comedian and field producer. Even as a stand-up, I sometimes feel like an ethnographer, observing people’s behaviors and then commenting on it.

Do you know any Cool ‘Cats? We’re looking for Northwestern University students, alumni, faculty and staff who are having cool experiences or have unique stories to tell. Let us know at

Cool ‘Cats: Jacob Wertz (SESP ’09)

Jacob WertzAfter several years working with charter schools in Chicago, Northwestern University alumnus Jacob Wertz will soon be creating his own.

Wertz recently won the Building Excellent Schools (BES) Fellowship, which will allow him to design, found, lead and sustain a charter school in an underserved area of Los Angeles. A 2009 graduate of the School of Education and Social Policy, Wertz said he had long dreamt of leading a charter school and jumped at the opportunity offered by the BES fellowship.

“When I learned about the amount of training and resources that BES will put into helping me become the kind of leader I want to be, and to help me run the kind of school that I want to run to ensure success for low-income students, I knew I wanted to be a part of it,” he said.

BES is a trailblazing nonprofit that raises the quality of urban charter schools by supporting entrepreneurial individuals in a year-long, comprehensive training program in urban charter school creation and leadership. The fellowship program has established more than 50 schools in 20 cities and 12 states. Fellows receive more than 100 days of training across the country and in Boston, where BES is headquartered.

Wertz’s fellowship year runs from August 2013 to June 2014. While completing his training, Wertz will also craft a charter school proposal outlining his plans for the school, assemble a board of directors and begin fundraising so he can continue the project once the fellowship year is complete.  After his proposal is accepted, Wertz will find a building for the school, finalize the curriculum, hire staff and enroll students. In the third year, the school becomes operational.

“It’s a huge challenge to run a game-changing school in a high poverty area,” Wertz said. ““I am passionately curious about how we can get better, how I can learn and improve my own skills, and how we can solve this problem.”

Wertz said his Northwestern experience was fundamental in preparing him for the challenges he will face during his fellowship year. As an undergrad, he formed the Northwestern Political Union with his friend Sam Kleiner to give students of opposing political outlooks an open forum for discussing policy issues.

“There wasn’t anything on campus where liberals and conservatives were talking, so it was the first time in my life that I felt I had identified a problem — a challenge in a community that I was a part of — and that I could actually be a leader in creating and making a solution to it,” he said. “Northwestern is the kind of place where my passion for learning things, identifying challenges and wanting to solve them really grew.”

Do you know any Cool ‘Cats? We’re looking for Northwestern University students, alumni, faculty and staff who are having cool experiences or have unique stories to tell. Let us know at