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Long-range plan objectives discussed at town hall meeting

10/26/16 - BOSTON, MA. - Scenes during the Town Hall meeting held in the Raytheon Amphitheater on Oct. 26, 2016. Photo by: Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

At a town hall meeting Wednesday, members of the Northeastern community heard from university leaders about the long-range plan and discussed the plan’s objectives, with areas of focus ranging from expanding personalized experiential education to upgrading the university’s physical and digital infrastructure.

The long-range plan will map out how Northeastern’s next academic plan will be put into action. The Board of Trustees last month approved the academic plan, which will shape Northeastern’s future over the next decade, and university leaders shared details of the plan at the State of the University on Oct. 20.

At Wednesday’s town hall, James C. Bean, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said a focus of the academic plan involves breaking free from the silos of undergraduate education, professional graduate education, and doctoral work and research and instead integrating those three pillars. “Increasingly as we move into the future of personalized, customized education,” Bean said, “we’ll get more into an integrated arc of learning.”

Faculty and staff discussed the long-range plan at a town hall meeting in the Raytheon Amphitheater on Wednesday. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Faculty and staff discussed the long-range plan at a town hall meeting in the Raytheon Amphitheater on Wednesday. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Bean, who led the town hall with Thomas Nedell, senior vice president for finance and treasurer, noted that the long-range plan’s objectives will be organized in four categories, of which there will be crossover: networks, learning, discovery, and infrastructure.

On networks, Nedell pointed to the expansion of the recently announced Professional Advancement Network as an area of focus. On learning, Bean emphasized the need to expand customized experiential education, grow the university’s leadership in learning science, and provide new investments in Northeastern’s schools and colleges. An example of the latter is the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, which, he said, needs a building that “fits modern business pedagogy” and has new spaces that support collaboration and entrepreneurship.

Among the numerous other areas of focus mentioned were the expansion of facilities and faculty at the Marine Science Center in Nahant, Massachusetts; a central organization that oversees and supports the university’s doctoral programs; and modernized enterprise systems to increase efficiency of the university’s business operations.

Increasingly as we move into the future of personalized, we’ll get more into an integrated arc of learning.
—Provost James C. Bean

After their presentation, Bean and Nedell turned the meeting over to the more than 100 students, faculty, and staff in attendance, who broke into small groups to

discuss the long-range plan and offer feedback. Among the topics highlighted by these breakout groups were further expanding the arts into campus life and enhancing facilities for the College of Arts, Media and Design; recruiting top-notch faculty to lead new world-class institutes; ensuring that the long-range plan reflects Northeastern’s values on diversity, community engagement, and resiliency; and efforts to further integrate adjunct faculty into the fabric of the university.

The second town hall meeting on the long-range plan is scheduled to be held in November.

The long-range plan will be a “five-year rolling plan,” meaning it will not be complete at the outset but rather will continue to evolve to meet the goals of the academic plan. University leaders expect to present the structure of the long-range plan to the Board of Trustees in December.

“The investments we’ve made over the past 10 years have propelled us forward,” Nedell said, adding that Northeastern launched the planning process from a position of strength. Bean added that Northeastern’s strong financial position is underscored by Moody’s revising the university’s A2 bond rating outlook to “positive” earlier this year.