Northeastern’s grad­uate campus ini­tia­tive is about cre­ating sus­tain­able part­ner­ships with com­mu­ni­ties around the country—the under­lying theme sounded by Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun at an event last week held at the university’s recently opened grad­uate campus in Seattle.

Addressing more than three dozen of Wash­ington state’s leaders in research, health­care, higher edu­ca­tion, and gov­ern­ment, Aoun spoke of the “social com­pact” between uni­ver­si­ties and their com­mu­ni­ties: In return for com­mu­nity sup­port, uni­ver­si­ties must devote their aca­d­emic mis­sion to the growth and bet­ter­ment of their communities.

That is the promise North­eastern is making to Seattle, Aoun said. “Our grad­uate campus here is a 50-​​year invest­ment,” he said, refer­ring to the university’s com­mit­ment to a long-​​term partnership.

The out­lines of that part­ner­ship are iden­tical in Seattle and in Char­lotte, N.C., the university’s first grad­uate campus loca­tion: grad­uate degree pro­grams in high-​​demand fields and thoughtful research and edu­ca­tional col­lab­o­ra­tions, all aimed at helping advance regional eco­nomic devel­op­ment goals.

Research part­ner­ships topped the agenda at the Feb. 19 event. The speakers—including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray; Dr. Larry Corey, pres­i­dent and director of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; and Elson S. Floyd and Michael K. Young, the pres­i­dents, respec­tively, of Wash­ington State Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Washington—affirmed the Puget Sound region’s need for more research and edu­ca­tional capacity and rec­og­nized Northeastern’s value in both spheres.

The areas for poten­tial partnership—in Big Data com­puting, the life sci­ences and biotech­nology, and global health—are dynamic fields that are markers of the world’s rapid tran­si­tion to a dig­ital economy, Aoun said.

They are also chal­lenges for the region and its higher edu­ca­tion com­mu­nity, said Tayloe Wash­burn, dean and CEO of Northeastern’s Seattle grad­uate campus, to ensure that the state has a work­force pre­pared to thrive in those emerging fields.

This was the third of three events that the campus hosted to mark its opening in Seattle’s vibrant South Lake Union neighborhood.

In mid-​​January, Northeastern’s grad­uate campus in Seattle wel­comed more than 600 vis­i­tors at an open house to show­case the 28 grad­uate degree pro­grams it is offering through a hybrid model that merges online and on-​​campus learning.

In December, the campus hosted rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 50 top area busi­nesses to net­work and explore co-​​op employer rela­tion­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tions with Northeastern’s career ser­vices office.