Second long-range plan town hall focuses on objectives, feedback

11/18/16 – BOSTON, MA. – Scenes during the Town Hall Meeting held in the Alumni Lounge at Northeastern University on Nov. 18, 2016. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

University leaders joined faculty, students, and staff on Friday afternoon for a town hall meeting to discuss Northeastern’s long-range plan, where they covered some of the plan’s primary objectives and shared feedback.

The long-range plan will map out how the university’s next academic plan will be put into action. Earlier this fall the Board of Trustees 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 in October.

Provost James C. Bean and Thomas Nedell, senior vice president for finance and treasurer, kicked off the meeting with an overview of how the long-range plan is organized into four categories, of which there is overlap: networks, learning, discovery, and infrastructure. They pointed to some key areas of focus within these categories, including more robust analytics that drive decision-making, customized experiential education, and the expansion of research facilities such as the Marine Science Center as well as new investments in the Northeastern’s schools and colleges.

Friday’s meeting marked the second town hall focusing on the long-range plan, and Bean underscored some key points he presented at the first meeting last month, including the idea that academic plan involves further integrating undergraduate education, professional graduate education, and doctoral work and research.

We’re all empowered to move the plan forward by thinking about new creative ideas.
—Provost James C. Bean

Bean said a major benefit of the academic plan is that it moves the university toward becoming what he called a “shared value organization.” He explained that the goal is that students, faculty, and staff can read the plan and be enabled to bring forth ideas that advance the plan. “We’re all empowered to move the plan forward by thinking about new creative ideas,” he said.

After the presentation, attendees broke into groups to brainstorm ideas and suggestions for the long-range plan. Among the topics highlighted were creating more collaborative spaces for students within each college and for students across colleges to meet; integrating more diversity and inclusion programs into the various colleges, departments, and offices; and bolstering resources that support faculty and staff development and students going on global co-op for the first time.

An additional suggestion was to expand opportunities for faculty and staff to take sabbaticals to pursue partnerships, scholarship, or other initiatives that align with the academic plan’s goals.

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.