Academic planning takes center stage at State of the University

10/28/15 – BOSTON, MA. – Students, faculty and staff filled the Solomon Court for the 2015 State of the University event. Remarks were given by President Joseph E. Aoun, James C. Bean Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Diane MacGillivray, Senior Vice President for University Advancement, Carmen Sceppa, Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Sciences and Chair of the Senate Agenda Committee, and Eric Tyler, CIS’16, president of the Student Government Association. Staff Photo: Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

At the State of the University on Wednesday, university leaders outlined the process for the next academic plan, which will bring together the entire Northeastern community to guide the university’s course for the next 10 years.

“Let us build a university that is a beacon of innovation,” President Joseph E. Aoun told an overflow crowd of students, faculty, and staff gathered at the Cabot Center. “Let us build the university of tomorrow.”

This strategic planning process calls for extensive discussion about the Northeastern community’s collaborative ambitions for the university’s future. This includes determining the essence of Northeastern, what the university should look like in 2025, and how its distinctive identity should evolve to meet the challenges facing higher education. Even the university’s mission statement will be up for reexamination.

James C. Bean, Northeastern’s new provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said this inclusive process would engage the entire university community. The many stakeholders include students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as parents, community members, and donors.

Bean announced a new interactive website for the academic plan where people can learn more about the process, find up-to-date information, share ideas, and join the discussion. There will also be a series of town hall meetings next year.

“We are here today not to tell you what the next strategic directions are for Northeastern University, but to invite you to participate in developing them,” Bean said.

The academic plan will take shape over the next year, and the final plan will be ratified in fall 2016. The academic plan will serve as the framework for the university’s next long-range plan, which will map out how the academic plan will be put into action.

Let us build a university that is a beacon of innovation. Let us build the university of tomorrow.

Joseph E. Aoun, President

As the university embarks on this strategic planning process, Aoun identified four core beliefs, fixed points that form the university’s compass: that the most powerful education is experiential, that education must be innovative, that education must be global, and that research must have an impact on the world.

Aoun noted that Northeastern exceeded the goals laid forth in the previous academic plan, and thanked Provost Emeritus Stephen W. Director for his role in the university’s success.

Now, he said, Northeastern has “arrived at the intersection of our own history and opportunity,” and it is time to take a broader view of what higher education can provide. This, he said, will help students become lifelong learners, deepen the impact of the university’s doctoral programs, and remove barriers between disciplines to pursue new areas of knowledge and research.

Engagement throughout the Northeastern community

Carmen Sceppa, chair of the Senate Agenda Committee, called Northeastern’s tenure and non-tenure-track faculty the “institutional ambassadors in our own national and global networks.” She emphasized the importance of shared governance and communication between the faculty and administration, and said she and other Senate Agenda Committee members are committed to working with the administration to craft the academic plan as well as other university initiatives and priorities.

“As we look forward to the future, we ask President Aoun to continue to empower faculty as a true partner in the efforts and successes of the Northeastern story,” said Sceppa, who is a professor and chair of the Department of Health Sciences. “We welcome that opportunity and that challenge that will help us shape the future of university and to reach even greater heights.”

Eric Tyler, CIS’16, president of the Student Government Association, urged students to take an active role in shaping the new academic plan as well.

“While some of us may only be here for a few more years, we will all be proud Northeastern alumni for the rest of our lives,” Tyler said. “Our connection to the university does not end when you cross the stage at Commencement. We have an obligation as lifelong Huskies to shape the future for the students who will come after us.”

We are here today not to tell you what the next strategic directions are for Northeastern University, but to invite you to participate in developing them.

James C. Bean, Provost

Empower campaign goal increased
Building the next academic plan will begin as Northeastern is in the midst of Empower, the university’s most ambitious fundraising campaign in its history. Diane McGillivray, senior vice president for University Advancement, noted that since the campaign launched two years ago, more than half of all faculty and staff have made individual donations—placing it in the top quartile nationally—and that Northeastern had its highest single-year giving total in its history. Beyond these numbers, she added, there are at least two stories behind each gift: the story of the donor, and the story of the beneficiary.

To seize upon this opportunity and surging momentum, McGillivray announced that the Empower campaign’s initial goal of raising $1 billion by 2017 is being increased to $1.25 billion—$625 million in philanthropic support, and $625 million from government and industry partnerships.

While this won’t be easy, she said, “it is necessary to fuel this academic plan, which is no doubt going to be as bold and exciting as everything we do here at Northeastern.”