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Northeastern University moves forward with new graduate campus in Seattle

Innovating at the cross section of academia and industry, Northeastern University is launching a graduate campus in Seattle — the second in a series of graduate campuses that strategically align the university’s educational and research strengths with the needs of regional economies nationwide.

The new Seattle campus, which will offer 16 graduate degree programs beginning in September, follows the launch of Northeastern’s Charlotte, N.C., graduate campus, which opened last fall. The university also announced the appointment of Tayloe Washburn, a well-known business and civic leader in Seattle, to serve as dean and campus executive officer.

The programs offered in Seattle will range from cybersecurity and computer science to health informatics and engineering, all designed to meet the needs of Seattle’s innovative technology sector, anchored by employers such as Microsoft, Amazon.com and Boeing, and fueled by a vibrant startup culture. Despite these industries requiring advanced degrees, only 13 percent of Seattle professionals hold graduate-level degrees.

Northeastern’s presence in the Puget Sound region will also generate innovative research partnerships — a strategic staple of the graduate campus initiative.

“We are living in a period of knowledge explosion, and higher education must do its part to develop the human capital needed to power the industries of today and tomorrow,” said Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun. “Because of our history and our linkages to thousands of employers around the world, Northeastern is ideally suited to take on this challenge.”

Programs offered at Northeastern’s graduate campuses provide students with flexible and specialized graduate degree opportunities. Northeastern’s existing faculty will teach courses both online and on site at the graduate campuses. This hybrid learning approach is ideal for working professionals because it combines the traditional benefits of face-to-face instruction with the flexibility of online learning.

Although undergraduate education is not offered at the graduate campuses, the sites will strengthen Northeastern’s undergraduate program, which is built on placing students in co-op positions with employers. The graduate campuses will deepen relationships with current co-op employers and help to develop relationships with new employers representing Seattle’s booming technology sectors, especially in the technology, life-sciences and health-care areas.

Upon receiving licensure from Washington’s Higher Education Coordinating Board to begin offering degree programs in Seattle, Northeastern appointed Washburn to lead the new graduate campus.

“Northeastern University will be the perfect complement to the Pacific Northwest’s existing higher-education system,” said Washburn. “As the first major private research university in the Pacific Northwest, Northeastern will bring the academic capacity, market alignment and research focus needed to help solve many of the challenges facing our region and create new opportunities, including corporate and research partnerships.”

Washburn has most recently been a senior member of Foster Pepper PLLC, a Seattle law firm specializing in large and complex private and public infrastructure projects. In his distinguished legal career spanning three decades, he has been recognized nationally as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” and regionally by Washington Super Lawyers.

Washburn has recently served as a senior adviser to Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire on the successful statewide effort to secure the Boeing 737 MAX production in the state. In this capacity, Washburn worked with educators and legislators across the state to secure increased funding for K-12, community college and higher-education programs to help bridge the talent gap in the aerospace industry.

The former chair of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Washburn was recently named Economic Development Champion of the Year by enterpriseSeattle, a regional economic development council. He holds a law degree from the University of Washington. He has a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in history, both from Stanford University.