Graduate campuses expand Northeastern’s footprint

Northeastern’s graduate campuses in Charlotte, N.C., and Seattle, combined with its hybrid online education model — which pairs personal interactions between students and faculty with top-notch online learning — are placing the university in the lead in an increasingly competitive higher-education environment, university leaders said Wednesday at the Faculty Senate meeting.

“I think it’s exciting and thrilling: What we’re talking about here is being at the front of the pack,” said Terry Fulmer, the dean of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences.

The Senate meeting included a discussion with Stephen Zoloth, dean of academic affairs for external programs and vice provost for health research, who explained how Northeastern’s online education programs — which enroll 6,500 students in 48 states — and graduate campuses are opening up new opportunities for current students, faculty and alumni.

“Our presence in Charlotte, for example, brought benefits that flow back to the university,” Zoloth said. “Our institution now has a reputation in regions we were not better known in before, and it gives us a way to work with people we would otherwise have had little access to.”

The Seattle and Charlotte campuses are part of a worldwide network that creates opportunities for co-op, research and industry partnerships, Zoloth explained.

“All of a sudden we have a new portal,” he said.

Graduate campuses and online education let Northeastern look beyond Boston to provide the same quality education to areas where professional master’s degrees are not as readily available, he said.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the Faculty Senate voted to support the recommendation of its Financial Affairs Committee for a 4 percent increase in the merit pool for the next fiscal year and to establish a new Master of Design for Sustainable Urban Environments, an interdisciplinary program in the College of Arts, Media and Design that combines architecture, environmental science and planning to address issues of sustainability.

“This is a program that is in full alignment with the mission of our college,” said Xavier Costa, the college’s dean. “This is really a central step toward our efforts in developing new activities in sustainability.”