John LaBrie, founding principal of Northeastern University-Toronto, has received the UPCEA International Leadership Award, which recognizes innovative leadership in facilitating international professional and continuing education.
LaBrie was honored last month at UPCEA’s annual conference. The organization is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education serving more than 400 institutions across North America. “Of all the aspects of my career in higher education and continuing education, the international work has been particularly fruitful and meaningful for me,” LaBrie said.
At the conference Northeastern’s Sean Gallagher, executive director of the university’s newly launched Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy, also received the Phillip E. Frandson Award for Literature for his book, The Future of University Credentials: New Developments at the Intersection of Higher Education and Hiring. The award recognizes outstanding work of continuing higher education literature. News@Northeastern recently interviewed Gallagher, executive professor of educational policy, about how universities can prepare students for the changing demands of the workforce they’re entering.
A distinguished career
Leadership in international programming and continuing education has been a hallmark of LaBrie’s higher education career. At Northeastern, he helped develop the university’s strategy to grow its regional campus network, and last April he was tapped to lead Northeastern’s first international campus, in Toronto, where the first cohort of students will begin taking online courses this month. The campus’ initial program portfolio will include master’s programs in project management, information assurance, and regulatory affairs—fields in high demand from employers in the region.
LaBrie previously served as dean of the College of Professional Studies. Under his leadership, CPS supervised international pathway programs for Northeastern and under his leadership, the college launched transnational education programs in cities such as Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, and Melbourne. He was also instrumental in growing Northeastern’s international program for freshmen, N.U.in, and he frequently advises on international initiatives and presents internationally on behalf of Northeastern.
“International education is more important today than ever before,” LaBrie said. “It’s our responsibility to convey to our students and to the larger community in our society the importance of this work. Some of the most innovative centers in the world today are hotbeds of immigration and cultural diversity.”
Prior to Northeastern, LaBrie directed the Office of International Development at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. During his tenure, he worked on an Asian Development Bank project in Sri Lanka that sought to modernize Sri Lanka’s Open University, and his office hosted an AIDS de-stigmatization program in Ghana that delivered a curriculum to thousands of primary healthcare workers. Earlier in his career, LaBrie spearheaded and founded an international programming office at the University of Southern Maine and worked with faculty to develop study abroad programs for first-generation students.
LaBrie said he “never set out to be an internationalist.” He recalled that as an undergraduate at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, he studied in France and came back feeling transformed by the experience and with a budding interest in international education. “I grew up with dual citizenship in the U.S. and Canada,” he explained. “Borders were always fungible in my mind. They weren’t really hard borders, but rather places to wander across to see what’s going on.”