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Provost outlines accomplishments at Faculty Senate meeting

Photo by Christopher Huang.

At the first Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year, Provost Stephen Director described Northeastern as a university that has continued to rise as a global research institution, citing the quality and volume of undergraduate and graduate applicants, a twofold increase in research awards over the last five years, and an ongoing push to further grow a diverse, talented faculty.

“We’re in terrific shape as a university and the hard work of the faculty has played a significant role in helping us achieve where we are,” Director said during Wednesday’s Senate meeting.

Director said the record-breaking 43,255 undergraduate applications — the highest number for any private university in the United States — shows that Northeastern is continuing to attract a growing pool of talented students, a fact also true on the graduate level.

The average SAT score for the freshman class rose to 1341 this year, up more than 30 points over last year; the nearly 600 honors students in Northeastern’s freshman class scored, on average, well over 1400.

“These are top-notch students entering our university, and we have to work hard to meet their expectations,” Director said.

The University has lengthened its global reach, Director said, with incoming freshmen hailing from 82 countries and current students studying or working in co-op jobs in 85 countries. Global programs, he said, will continue to grow.

Overall, despite the ongoing economic woes facing the United States, co-op placements increased to nearly 7,000 in the 2010–2011 academic year.

Director also touted the University’s hiring of 60 new full-time faculty members for the current academic year, with 43 entering as tenure-track professors and 17 entering with tenure. Next year, the University is on track to hire up to 70 new members of the faculty, an impressive feat at a time when many universities have significantly slowed or even stopped faculty hiring.

“This is a unique opportunity we have before us,” Director said.

He also listed a series of upcoming initiatives that will require collaboration, including the creation of a new Institutional Master Plan, which will shape the University’s physical campus for decades.

Louis Kruger, the chair of the Senate Agenda Committee and an associate professor of counseling and applied psychology in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences, spoke about the vital importance of shared governance between Northeastern’s faculty and administration.

“If there is one thing we have learned in the last 20 years, it is this: When faculty and administration move in tandem, there is nothing we cannot accomplish,” Kruger said.

“It’s a tremendous institution to be a part of, and a tremendous amount of hard work on the part of everyone has brought the University to where it is,” Director said. “We have an exciting year ahead of us and I look forward to working with all of you.”