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The pingpong partnership

Emerald City, get your paddles ready. Northeastern’s graduate campus in Seattle and the city have teamed up to install a new pingpong table in City Hall.

Tayloe Washburn, the dean and CEO of Northeastern—Seattle, and City Councilmember Nick Licata unveiled the table on Wednesday afternoon in a short ceremony. Council President Sally Clark and Deputy Mayor Darryl Smith presided over the festivities, which included an epic showdown between Washburn and Licata, pingpong aficionados whose bond over their shared love for the game led directly to the partnership.

Northeastern sold the pingpong table, paddles, and balls emblazoned with the university’s name to the city for $1, a formality that expedited the process. The table will be housed on the ground level of Seattle’s City Hall and will be available for public use.

According to Washburn, playing pingpong is a popular way for students, researchers, and entrepreneurs at Northeastern and in Seattle’s startup community to relax after a long day of work.

“At Northeastern, we’re focused on innovation,” he said. “Providing this recreational outlet is the perfect way to contribute to City Hall’s communal atmosphere and introduce more people to Northeastern.”

Added Licata: “City Hall is host to public concerts, public protests, public rallies; why wouldn’t we add a public pingpong table to the mix?”

The pair’s pingpong prowess is no secret. In table tennis circles, Washburn is known as “Big Daddy Ping,” Licata as “The Shark.”

In the table’s inaugural match, Big Daddy Ping bested The Shark 21-15 in a hotly contested battle. Washburn sported Northeastern track pants and a T-shirt emblazoned with the image of a Husky. “My pants are loose so I will be able to dive for drop shots,” he joked in a pre-game interview. Noting the light wind conditions, he said, “I’ll have to factor that into my spin and defensive strategy.”

Northeastern’s graduate campus in Seattle opened in January in the South Lake Union neighborhood, an innovative hub of global health, life sciences, and technology companies and institutions that complements the 28 graduate degrees offered by the university. The degrees, designed for working professionals, are delivered through an innovative hybrid education model that merges online and on-campus learning.