Ted Miller, Professor of Political History at Northeastern CPS, Speaks to WBUR

Edward (Ted) Miller, professor of political history at CPS joined WBUR’s “On Point” to address the vital question: “Is the United States a Republic or a Democracy.” As the nation navigates yet another presidential election year, Miller delves into the historical aspects of this question and shares insights into who we are as a country. The entire conversation is fascinating, but you can find Miller voice his perspective at the 21-minute mark.

Is the U.S. a democracy?
May 03, 2024

Alumni Spotlight: Pat Jackson, Law and Policy Doctoral Graduate 2022

Shelter is more than having a roof over your head. One woman’s journey from homelessness to the corner office.

Pat Jackson, graduated from the Doctor of Law and Policy (DLP) program in 2022 and is now the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Providence and East Bay, a nonprofit organization that provides housing support services to over 175k people.

Prior to this, Jackson was the Interim Executive Director for Brockton Development authority, a quasi-public agency in Massachusetts focused on the economic revitalization and community development for the city residents, a population of more than 100,000.

In Rhode Island, along with major city power brokers and elected officials, Jackson helps make decisions about commercial and residential real estate investments. She also advocates for people who are experiencing homelessness and develops programs to benefit low- and moderate-income households.

Her dedication to serving others and her commitment to those who are experiencing homelessness is more than a job. It’s personal.

The Difficult Journey

When Jackson was eight years old, she and her family experienced homelessness. They lived in their car and in shelters where it was mandatory to check in every evening and check out the next morning. Her father suffered from a substance use disorder, making it difficult for her mother to afford rent on her own and meet the needs of their six children.

That cycle of uncertain housing and insecurity ended when Jackon’s mother got a job at one of the best places to work at the time in Kansas City, Kansas—the Proctor and Gamble factory.

Education and Academic Credentials

When Jackson became an adult, she moved to Parkville Missouri, a fifteen-minute journey from her birthplace in Kansas City. She received her bachelor’s degree in public administration from Park University, a small local college that identifies social responsibility as one of its core values. After graduation from Park University, Jackson worked at Tyson Foods.

On a whim in 2015, she took a vacation trip to Boston and as she ended an enjoyable duck boat tour with friends, the duck boat stopped downtown. Jackson alighted and went to a Dunkin Donuts to grab a drink. After purchasing a coffee, on her way out of the store, she said, “That’s when my life changed.”

As she left the Dunkin Donuts store, Jackson bumped into someone, spilling her coffee all over the other woman’s shirt. She apologized and gave the woman, named Sasha, her phone number with a promise to buy her a new shirt. Sasha called while Jackson was still in Boston, and they had ‘a couple more dates’. Jackson says, “I did buy her that new shirt!”

After Jackson returned home, she stayed in close contact with Sasha. They began a long distant relationship and in 2016, Jackson quit her job at Tyson’s and moved to Boston.

Jackson didn’t know anything about Northeastern or CPS before she applied. But she always knew that she wanted to continue her education and get her master’s degree; she was just waiting for the opportunity. Sasha, who grew up in Roxbury right next to the Northeastern campus, told her about Northeastern’s legal studies program. Jackson applied, got accepted, and concentrated on a Business Law degree. She then went on to become a Double Husky, obtaining her doctorate in 2022.

It was an amazing onboarding experience,” Jackson said. The advisor said ‘hey, we have a Law program and I think you’d be a great fit’ and I applied and got in and the professors were so supportive. Advisors really can shape your life!”

Jackson liked the fact that the Doctor of Law and Policy program was aimed at experienced professionals seeking to effect change through a deeper understanding of the origins, development, implementation and analysis of legal and public policy decisions.

Jackson identified three classes in the program that helped her the most in her current role:

“The way [DeLeo] talks about tackling some of the tougher policies and the need for both sides of the aisle to work together for a more common and purposeful goal was inspiring.”

Pat Jackson

Since graduating with her PhD, Jackson is particularly intentional about applying the learnings from her courses and fellow classmates. Today, she is a champion for challenging the assumptions of what it means to experience homelessness.

Mentors and Cohorts

“The assumption that ‘once you’re housed, the problems will go away’ is false. Take a young woman, named Jane, who is homeless with a drug addiction. If you give her a home, it doesn’t mean her drug addiction will go away. I believe there should be something to help her with her addiction so she can stay in her housing. We talk about how many people we house but we don’t talk about recidivism, how many times the same person comes back through the system. Housing services demand additional wrap-around services, and that’s what I advocate for, because I’m looking for real results.”

In Massachusetts, the current model is a ‘Housing First’ philosophy. Jackson thinks this can be improved but she also sees that it’s making a positive impact.

“The housing system is similar to the penal system,” she said, “if we keep seeing people coming back, we should be focusing on what we need to do to prevent them from coming back again.”

Jackson also recognizes the importance of having a mentor and an advocate to help identify jobs, transportation options, substance use disorders and mental health programs when needed.

On the advocacy front, Jackson is currently working with several legislators to advance opportunities in the state to make progress. She has also teamed up with several local activists to visit the state house and talk about affordable home ownership and changes to the landscape of neighborhood design,

“I’m all about building the neighborhood to establish the village,” she said.

Advice for Prospective Law and Policy Students

Asked what advice she might impart to prospective students, Jackson said:

“The spectrum for what you can do with this degree is so wide. This program helps shape the way that you look at work from a macro level. It enables you to be an advocate and dig deep to find out what you are willing to fight for and where you are willing to advocate for change.”

Pat Jackson

As for what higher education institutions like CPS and Northeastern can do for housing advocacy, Jackson has thoughts on that, too.

