At the university’s bi-weekly faculty senate meeting on October 19, administrators shared university updates on the new academic plan, Snell Library renovations and student support initiatives, among other topics.
Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs David Madigan began his update by detailing Northeastern’s new academic plan, Experienced Unleashedwhich was approved in September of last year, and how Northeastern will leverage existing classroom technology to achieve these goals.
“The academic plan puts a lot of emphasis on impact. The purpose of the University is to have a positive impact on the world,” Madigan said. “Rather than thinking about an online versus in-person dichotomy, we need to think about how we use technology to improve our learners’ experience.”
Ken Henderson, the Chancellor and Senior Vice President for Learning, then discussed the state of the Student Success Initiative. An important part of this initiative is MentorHub NU, which connects mentors from upper grades with incoming students from lower grades, Henderson said.
“University is a big and complicated place. Especially for new students coming in, it can be a very intimidating place to navigate in search of resources, services, information,” Henderson said. “The idea here is that there is a sort of multi-level support system. The first level of support is the Student Success Guides.
The program was rolled out to 6,000 freshmen initially last year, but is now part of the experience of 16,000 undergraduates, Henderson said.
“This unit is a mechanism to help sort out those basic questions,” Henderson said. “There is real potential here to use this tool as a proactive mechanism to identify students who may be facing academic and social issues.”
To provide an update on these freshmen, Madigan discussed Northeastern’s 91,000 total applications, 41% return rate, and 27% underrepresented minority representation for the incoming class of 2026. Part of this freshman class also includes 1,736 NUin students and 680 NU Related students.
Along with the incoming class this fall 2022, 223 new faculty have joined the university on the Boston campus alone. Madigan highlighted some notable recent faculty and staff hires — including Beth Mynatt, the new dean of the Khoury College of Computer Science, and Rebecca Hunter, the university’s new associate vice president and registrar — as well as some ongoing research across the university.
Currently, Madigan said the university is seeking deans for the D’Amore McKim School of Business, the College of Social Sciences and Humanities and the Bouvé School of Nursing. These deans will continue to drive research opportunities within each college, a major focus of the academic plan, he said.
“Northeastern’s research business is turning into gangbusters,” Madigan said. “We have seen phenomenal growth across all colleges. »
As Northeastern’s research budget nears $200 million, Madigan said the university has higher goals.
“We’re growing very quickly – we’re aiming to be $500 million in four years,” Madigan said. “It seems within reach.”
Central to this new research will be EXP which Madigan says is set to open soon.
“[EXP] is expected to open in the summer of 2023,” Madigan said. “Very soon, we will all be able to get into EXP and, believe it or not, on time and on budget despite COVID.”
Work will also continue at Snell Library, with renovations that Madigan says are aimed at providing more study space for the growing student population.
“[Snell renovations] will cause pain and disruption for years to come, but we will end up with a vastly improved library with much more study space,” Madigan said.
In the Q&A portion of the call, Kim Lewis, Distinguished University Professor at the College of Science, asked Madigan to make a change to the buying process.
“At the beginning of this year, the administration introduced a new regulation: revision by [the Office of the General Counsel, or OGC] of all purchase orders, no matter how trivial. It slows us down significantly,” Lewis said. “This puts us at a distinct competitive disadvantage compared to other universities where the faculty does not have this burden.”
The OGC is responsible for tracking purchase orders across the university and maintaining records of departmental financial requests.
“I have, on behalf of the faculty, a very simple suggestion: We ask that the OGC exam be abolished,” Lewis said. “It will make our life easier and more efficient.”
Madigan’s response was quick.
“I took notes,” he said. ” I will inquire. »
Valentina Marano, associate professor of international business and strategy, discussed flexibility with illness. She and her colleagues, she said, are surprised to learn that some professors offer little or no flexibility in their classes.
“University cannot be prescriptive to that level of detail about how a professor should handle a student who has COVID or who is sick,” Madigan said. “[We] I really hope that every faculty member will find a way to take care of the student so that their learning can continue.
Paul Chiou, senator-elect of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and associate professor of finance, questioned the extent to which international students are introduced to life in an American classroom because of his difficulties with students internationals engaging in behaviors such as gossiping during conferences.
“A lot of students have different standards and understanding of classroom etiquette in the United States,” Chiou said. “Does the central office think about strategies outside the faculty, systemic [ways] to face this new challenge?
Henderson replied, pointing to the World Service Office on the campus.
“Some of the work that’s being done there, maybe we can organize it to answer some of your questions on a large scale for undergraduate and graduate students,” he said. “We definitely have the tools in place.”
HC Robinson, associate professor of law and sociology, gave another example of this problem in one of his classes.
“I asked a student to do a class report on a fieldwork assignment and described the employee she was observing as a ‘person of color,'” Robinson said. “The student was of Chinese descent, and that was innocuous, but I wonder if we can provide students arriving on campus with the required brief introduction to cultural contexts that they might not be aware of.”
Madigan replied, referring to the racial literacy training rolled out last year.
“We have training for incoming students…which we introduced last year,” Henderson said. “That said, can we do better? Surely yes.
Robinson followed up on this later in the meeting, asking for more details on this training for students. Henderson responded, explaining how the program was implemented over the past year and how it continues to be rolled out in orientation.
“All incoming students are required to take it. It’s built into the college introduction,” Henderson said. “More than two-thirds of continuing education students eventually completed the training.”
Karl Reid, Senior Vice Provost and Director of Inclusion, explained what training might look like in the future.
“We’re looking at a phase 2 of that and what that approach might be,” Reid said. “What we heard from students is that they wanted more engagement with the topics in small circles and discussions, so we’re looking at ways to build that into the freshman experience.”