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Northeastern’s commitment to academic priorities, student life highlight Faculty Senate meeting

The fiscal year 2016 budget will support Northeastern’s priorities in undergraduate and graduate education, tenured and tenure-track faculty hiring, student life, and a variety of additions and improvements to facilities and technology resources, university leaders said Wednesday during a briefing to the Faculty Senate.

The budget advances the university’s commitment to “bringing high value to the Northeastern experience,” said Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. Director and Thomas Nedell, senior vice president for finance and treasurer, presented the budget report.

The budget includes providing a record $239 million in financial aid—not loans—for undergraduates in 2015-16. It will also create new tenured and tenure-track faculty positions and support the growth of new graduate, professional, and doctorate programs. In bolstering the undergraduate education, Director noted the university’s recently-launched NUterm program for rising sophomores that will offer students greater academic flexibility.

Among the university’s current and planned building projects and improvements is the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, slated for completion by the end of 2016. Director provided an update on the 220,000-square-foot complex on Columbus Avenue that will help transform Northeastern’s research enterprise by providing state-of-the-art infrastructure, fostering collaboration across disciplines, and increasing the university’s capacity to hire top faculty and academic leaders. Northeastern is also expanding laboratory space in Mugar Hall, upgrading more than 60 classrooms with technology and multimedia needs, and building out the university’s innovation campus in Burlington, Massachusetts.

Director and Nedell also outlined Northeastern’s investments in student life. Earlier this year, the university opened its new residence hall, East Village, a 17-story building that also features classroom and multi-use event space. The wireless lock technology upgrades to Northeastern residence halls was also completed this year.

Nedell began his presentation by emphasizing the FY16 budget comes during an economic climate in which inflation is very low and unemployment is at its lowest level since before the Great Recession, and the university’s endowment fund is nearly at an all-time high.

“In general, we are in a fairly good position in the broad sense of our economic climate,” he said.

Other Faculty Senate business on Wednesday included passing a resolution on the proposed new Bachelor of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology. Jon Tilly, professor and chair of the Department of Biology, noted that there is an increase in demand from the biotechnology sector for students who are trained in these disciplines and with knowledge in areas like personalized medicine, genetics, and systems biology.

Tilly said the program aligns with Northeastern faculty members’ strengths, would fill a market need, and would provide exciting co-op experiences. Murray Gibson, founding dean of the College of Science, added that this program would help attract a growing number of high-quality students interested in these fields.

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