In our program curriculum, it’s important to start these conversations earlier. For me, we didn’t start this conversation until my senior year. So, it’s the institution taking proactive steps towards inclusivity, making sure they include the people who reside in these neighborhoods in the planning of the curricula and identifying the real-world issues around every topic. And giving that a platform in the classroom.

She said that individuals who are keen to become active beyond the classroom can consider joining the boards of local Community Development Committees (CDCs), join the local NAACP or action firms that have housing and legislative meetings, attend public meetings, and make sure they stay informed.

She says, “Go to ‘advocacy day’ at the state house and speak out against things. Don’t let issues like this die.”

What Freedom of Religion Should Look Like in Public Schools After a Recent Supreme Court Decision?

As students are set to return to classrooms for a new school year, the Supreme Court’s recent 6-3 decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District is raising fears that the ruling undermines the traditional separation of church and state in public education.

Karen Reiss-Medwed and Noor Ali, professors in the Graduate School of Education at CPS, argue that K-12 schools need to do better in recognizing and honoring the identities of students who belong to religious minorities.

Four Students Were Named 2022 RISE Award Winners

Students, faculty, staff across Northeastern University, and industry leaders participated in the university’s annual RISE (Research, Innovation, Scholarship, Entrepreneurship) exhibition on April 14, 2022, a showcase for multidisciplinary student research and creative projects. Student competitors had the opportunity to virtually present their research to industry professionals and potential employers or investors.

This year, four College of Professional Studies graduate students were named RISE Award winners across three categories:

Category: Business and Entrepreneurship

Mary McNamara, Doctor of Education student ’22: Mentoring Others Elevates All: The Benefits of Diverse Mentor-Entrepreneur Dyads

Corey Ortiz, MS Corporate and Organizational Communication student ’23: Feeling the Crunch: Expectations of Crunch Time in the Video Game Industry

Category: Interdisciplinary Topics, Centers, and Institutes

Asha Kiran Makwana, MPS Analytics student ‘22: KAPI (Keyboardless ASL-inspired Programming Interface)

Category: Social Sciences, Humanities, and Law

L’Bertrice Solomon, Doctor of Law and Policy student ‘22: Let Me Live: Corporate Environmental Exceptions, Failed Environmental Protections in Louisiana

Congratulations to our awardees!

New Graduate Degree in Security and Intelligence

In an era of increased threats to our security, a new master’s degree program in a fast-growing professional field is set to give graduates the tools to anticipate and lead responses to security threats worldwide.

Designed to prepare students for leadership roles in the field of security and intelligence, the Master of Arts in Security and Intelligence Studies offers an interdisciplinary approach that merges security, law, politics, and constitutional rights to create well-rounded security leaders.

“Northeastern University has a long history of preparing individuals for leadership roles in the justice system,” said Faculty Director Jack McDevitt, professor of the practice in criminology and criminal justice and director of Northeastern’s Institute on Race and Justice. “We believe this new degree will be the strongest program yet to prepare security professionals to confront and respond to the increasingly complex challenges facing the United States and the world.”

In a challenging global security environment that is only becoming more complex, security and intelligence-related jobs are expected to expand much more rapidly than the average occupation, according to JobsEQ, a labor market research database. The new degree will equip learners with state-of-the-art training for security roles such as intelligence analyst, special agent, information security officer, corporate security specialist and manager, criminal investigator, or fraud investigator.

Taught by a faculty of security experts with long and diverse experience—including as constitutional lawyers, White House advisors, CIA operatives, military intelligence officers and more—the program will challenge students to gain and hone a broad array of skills through experiential learning as well as classroom and remote pedagogy. Among other critical competencies, participants will learn intelligence collection and dissemination, analysis, research, threat assessment, and evaluation of information and policy development, all while focusing on the importance of civil liberties in pursuing security in civil society.

Master’s candidates in the program will have the opportunity to choose among three concentrations: Strategic Intelligence & Analysis, Homeland Security & Emergency Management, and Corporate Security Management. As they explore a specialized course of study, areas of inquiry will include: the application of current leadership theory and managerial approaches to the security domain to ensure ethical business and strategic practices; the use of historical and contemporary references to explore issues related to homeland security efforts in the US; and the evaluation of key global regions to reveal unique threats and opportunities to interrupt them.

Also emphasized will be the role agencies at all levels of government, federal, state, local as well as the private sector play to prevent and respond to both human made and natural threats.

Students may begin enrolling in the Fall 2022 term.

CPS Students Win University Awards with Record Seven Named to Northeastern’s Huntington 100

College of Professional Studies students at every academic degree level – bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral – were recognized this year with prestigious university awards for their extraordinary achievements and commitment to the values of Northeastern University.

The Huntington 100 banner hanging in front of a large Northeastern banner. Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University
Photo by Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University

A record seven CPS students were named to the Huntington 100 this year, a group of students recognized for their service, leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship, global engagement, and impact on the campus community. These students are:

Distinguished juniors and seniors are selected by nomination into the Huntington 100 from all Northeastern campuses for achievements that embody “the university’s mission, ideals, and values”.

Lauren Herfindahl, CPS’22 was also the recipient of a Compass Award from Northeastern University Alumni Association. The award recognizes students from the senior class for “true dedication to a core set of values: leadership, volunteerism, academic integrity, and commitment to Northeastern.” Lauren, who’s looking to transition to the healthcare field, achieved academic success while working full-time as a professional dancer with the Boston Ballet and volunteering to mentor younger dancers. Each year, only nine awards are presented. David Fields, Interim Dean at the College of Professional Studies, described Lauren as “a disciplined, dedicated worker inside and outside of the classroom…precisely what it means to be a Northeastern University Husky.”

