New aca­d­emic resources and infra­struc­ture, an unprece­dented finan­cial aid invest­ment, fac­ulty hiring, and stu­dent life enhance­ments were among the uni­ver­sity accom­plish­ments Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice pres­i­dent for aca­d­emic affairs, pre­sented to the Fac­ulty Senate on Wednesday that demon­strate Northeastern’s improve­ment and growth in recent years.

Director high­lighted a con­tinued increase in incoming stu­dent appli­ca­tions, along with average SAT scores for the newest freshman class and the reten­tion rate for first-​​year stu­dents rising to 1390 and to 96 per­cent, respec­tively, in the last year.

The quality of the stu­dents keeps going up,” Director told the Senate at its first meeting of the aca­d­emic year.

He also noted that North­eastern is pro­viding an unprece­dented $204 mil­lion in insti­tu­tional grant aid in the 2013–14 aca­d­emic year, the largest finan­cial aid invest­ment in the university’s his­tory and a 9 per­cent increase from the pre­vious aca­d­emic year.

Director pointed to a range of efforts aimed at enriching aca­d­emic life on campus. He said the Uni­ver­sity Scholars pro­gram launched last year, for example, retained all 42 scholars from its inau­gural class and this year the pro­gram has grown to 130 scholars. The full-​​tuition schol­ar­ship pro­gram attracts the highest quality high school stu­dents from around the country and the world and pro­vides these high-​​achieving stu­dents with the ability to design a tai­lored pro­gram to advance their aca­d­emic goals, entre­pre­neurial ideas, and career ambitions.

They are pushing us to be even better as an under­grad­uate insti­tu­tion,” he said.

Director also empha­sized Northeastern’s con­tinued com­mit­ment to hiring excep­tional fac­ulty mem­bers. This fall, the uni­ver­sity met its long-​​range plan’s goal of increasing the number of tenured and tenure-​​track fac­ulty to 780.

Our goal is to make sure we are hiring the most out­standing fac­ulty we can,” Director said. “They drive the rep­u­ta­tion of the uni­ver­sity both nation­ally and internationally.”

He noted there have also been numerous infra­struc­ture improve­ments to enhance the stu­dent expe­ri­ence. These include addi­tional class­room space and tech­nology upgrades, the newly ded­i­cated Arnold S. Gold­stein Sim­u­la­tion Lab­o­ra­to­ries Suite, Snell Library’s first floor ren­o­va­tions, new dining options at Inter­na­tional Vil­lage, and the field hockey team’s new facility in Dedham, Mass.

Later in the meeting, Susan Ambrose, senior vice provost for under­grad­uate edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­en­tial learning, told the Senate that North­eastern will con­tinue to evolve the university’s sig­na­ture co-​​op pro­gram, par­tic­u­larly to empha­size the impor­tance of work-​​based learning.

It is the com­bi­na­tion of the aca­d­e­mics and co-​​op, and stu­dents can take those things and begin to explore, inte­grate, and begin to learn on the job so they can not only even­tu­ally get that first job but also be pre­pared for the jobs and career changes they’ll have in their pro­fes­sional lives,” Ambrose said.

The uni­ver­sity had nearly 8,000 co-​​op place­ments last year, and stu­dents are working, studying, and con­ducting research through experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­ni­ties in 93 coun­tries worldwide.

In his opening remarks at the meeting, Senate Agenda Com­mittee chairman Richard Day­nard, Uni­ver­sity Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Law, said he’s looking for­ward to the senate’s work ahead this year.

I like the fact that the mem­bers of the Senate are inter­spersed, which is a first in my expe­ri­ence here and I think sym­bol­i­cally is very nice,” he said.