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Professional Advancement Network puts faculty at the forefront

The Professional Advancement Network provides a way for faculty to capitalize on a platform that will ‘showcase their work in a way that’s it’s never been showcased before.’ Photo via iStock

The recently launched Professional Advancement Network has been described as providing myriad opportunities for professional learners. It also, however, opens up new opportunities for faculty in Boston, at the university’s regional campuses, and abroad.

The Professional Advancement Network is a platform across all colleges that offers advanced degree programs, certificates, boot camps, and experiential opportunities tailored to the needs of adult and continuing learners, and to the demands of employers.

We spoke with Mary Loeffelholz, interim dean of the College of Professional Studies, about ways faculty in the Professional Advancement Network can benefit:

Empowers faculty innovation

One of the biggest benefits for faculty under the Professional Advancement Network umbrella is the emphasis on their own professional and scholar-practitioner work and experiences.

The network will serve as an “innovation engine” for the university and one important element in making that happen is harnessing the work and experiences that faculty bring to the table, and capitalizing on that, said Loeffelholz.

The Professional Advancement Network will create new models that give educators more flexibility to design and facilitate learning in novel ways through interdisciplinary curriculum development driven by faculty and industry insight and supported by the network’s analytics capabilities.

“And we’re going to be showcasing faculty work in a way that it’s never been showcased before,” said Loeffelholz.

In addition, the Professional Advancement Network will serve to amplify across the university the work faculty members are already doing, in part by developing a research center that focuses on the intersection of education and industry. This center will put faculty in touch with industry and research partners in the United States and abroad.

Deepens connection between faculty and students

The connection between students and faculty with “deep professional expertise and networks” in their fields is crucial to the Professional Advancement Network and the professional adult learner, Loeffelholz said.

“The Professional Advancement Network is on the cutting edge of developing supports, programs, and technologies to support lifelong learning. We’ll learn more about our students and be able to capture a better understanding of their aspirations before they even enter our doors, and we’ll be able to retain them when students exit and come back again,” she said.

“The meeting of faculty and learners is at the forefront of this network,” Loeffelholz added.

Broadens faculty networks nationally and internationally

Loeffelholz said the Professional Advancement Network should be the web within which faculty members are more deeply connected to industry and research partners at the university’s regional campuses as well as abroad. “We’ll be able to deepen connections across the U.S. that we wouldn’t have made otherwise,” she said.

Similarly, faculty will be able to expand their networks to include peers in those regional campuses—creating what Loeffelholz called a “cross-college community of faculty” laser-focused on innovation.

“You can already see this community forming,” she said.

Aligns with Northeastern 2025

The Professional Advancement Network bolsters the university’s work in the field of professional, lifelong education in a significant way, aligning it with Northeastern 2025, the university’s new academic plan. It serves to express one of Northeastern’s key missions for the next decade, elevating the work faculty do in that vein.

“The network is pioneering professional education to align with the needs of the industry, employers, and learners, and central to making that happen are our faculty,” said Loeffelholz. “There is tremendous opportunity available to faculty in this network, and it’s an exciting time for all of us as we forge ahead with new learners, new programs, and new locations.”