Out of more than 100 nominations received across award categories and Northeastern’s academic colleges, Digital Media student Raissa Talehata was honored with an Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Experiential Learning. This award is presented to graduate students “who have shown an extraordinary capacity to integrate academics and professional work and establish themselves as emerging leaders in their field.” As stated by her recommender, Raissa has “taken advantage of every opportunity for experiential learning, both curricular and co-curricular, during [her] course of study.”

Congratulations to all our awardees on their accomplishments!

A Passion for History

With a new syllabus in development, a new book set for release, and a deep well of practical knowledge, Professor Edward H. Miller emphasizes excellence, engagement, and experiential learning.

Ted Miller portrait photo
Professor Edward H. Miller, Associate Teaching Professor at NU Global and historian of American politics, political culture, and capitalism

If one were to follow the thread of Professor Edward H. “Ted” Miller’s interest in history all the way back to the beginning, they might find themselves near the southernmost point in the U.S., standing on No Name Bridge in Big Pine Key, staring across Bogie Channel. It was there, Miller says, that in 1960 his grandparents heard the sound of gunfire in the night and wondered, later learning that secret trainings for the Bay of Pigs invasion had been carried out a few miles from their home.

“It was fascinating to me,” says Miller, who vacationed there with his family as a child. “Here in Florida, all these people in retirement, and history’s happening literally in their backyard!”

Miller’s father, Franklin H. Miller, who graduated from Northeastern with a degree in electrical engineering in 1967, passed along that morsel of family lore to the young Miller—along with a love for excavating the ways the past informs the present. Such historical tidbits, Miller says, are what fueled the passion that would eventually lead him to become a professional historian.

“My father was a history buff,” Miller says. “He’d take me on trips to Gettysburg, trips to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, a trip to Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. I’d get to bring a friend and we’d have these wonderful experiences. I got hooked.”

Contemplating conspiracy

Miller went on to major in history at Providence College. He later earned his doctorate at Boston College in 2013. His dissertation, “Mavericks of the Metroplex: Dallas Republicans, the Southern Strategy, and the American Right,” became his first book, Nut Country: Right Wing Dallas and the Birth of the Southern Strategy, published in 2015 by the University of Chicago Press. A new book, forthcoming this month from the University of Chicago Press, is titled A Conspiratorial Life: Robert Welch, the John Birch Society, and the Revolution of American Conservatism.

“I wanted to write a biography for the educated general reader,” Miller says of that publication. “And Robert Welch was a crucial figure in the history of American conservatism. If you take a look at what was going on in the 1970s at the John Birch Society, they were very much involved in creating the Reagan Revolution. They were involved in the abortion debates and the tax reform debates and the anti-ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) debates that would promote the Reagan Revolution.”

What Miller couldn’t have guessed when he started writing A Conspiratorial Life in 2014 was that his biography of an American conspiracist would be so timely.

“As we got closer to the date of publication, it just kept getting more relevant,” Miller says. “In many ways I wish it wasn’t so relevant. It was kind of a hard book to write, because while I was writing it we were seeing a lot of these same themes—the reluctance to embrace democracy, the conspiracy theories—start to play out.”

Among other things, Miller says, Welch was a fantasist—and perhaps a fabulist—of the highest order.

“Robert Welch provided a completely different perspective from anything that you would read in a history book,” Miller says. “He didn’t believe there was a Sputnik. He thought the Vietnam war was a phony war run by the Kremlin. He had a belief system that was just contradictory to the reality.”

‘Canards’ of election fraud

As Miller points out in a recent Washington Post column, Welch also aired claims of election fraud. In 1952, he announced that the Republican primary had been stolen from Robert Taft by Dwight D. Eisenhower, a false claim that Miller argues laid the groundwork for similar claims about the 2020 election.

“As we mark the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection,” Miller writes in the column, “it is critical that we recognize that the canards of election fraud have antecedents worth studying.”

Studying historical precedents to get at contemporary truths is also something Miller encourages in his students.

“I think it’s important for academics, especially today, to highlight that what causes history are individual people and individual events acting in time,” Miller says, “not some grand conspiracy controlling everything. And that can be done gently, so that students can see the truth. There are all these conspiracies on the internet now, so in some ways it’s like Sisyphus pushing his rock up a hill, but it’s an important role for education in a society that values truth.”

Now an associate teaching professor and course coordinator at NU Global, Miller joined the College of Professional Studies in 2011. He was drawn to Northeastern’s blend of rigorous scholarship and experiential learning, he says, and he finds satisfaction in both the pursuit of his research and the diverse experiences and backgrounds of his students.

“My definition of happiness is what the ancient Greeks say: the best use of your powers along lines of excellence,” Miller says. “Northeastern embodies that excellence and encourages me to go further with my research. At the same time, I learn so much every semester from our global students. I learn about their cultures, their traditions. It’s fascinating. And when I learn a little bit then I’ll delve a bit more and I’ll perhaps introduce it into the class and dovetail it with the history class, with the American history.”

Mugwumps and suburban warriors

To his writing and teaching, Miller brings not only the perspective of a historian but also that of a former political insider. After earning his bachelor’s degree and before beginning his graduate studies, he worked for eight years as a policy analyst and then research director at the Massachusetts House of Representatives. In those roles, he delved into data and history, working to draft legislation and to brief lawmakers on issues that included health care, social security, and public retirement policy.

It was in the course of that work, Miller says, that his interest in a career in academia first took root. As he researched a bill designed to change civil service laws in Massachusetts, he became fascinated with the legislative history.

