Synergy in Seattle

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun told Seattle-​​area industry, edu­ca­tion and polit­ical leaders Wednesday night that the university’s new grad­uate campus in the city’s South Lake Union sec­tion will create a syn­ergy with the region that lever­ages their com­bined strengths and cre­ates solu­tions to regional and global challenges.

Aoun served as the keynote speaker at the Seattle Regional Lead­er­ship Con­fer­ence 2012 on the first night of the three-​​day event, spon­sored by the Seattle Met­ro­pol­itan Chamber of Commerce.

“We are begin­ning to see pro­found shifts in higher edu­ca­tion,” Aoun said. “Due to tech­nology and other inno­va­tions, we are moving from a ver­ti­cally inte­grated enter­prise to a hor­i­zontal enter­prise. This has many impli­ca­tions for higher edu­ca­tion and for society as a whole.”

More and more, Aoun added, insti­tu­tions must show clear mea­sures of out­comes that dif­fer­en­tiate them and prove their value in this changing landscape.

“In this new envi­ron­ment, the insti­tu­tions that will suc­ceed are those that can be nimble, entre­pre­neurial and strategic,” said Aoun, whose lead­er­ship in higher edu­ca­tion includes his role as board chair of the Amer­ican Council on Edu­ca­tion . “The new leaders will be those that can find syn­ergy between their areas of exper­tise and the locales in which they choose to operate.”

To meet these chal­lenges, North­eastern has launched a system of grad­uate cam­puses across the U.S., starting with Char­lotte, N.C., and Seattle, where a new grad­uate campus will open early next year. These cam­puses incor­po­rate a hybrid delivery model com­bining class­room and online learning with a focus on degree pro­grams tai­lored to meet the needs of the local economy and leverage industry collaborations.

In selecting Seattle, North­eastern rec­og­nized the city’s inno­v­a­tive employers and strong economy. The grad­uate campus will offer 15 tai­lored degree pro­grams that align with Seattle’s key indus­tries and employers, including sci­ence and tech­nology; health care and edu­ca­tion; policy and admin­is­tra­tion; and business.

The grad­uate campus system dove­tails with Northeastern’s sig­na­ture experiential-​​education model, grounded in its co-​​op pro­gram, Aoun said, adding that today stu­dents are working in 92 coun­tries for nearly 3,000 employers worldwide.

Aoun said Northeastern’s areas of lead­er­ship align with Seattle’s industry strengths. He pointed to the city’s con­cen­tra­tion of STEM (sci­ence, tech­nology, engi­neering and math­e­matics) indus­tries and the university’s com­mit­ment to STEM-​​related degree pro­grams. He went on to draw a com­par­ison between Northeastern’s focus on research in global health, tech­nology, defense and sus­tain­ability and Seattle’s rep­u­ta­tion as the epi­center of research, schol­ar­ship and com­merce in those same areas.

Northeastern’s com­mit­ment to building an inno­v­a­tive and exten­sive library of pro­fes­sional master’s pro­grams, he added, matches the push in Seattle to increase the number of people in the region to attain grad­uate degrees.

Aoun said this match has already pro­duced a part­ner­ship between Northeastern’s Global Health Ini­tia­tive and Seattle Biomed to develop new drugs to fight neglected trop­ical diseases.

“What we seek to achieve is a real rela­tion­ship, a mean­ingful part­ner­ship and an alliance that unites us in common cause in ways that not only strengthen each other, but the entire com­mu­nity,” Aoun said.