Four-star general praises Northeastern’s National Guard partnership

Northeastern University has signed a first-of-its-kind agreement with the National Guard, enabling guardsmen to earn their Master of Arts degree in homeland security through the university’s College of Professional Studies.

Northeastern celebrated the partnership in the Raytheon Amphitheater on Thursday afternoon, hosting a meet-and-greet for key stakeholders in the armed forces and university community.

The reception featured remarks by Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and National Guard Bureau Chief General Frank J. Grass. They addressed an audience that included ROTC cadets in Northeastern’s Liberty Battalion; students in the homeland security program; members of the university’s Student Veterans Organization; and Major General L. Scott Rice, the adjutant general of the Massachusetts National Guard.

General Grass—who is responsible for ensuring that some 470,000 Army and Air National Guard personnel are accessible, capable, and ready to protect the homeland—spoke directly to the service members in attendance. “We owe so much to those who serve,” he said. “And we are obligated to give you the right tools to be the best you can be.”

Indeed, Northeastern’s novel partnership with the National Guard will afford students who have completed the program at the National Guard Bureau’s Homeland Security Institute the opportunity to earn 15 credits toward their master’s degree. The program, which offers both online and classroom learning, is intended to prepare the next generation of emergency managers and homeland security professionals for leadership roles in the public and private sectors. Courses will cover the intricacies of the disaster cycle, data analysis, and the nature and sources of threats to social, political, and economic systems.

The partnership dovetails with Northeastern’s commitment to solving global challenges in security—one of the university’s three programmatic pillars—and builds on its longstanding commitment to supporting service members. Over the past 60 years, some 4,000 Northeastern graduates have received ROTC commission. What’s more, the majority of Northeastern stu­dent vet­erans par­tic­i­pate in the fed­eral government’s Yellow Ribbon Pro­gram, which cur­rently pro­vides schol­ar­ships to hundreds of those who have served in the post-​​​​9/​​11 era.

National Guard Bureau Chief Gen­eral Frank J. Grass and North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun at the university's Veterans Memorial.

National Guard Bureau Chief Gen­eral Frank J. Grass and North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun at the university’s Veterans Memorial.

In his remarks, President Aoun emphasized that Northeastern is dedicated to honoring the military and its vital role in society. “It’s a privilege for Northeastern to be working with you through this great partnership,” he told General Grass. “It’s unique, and we hope that it develops into a long relationship to help bring together all the armed forces.”

Aoun also underscored Northeastern’s extensive interdisciplinary collaborations in security research, pointing in particular to the Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security. Opened in 2011, the state-of-the-art research facility brings together academia, industry, and government practitioners to advance resilience in the face of 21st-century risks. “Training in security is a priority,” Aoun said, “and the country doesn’t have enough people who are proficient in this domain.”

His comments echoed those of General Grass, who closed his speech by urging students to prepare for the ever-changing threats in our ever-changing world. “You have to stay engaged,” he told them. “You have to be thinking all the time in ways that I never had to.”