“So I took a course at Boston College to explore the origins of the civil service system and why it was established,” he says. “And I came across the mugwumps of the 1880s. They were considered reformers of the time, but they were generally conservatives. I really enjoyed that course.” He enjoyed it so much, in fact, that he wrote an article on the topic that was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Later, when he returned to Boston College to get his PhD, Miller resumed his study of 19th-century conservatism and then encountered Lisa McGirr’s Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right.

“That was the book where I said, wow, ok, I’m more interested in the 20th century American conservatism and determining the origins of it” Miller says. “I was a child of the Reagan years, so I was just fascinated by that time. And so I started studying the right in the 20th century.”

Engaging with experts

During his years in politics, Miller also built relationships, many of which now inform his classes. Drawing on a wide professional network, he frequently invites politicians and former colleagues to meet with his students. Students love the experiential aspect of the visits and fieldtrips around Boston, he says, and speakers are consistently impressed with the conversations that ensue.

“This semester, I’m teaching a class on leadership in the NUImmerse program,” Miller says. “I’m working on a new syllabus, and we have a plethora of state, local, and even federal officials who are going to come talk. Students will be fully engaged and asking questions of these leaders.”

It is these kinds of interactions, with students and colleagues, that Miller says he treasures most about the community at Northeastern.

“My dad has always said, ‘you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, but continue to surround yourself with people smarter than you and you’ll be in a good place,’” Miller says. “And that’s what I try to do at Northeastern. There are so many smart people here. I love the endless supply of interesting conversations. It’s a fantastic place. And my dad walked the halls here. I really consider it my home.”

Meet Our New and Promoted Faculty

This year, the College of Professional Studies welcomed eight new faculty colleagues and celebrated five faculty colleagues who earned a promotion, whose accomplishments are listed below.

The faculty of the College of Professional Studies create exceptional learning experiences that are essential to our students’ success. Along with that demonstrated excellence, the faculty also share a commitment to exploring new ways of responding to the changing needs of our students. Our faculty members’ ingenuity, expertise, and creativity in program and curriculum development prove that education can persist and even flourish during difficult times.


New Faculty

Dr. Ammar Aamer

Ammar Aamer, PhD, is an associate teaching professor in the Project Management program.

Dr. Aamer has more than 22 years of industry experience in project management, operations management, supply chain management and strategic business. He has served as a consultant on systems and processes including lean manufacturing, warehousing, six sigma, process and quality improvement and simulation modeling for numerous companies including Volvo, TRW Automotive, and Gap Inc. This included organizing and managing executive management training, developing capacity and asset-utilization models, and managing several continuous improvement projects.

Dr. Aamer has also served in various roles in education, including as assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and dean of the faculty of engineering and technology at Sana’a and Sampoerna Universities in Yemen and Indonesia. His publications include recent articles in the International Journal of Production Research, International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, and Benchmarking: An International Journal. His research is currently focused on the areas of data analytics and supply chain management, artificial intelligence and project management, lean six sigma, change management, and the Internet of Things (IoT). Prior to his academic and business management roles, Dr. Aamer worked as a senior industrial engineer at Gap Inc.

Dr. Aamer earned his PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 2005. He has also achieved the Project Management Professional designation from the Project Management Institute. He lives in the greater Toronto area and teaches at Northeastern’s Toronto campus and online.

Dr. Noor Ali

Noor Ali, EdD, is an assistant teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Ali has been a K-12 teacher for 15 years. She is the principal of Al-Hamra Academy, where her work has included mentoring faculty and students in bringing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) -based experiential learning to the school. In this role she has also led initiatives focused on civic engagement among marginalized populations focused on social justice.

Dr. Ali’s writing on social justice, marginalization, leadership and curriculum has been published in academic journals including Follow The Leader and popular media outlets such as the Teach Better blog. Her book, Critical Storytelling: Narratives of Muslim American Youth, is forthcoming this fall from Brill/Sense. Her research interests include Critical Race Theory (CRT), and she has coined a CRT subset, MusCrit. She has extensive experience with citizen science, youth civic engagement, social justice and equity and interfaith initiatives. 

Dr. Ali is a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Taskforce for the Town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and has served as a board member on the Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, an organization that supports mental health. She has also worked extensively with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) and serves on the Accreditation Commission of Independent Schools. 

Dr. Ali earned her EdD from Northeastern in 2018. She lives in the greater Boston area and teaches at Northeastern’s Boston campus and online.

Jim Giumarra

Jim Giumarra is an associate academic specialist and faculty lead for the Mechatronics Engineering program.  

Professor Giumarra previously served as department chair for electronics engineering technology and chair of the mathematics and physics department at Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, where he led the continuous improvement plan to ensure the relevance, sustainability and growth of the programs in the electronics department, developed a hybrid automation/robotics course curriculum fusing online instruction and an in-person lab model, and served as the sole faculty member on the school’s President’s Advisory Council. In addition, he was selected for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experience for Teachers program to learn about Robotics and Controls at Texas A&M University and for the NSF-sponsored 20-hour “Revamping Robotics Education” workshop at Michigan Technological University, where he earned a certification as an instructor on the Fanuc industrial robot. 

Prior to entering the education field, Professor Giumarra spent almost a decade in science research and engineering, most recently at Janis Research Company, where he designed custom cryogenic vacuum systems based on experimental requirements; expanded system design to include options for automation, vibration isolation, optical testing, in-situ magnetic field testing, and an in-situ device-feature measurement system; and developed and constructed control circuits for low-temperature test systems.  

Professor Giumarra earned his master of science in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of Illinois in 2000. He lives in the greater Boston area and teaches in Boston and online. 

