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Northeastern vice president will oversee lifelong experiential learning and mobility strategy

Deanna Raineri comes to Northeastern from Coursera, an online education company, where she most recently served as the chief academic strategist and the interim chief content officer. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Northeastern University has appointed Deanna Raineri as vice president and vice provost for digital learning and mobility strategy effective Jan. 2, 2019.

Raineri comes to Northeastern from Coursera, an online education company, where she most recently served as the chief academic strategist and the interim chief content officer.

She has worked at the leading edge of digital learning for the majority of her career, in which she has developed innovative online and blended education programs and strategies for colleges and universities to teach students remotely and in the classroom.

At Northeastern, Raineri will develop and execute strategies to grow the university’s lifelong learning and experiential programs throughout its global university system. She will focus on extending Northeastern’s educational offerings across the globe, using technology to increase access and give learners more flexibility, and by increasing opportunities for students to take classes across Northeastern’s regional campuses.

“All of our students—the students who are starting as freshmen, and those who are graduating—they are now lifelong learners,” Raineri said. “They are not going to leave this campus with their degrees in hand and say, ‘I’m set for life now.’ It’s not going to happen. Everyone is going to have to constantly learn new skills and acquire new knowledge throughout their careers.”

Raineri will work closely with the deans of Northeastern’s colleges and regional campuses as well as other university leaders, faculty, and employer partners to design innovative approaches as part of Northeastern’s lifelong learning strategy.

Northeastern offers a variety of professional certificate- and master’s programs and boot camps to help learners acquire the skills they need throughout their lives to meet the increasing demand for qualified workers in the age of artificial intelligence.

Raineri will also oversee Level, the university’s learning innovation accelerator, and the university’s N.U.in  program.

N.U.in is a global experiential learning program in which first-year students study abroad at a partner institution in one of 12 cities worldwide in the fall semester and then take classes at Northeastern’s Boston campus in the spring semester.

Level currently offers boot camp-style programs in data analytics and the internet of things to working professionals who want to gain skills that are in high demand. Northeastern leaders envision Level along with the university’s Digital and Enterprise Learning Innovation unit at the Lowell Institute becoming test beds where the university can experiment with novel programs and workshops designed to prepare students and companies to succeed in an era of unprecedented technological, social, and economic transformation.

Raineri will also lend her expertise to Northeastern’s Experiential Networkan initiative built to help graduate and professional studies students engage in experiential learning opportunities with the university’s real-world partners.

Raineri worked with more than 100 universities worldwide while at Coursera to bring their courses, credentials, and degree programs to Coursera’s platform and to offer their content in new ways.

Prior to Coursera, Raineri spent 24 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she shaped the campus strategy for innovation in online and classroom education. She started as a senior research scientist in 1992 and ascended into several roles in academic leadership after spending several years as a faculty member in the School of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Raineri founded LAS Online, an initiative to take general education and oversubscribed courses fully online to give students more curricular flexibility. This initiative led to the development of more than 180 fully online courses, including three Masters programs and a Bachelor’s degree completion program. She also oversaw the university’s partnership with Coursera, which led to the creation of more than 70 massive open online courses and three online degree programs, including an online MBA that marked the first online graduate degree offered by Coursera.

The unbundled and stackable degree model, which Raineri and her College of Business colleagues conceived, introduced a ground-breaking model for online education in which students have the flexibility to take only the courses they want to earn credentials, or to stack these credentials together to earn a degree.

A biochemist and molecular biologist by training, Raineri earned her doctorate and bachelor’s degree in the United Kingdom before coming to the United States in 1988 after receiving a NATO postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington.

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