Dr. Umesh R. Hodeghatta

Umesh R. Hodeghatta, PhD, is an assistant teaching professor in the Analytics program. 

An engineer, a scientist and an educator, Dr. Hodeghatta specializes in analytics, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, and cyber security. Dr. Hodeghatta has more than 25 years of experience in technical and senior management positions at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Cisco Systems, McAfee, and Wipro. As a data scientist, he helps business leaders arrive at data-driven decisions linked to their organizations’ strategies and financial goals. He has served in numerous professional organizations and regulatory bodies—including as senior technical advisor to the Government of India. 

Dr. Hodeghatta previously served on the faculty of Kent State University in Ohio and the Xavier Institute of Management in Bhubaneswar, India, where he designed and taught courses. He was instrumental in setting up a high-speed optical network and data center with the integration of telephony and data in XUB. He has published in international journals and conference proceedings on topics ranging from “How to Build Chat-Bots Using Machine Learning and NLP” to “Can AI and Privacy Co-Exist?” Also, he is the author of two books: Business Analytics Using R: A Practical Approach and The InfoSec Handbook: An Introduction to Information Security published by Springer Apress. He also is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). 

Dr. Hodeghatta earned his master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from Oklahoma State University and his PhD from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur in 2015. He lives in the greater Boston area and teaches in Portland and Boston and online.

Megan Kennedy headshot

Dr. Megan Kennedy

Megan Kennedy, PhD, JD, is an assistant teaching professor in the Doctor of Law and Policy Program. 

Dr. Kennedy served for six years as assistant district attorney in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, working in both district and superior courts. As a criminal prosecutor, she focused primarily on cases of family violence and sexual assault, earning both the Spotlight Award and the District Court Prosecutor of the Year award.  

Dr. Kennedy joined Northeastern in 2018 as a lecturer in the Doctor of Law and Policy program, teaching courses on law and legal reasoning, research methods, qualitative methods and law and policy concepts. Her research interests include courts and the decision-making of court actors; victims of crime; policy and legal reform; and research methods. She has published articles on the processing of court cases, the harsh sentencing of juveniles, and the dynamics of misdemeanor plea bargaining. In her current role, she is responsible for the research methods curriculum, student thesis advising, and teaching. Her prior teaching roles include positions at Southern New Hampshire University and the State University of New York at Albany (UAlbany).  

Dr. Kennedy earned her law degree from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2002 and her PhD from the School of Criminal Justice of UAlbany in 2018. A member of the American Society of Criminology and the Law and Society Association, she is also licensed to practice law in Massachusetts. She lives in Seattle and teaches in Seattle and Boston and online.

Dan Koloski

Dan Koloski is professor of the practice in the Analytics program and director of professional studies at the Roux Institute at Northeastern University in Portland, Maine.

Professor Koloski joined Northeastern after spending more than 20 years in the IT and software industry, working in both technical and business management roles in companies large and small. This included application development, product management and partnerships, and helping lead a spin-out and sale from a venture-backed company to Oracle. Most recently, Professor Koloski was vice president of product management and business development at Oracle, where he was responsible for worldwide direct and channel go-to-market activities, partner integrations, product management, marketing/branding and mergers and acquisitions for more than $2 billion in product and cloud-services business. Before Oracle, he was CTO and director of strategy of the web business unit at Empirix, a role that included product management, marketing, alliances, mergers and acquisitions and analyst relations. He also worked as a freelance consultant and Allaire-certified instructor, developing and deploying database-driven web applications.

Professor Koloski’s previous work experience focused on the application of advanced analytical techniques to software testing, IT operations and cyber security. His teaching is focused on building the next generation of data citizens across the technical and business spectrum through delivery of technical and experiential education courses to graduate students. Professor Koloski directs the professional programs faculty team at the Roux Institute and delivers a variety of lifelong learning experiences for Northeastern industry partners.

Professor Koloski holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 2002. He lives in the greater Portland, Maine, area and teaches at the Roux Institute Portland campus and online.

Dr. Yvonne Leung

Yvonne Leung, PhD, is an assistant teaching professor in the Analytics program.

Dr. Leung previously served as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. She is also a scientist at the University Health Network, the largest research institute in Canada, where she designs and evaluates artificial intelligence (AI)-based psychosocial and supportive care services for cancer patients to improve quality of life and access to care. 

Dr. Leung has more than 15 years of experience in psychosocial and mental health research and has secured over C$880,000 in personal awards and research funding as a principal investigator and over half a million dollars as a co-investigator. She has published 39 peer-reviewed journal articles in psychosocial care and health services research. 

Currently, Dr. Leung is leading two projects using machine learning-based natural language processing algorithms to assist online support group therapists in tracking real-time participant progress and to develop Chatbot solutions for automated self-care support tailored to patients with metastatic breast cancer. Her expertise encompasses administrative databases, patient-reported outcomes, psychometrics, advanced statistical techniques including machine learning, trajectory analysis, latent structure analysis, and cluster analysis. She is also knowledgeable in qualitative analytic methods such as grounded theory and thematic and content analysis, as well as in interpretive descriptive methods. Among the courses she has taught are “Introduction to Statistics,” “Research Methods,” “Survey Methods,” and “Exploratory and Confirmatory Factor Analysis” to both healthcare professionals and senior analysts.

Dr. Leung earned her PhD in kinesiology and health science from York University in Toronto in 2011. She lives in the greater Toronto area and teaches at the Toronto campus and online.

Dr. Shanu Sushmita

Shanu Sushmita, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Analytics program.

Shanu Sushmita, who specializes in machine learning, data mining, information retrieval and health analytics, has worked for more than a decade as a researcher and teacher of computer science at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Most recently, she was an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma, School of Engineering and Technology, concurrently holding a faculty position in the Master’s in Business Analytics program at Milgard Business School at UW, Tacoma.

Previously, Dr. Sushmita was head of data science at KenSci, a Seattle healthcare company that provides AI platform for digital health and healthcare solutions. Her role included strategic planning, designing a vision for data science and managing a team of data and research scientists to demonstrate how healthcare payers and providers could use data and analytics to improve and standardize clinical care, reduce costs, achieve population health goals and make better strategic decisions for their organizations.

Dr. Sushmita’s research interests include applications of machine learning, information retrieval and utilizing data to improve user experience. In the course of her doctoral studies at the University of Glasgow, she taught courses in data science, analytics and natural language processing, and she has published on topics in healthcare, social media, artificial intelligence (AI) and information retrieval.

Dr. Sushmita holds a B.E in Computer Science from North Maharashtra University and a Ph.D. from the University of Glasgow in Computer Science. She lives in the greater Seattle area and teaches in Seattle and online.


Promoted Faculty

Congratulations to five faculty members of the College of Professional Studies who have been promoted. The following faculty members have been recognized for their excellence in teaching and curriculum development. Promotion also recognizes their contributions to the college and university through their leadership, service, educational innovation, discovery and professional engagement in their fields.

Dr. Christopher Bolick

Christopher Bolick, EdD, has been promoted to associate teaching professor in the project management program.

Dr. Bolick, who has served at Northeastern since 2013 as a part-time faculty member, as a full-time faculty member and currently as faculty leader, brings extensive experience with a Fortune 40 company in project management and business process improvement.

In his role as lead faculty for the project management programs, Dr. Bolick has worked to establish faculty onboarding as well as faculty mentoring and support, as the program has grown in size and quality across six regional campuses. He was one of the first faculty members to pilot livecast teaching from the Charlotte campus to Boston, and Project Management under his leadership was the first program to be fully mapped as competency-based, allowing further development at the modular level and opening the door to badging and stackability for students through prior learning assessments. He has also served as chair of the CPS Academic Programs Committee, which oversees and shepherds all new program and program changes across all academic areas in CPS.

Dr. Bolick has taught graduate courses including “Project Foundations,” “Project Cost & Scheduling,” “Project Evaluation,” “Special Topics,” and “Project Capstone” in addition to partnering with organizations in the nuclear, pharma and municipalities fields to assess workforce needs and deliver certificates, multi-day workshops and credit-bearing courses. He presented at the Project Management Institute’s 2018 Technology and Talent Symposium and has co-authored a chapter in the areas of artificial intelligence, data analytics, and digital transformation as related to project management practices.

Dr. Bolick earned his EdD from Northeastern University in 2020.

Dr. Kelly J. Conn

Kelly J. Conn, PhD, has been promoted to teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Conn has been a full-time faculty member since 2012. Informed by her previous career in laboratory science, she has developed and taught courses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education including “Current and Emerging Practices in STEM Education” and “National and International Benchmarks in STEM Education.”

Dr. Conn is currently collaborating on a project to develop and expand experiential learning in elementary and secondary school classrooms by creating curriculum for the Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning (NExT). In this role, Dr. Conn has developed and taught courses for the Graduate Certificate in Experiential Teaching and Learning and serves as faculty lead for the Master’s of Education program in Learning and Instruction. She also teaches in the Doctor of Education program and serves as dissertation chair to several students.

Dr. Conn coauthored a book commissioned by the College of Professional Studies, The Lowell Institute School at Northeastern University (2015), and was lead science consultant to the Abakhokeli Project, a joint science-teacher-training effort of Northeastern and South Africa’s Western Cape Education Department. She has also served as the regional lead faculty member for the EdD program in Hong Kong.

Dr. Conn currently serves as co-investigator of a multi-year National Science Foundation grant that explores experiential, industry-connected learning experiences for high school students to foster interest and preparation for STEM careers.

She earned her PhD in biochemistry from Boston University in 1999 and has done postdoctoral work in neuroscience.

Dr. Shaunna Harrington

Shaunna Harrington, PhD, has been promoted to teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Harrington teaches in the master’s programs in the Graduate School of Education, and also teaches and advises undergraduates in the PlusOne program, which allows students to begin working toward their Master of Arts in Teaching degree while completing their bachelor’s degree. She has taught courses on curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and on the history of K12 and higher education, and was the long-time faculty lead for the master’s programs foundation course, “Culture, Equity, Power and Influence.” Dr. Harrington has served on a variety of internal committees including the College of Professional Studies Joint Task Force on Faculty Workload and the Faculty Performance Review and Merit Pay Task Force. She currently serves as the board president for the Massachusetts affiliate of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Dr. Harrington began her career as a middle school social studies teacher in the Boston Public Schools and has continued to focus her teaching and activism on equity and justice education. She has been engaged in action research focused on teaching social justice in online settings and on deepening equity practices in teacher education. She also researches the history of education and has presented on a variety of topics from community schools created by Black parents and activists in Boston in the 1960s to American colonial education in the Philippines in the early 20th century. She served as a Humanities Scholar on the public history project, The Long Road to Justice, which documents how African Americans have sought racial justice in the Massachusetts courts.

Dr. Harrington earned her PhD in history at Northeastern in 2019.

Dr. Kristen Lee

Kristen Lee, EdD, has been promoted to teaching professor in the behavioral science programs.

Since her full-time appointment in 2013, Dr. Lee has taught courses including “Engaging Diversity and Difference,” “Stress and Its Management,” “Assessing your Leadership Capability,” “Group Dynamics and Interpersonal Conflict,” and has advanced Northeastern’s mission in a wide variety of ways. A pioneer in developing the college’s Experiential Network (XN) model and an innovator with the PlusOne stackable credential model, she is lead faculty member in behavioral science within the college’s Healthcare and Biotech domain, serves as faculty-in-residence in International Village, and earned the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award. Her leadership on mental health and resilience has significantly shaped the university’s approaches to supporting students.

Dr. Lee also serves as a Global Resilience Institute Faculty Affiliate. Active on campus and in the media as an advocate for global mental health, Dr. Lee is a frequent conference presenter and author. Her 2014 book, Reset: Make the Most of Your Stress: Your 24-7 Guide for Well-Being, won Motivational Book of the Year in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She is also the author of Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn What it Takes to Be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today’s World, and the upcoming Worth the Risk: How to Microdose Bravery to Grow Resilience, Connect More, and Offer Yourself to the World, and the Rethink Your Way to the Good Life column for Psychology Today. Her TEDx talk, “The Risk You Must Take” has been viewed more than 311,000 times.

A Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, Dr. Lee speaks and consults globally on resilience, has shared her expertise as a grant reviewer for U.S. federal agencies for more than two decades, and has spoken at more than 40 events across the university.

Dr. Lee earned her EdD in Organizational Leadership Studies at Northeastern in 2011.

Dr. Corliss Thompson

Corliss Thompson, PhD, has been promoted to teaching professor in the Graduate School of Education.

Since her full-time appointment in 2013, Dr. Thompson has taught research methods, research design, and social justice courses, including “Culture, Equity, Power, and Influence,” “Research Design,” and “Qualitative Research Methods.” Her work centers on her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and she has contributed significantly to the development of NExT, the Network for Experiential Teaching and Learning, serving as a panelist and creating materials and workshops.

Dr. Thompson is passionate about using culturally relevant and experiential approaches in her teaching and mentoring. She uses research methodology and program evaluation approaches for deeper understanding and improvement of teaching and learning and helps colleagues and students employ the same approach. Dr. Thompson is currently principal investigator on a 2019 National Science Foundation grant focused on experiential learning in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for high school students. She has also served on a number of committees in the College of Professional Studies and the university, such as the Provost Search Committee, and she presents on topics of diversity, equity and inclusion across the university and beyond.

Before becoming a faculty member, Dr. Thompson worked in a research and evaluation office in a school district in North Carolina and at the University of North Carolina, where she earned her doctoral degree. She also was an elementary school teacher in Charlotte and Chapel Hill, NC.

Dr. Thompson earned her PhD in Educational Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2013.

Graduation 2021

College honors master’s and doctoral graduates, citing ‘ingenuity and resilience’, with ceremonies that emphasize service, perseverance and experiential learning.

Doctoral Hooding

A doctoral candidate gets hooded by her advisor at the September 9 doctoral hooding and graduation ceremony at Matthews Arena.

The words of Brent Musson, (Doctor of Law and Policy ’20), captured the mood at the Doctoral Hooding and Graduation Ceremony of the College of Professional Studies in Matthews Arena Sept. 9—and at the Master’s Graduation Ceremony in the same location the following day: “Humanity at its best,” the 2020 Dean’s Medal recipient said in his remarks to the successful doctoral candidates, “is humanity in gratitude.”

Gratitude was in abundance both days as faculty, administrators, students and their families—as well as friends of the College worldwide via livestream—celebrated the graduates’ achievements in the face of extraordinary challenges. Speakers at the ceremonies praised the degree recipients for their perseverance in scholarship despite a global pandemic, their passionate commitment to learning and their determination to address real-world problems in their project-based learning and research.

‘Both humility and pride’

In his opening remarks on Sept. 9, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs David Madigan, Ph.D., welcomed the College of Professional Studies (CPS) community, expressed his faith in the graduates’ future success and his pride in their accomplishments and celebrated their membership in Northeastern’s “powerful knowledge network” dedicated to the dream of a more just and equitable society. He was followed at the podium by Interim Dean of CPS Dr. David Fields, who noted the unusual degree to which CPS students break down the barriers between work and learning.

“Our doctoral students are already fulltime professionals and leaders in their fields,” Dr. Fields observed. “In true Northeastern fashion, they are researching what they live, and living what they research, every day.”

Dr. Fields went on to explain the significance of the hooding ceremony—so-called because doctoral students traditionally have the hoods of their academic regalia lifted over their heads by faculty.

“The symbolism of the hooding ceremony at our doctoral commencement honors both the doctoral candidate’s work and the network of relationships that make that work possible,” Fields said. “[It] embodies both humility and pride, on both sides of the relationship, as faculty members welcome a new peer into their community.”

Faculty speaker Dr. Mounira Morris (B.S. ’91, M.S. ’95), assistant teaching professor and the co-lead for the Master of Education in Higher Education Administration program, offered her congratulations to the graduates and acknowledged the special challenges that had arisen during their studies, including the pandemic and the persistence of racial injustice. She quoted James Baldwin, noting his achievements as a playwright, novelist and civil rights activist: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

“To me,” Dr. Morris said, “this means that at times we will collectively endure hardship; however, we can use these experiences, especially as doctors, to offer wisdom, hope, and a better path forward.”

A longtime leader in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)—and currently working with colleagues at Northeastern to develop a new academic credential in DEI—Dr. Morris emphasized the power for good inherent in the attainment of an advanced degree, encouraging the graduates to find creative solutions to the challenges in their professions, communities and personal lives.

“We, as faculty,” she said, “ask that you take your research, and go out and change your world, your profession, your workplace and make it just a little bit better than before. We, as faculty, believe you can persevere and persist.  We know you can.”

Intellectual explorers

Dr. Musson, whose acceptance of the 2020 Dean’s Medal had been previously postponed due to Covid-19 precautions, suggested in his remarks that the attitude of an academic researcher is “not that of an author or maker, but rather that of an explorer.” He praised the selflessness and commitment of his peers and made a critical distinction between an undergraduate education—which, he said, “teaches a student how to learn”—and a graduate education, in which students learn “to use tools … to solve other people’s problems” and to create value, going “from inward-facing to outward-facing.”

He noted that, soon after a doctoral candidate’s academic journey begins, “we become acutely aware of what we’re signing up for; to spend the next few years engaged in the most rigorous intellectual exercise of our lives, to extract a single, pure, tiny drop of insight to ever-so-slightly raise the sea level of the ocean of human knowledge.”

And he described a moment of inspiration in what he termed a spiritual awakening: a street soccer game he had observed in West Africa more than a decade earlier, where, when a beautiful goal was scored, both teams celebrated. Drawing a parallel between the players’ selfless joy and the academic community he had found at Northeastern, Dr. Musson said, “These happy boys had purpose; and that purpose made them work together, against all odds to orchestrate a moment of greatness—a moment of pure, unselfish greatness.

“I’ve never circled a soccer field making wings with my arms,” he continued, “but research has made me part of our team, and this humbling honor is our winning goal.”

As Dr. Musson finished his speech, the audience rose to deliver a sustained standing ovation.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Dr. Madigan returned to the stage to offer closing remarks, praising the successful doctoral candidates for their “drive, dedication and sense of purpose.”

“The world is ever changing,” he said, “but you are prepared to meet—and conquer—its challenges.”

Master’s Ceremony

844 graduates across 28 programs walked the stage at the September 10 master’s degree graduation ceremony at Matthews Arena.

‘A day full of promise’

The following afternoon, Dr. Madigan returned to welcome master’s graduates to the arena on “a day full of promise.” He praised their “clear-eyed determination, discipline and hard work,” and offered special recognition to the faculty who, he said, by guiding the graduates to success, “have strengthened a legacy of knowledge and helped shape the future in scores of fields of professional endeavor.”

Following Dr. Madigan’s remarks, Dr. Fields spoke, celebrating the graduates’ global engagement and their cultivation of “the cultural competencies needed for a lifetime of contribution in a fast-paced, diverse, global society.” He went on to emphasize the benefits of their embrace of experiential learning, noting that in so doing, they had “addressed pressing, real-world problems” and become “well-prepared to lead from experience in the workplace.”

Dr. Fiona Creed, associate teaching professor and faculty director of the Global Studies and International Relations program, next introduced student speaker Ebony Small, ’21.

Reflecting on a year of adversity, Small observed “the pandemic itself could neither make nor break us” and asked graduates to consider the ways in which the challenges of the past 18 months had taught them to know their own courage, ambition, and steadfastness.

“We did not make it to this moment merely because we just-so-happened to survive a global pandemic,” Small said. “No, we made it here because we made the choice to value education and then fiercely pursued it. My dear friends and colleagues, despite the unexpected challenges of this year, we thrived. We grew. We changed.”

“This,” she concluded, “is what it looks like to turn a choice into a change. This is what it looks like to champion growth. Congratulations.”

From humble roots to world-renowned

Following an introduction by Dr. Earlene Avalon, associate professor and lead faculty for Health Administration and Health Sciences, graduation speaker Carl H. Whittaker, a philanthropist whose life path has spanned business, engineering and music, addressed the community.

A director of the Herb and Maxine Jacobs Foundation—which supports the College’s “A2M” or “Associates to Masters” program, offering an accelerated pathway from a community college associate’s degree to a bachelor’s at the College of Professional Studies and a master’s degree in Biotechnology at Northeastern’s College of Science—Whittaker began by invoking Northeastern’s origins as a vocational school offering evening classes, run by the YMCA.

“We all know that Northeastern is now a world-renowned university, highly ranked in many fields,” Whittaker said. “But inside this world-class institution is still the legacy of that 1898 night school.”

Whittaker linked this history with Northeastern’s emphasis on internship experiences, co-ops, and other programs that connect students to “great employers and great jobs.” He applauded the graduates for their effort and creativity in juggling jobs, families, and studies, urged them to embrace the role of mentor for other aspiring scholars, and invited them to fight income inequality—as his foundation does in part by supporting scholarships at Northeastern.

“I am inviting each of you to join my fight against economic inequality by encouraging at least one or two others to join you in earning an advanced degree,” Whittaker said. “Just be ready when you see a family member or neighbor who would value your guidance. Your friendly support might be thing that leads someone to a more prosperous and fulfilling life.”

The Doctoral Hooding and Master’s Ceremony were livestreamed from Matthews Arena. Click the links below to view recordings of the ceremonies.

Watch the Ceremonies

The Doctoral Hooding and Master’s Ceremony were livestreamed from Matthews Arena. Click the links below to view the graduation pages and watch recordings of the ceremonies.

Doctoral Hooding

Master’s Ceremony

Learn more about our programs

The Pandemic Made the CPS Class of 2021 Double Down and Remain Focused

The pandemic was remembered at the College of Professional Studies’ master’s degree graduation ceremony on Friday as a unifying force that bred a kind of resilience and flexibility that allowed students to bend, but not break, under the pressure of a global health crisis.