A Seattle branch campus for Northeastern University offers welcome help boosting the ranks of residents with graduate degrees.
Northeastern University’s expansion into Seattle is noteworthy, chiefly for its potential to broaden the pipeline of local talent in science, technology, engineering and math fields.
A branch campus thousands of miles from Northeastern’s Boston roots is an astute read of this area’s labor needs.
The private, nonprofit university’s plan to offer only graduate-degree programs in Seattle fills a niche for industries looking for employees with advanced degrees. The Puget Sound region has one of the largest concentrations of residents with bachelor’s degrees, but only 13 percent of local professionals have graduate degrees.
This region does not measure up well against the rest of the country. In 2008, Washington ranked 42nd among all states in advanced-degree production — 8.4 graduate degrees per 1,000 residents. But the national average is 12.8 such degrees per 1,000 residents.
Seattle Times higher education reporter
When he visited Seattle last week, the president of Northeastern University took pains to explain why the Northwest’s largest city — some 2,500 miles and three times zones away — was a logical site for a private research institution in Boston to open a branch campus.
“Why Seattle?” asked Joseph Aoun. “Because we like the fact that Seattle is a very vibrant urban center. It has industries that are very prominent, industries of the future.”
In January, Northeastern University will open a storefront campus across the street from one of Amazon’s many South Lake Union sites, in the same building as the Institute for Systems Biology. It will offer only graduate-degree programs, taught both online and on-site.
Northeastern’s move — it also has opened a branch campus in Charlotte, N.C. — has created a bit of a buzz among education watchers.
Colleges and universities rarely open branches clear across the country, said Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed, an online news source that covers the higher-education industry. The Boston school, a 114-year-old nonprofit university, is well-known for studying its markets closely, Jaschik said.
Branch campuses are very expensive to open and “not easy to pull off — but, knowing Northeastern, they’re very big on studying markets, so they have done a calculation that makes sense,” he said.
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Fight or flight choices are about survival. Knowing when it’s best to make a tactical retreat and when it’s time to fight is baked into our genes. Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun’s strategic investments illustrate the advantage of fighting while others are fleeing – in some cases.
Sometimes the Only Viable Defense is Offense
During the American Civil War, General Joshua Chamberlain was told to hold the end of the Union line on Little Round Top at Gettysburg “at all costs.” If he and his forces did not, the Confederate army would overrun the entire Union army. So they held. They held through multiple attacks and ever-mounting causalities. They held until they had exhausted their ammunition. Then they could hold no longer. So they attacked. Their bayonet charge resulted in 101 prisoners and the retreat of the Confederate forces they faced.
The Northeastern Advance
The economic troubles of the past several years have hit universities hard. With endowments and fundraising in decline and costs rising, many universities have been forced to slash and burn their offerings or even shutter completely.
Aoun faced those same issues, and the same fight or flight dilemma. Aoun chose to fight. “We are not retrenching.” Instead, he chose to leverage Northeastern’s strengths and invest to grow, particularly in its renowned internship program, faculty and facilities.
Getting from college to a paycheck is a big worry for young adults; in 2011, only 18% of college grads had job offers by the end of April before graduation, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
That’s lending new appeal to a century-old college program long disdained by elite schools as “vocational education” – the co-op plan.
Students in co-op programs alternate classroom courses with several months’ paid or unpaid work related to their major, earning college credit from the experience. Students often need five years to graduate from co-op programs, but universities that offer them say co-op grads get job offers at a rate well above average, and applicants are beating a path to their doors. Such programs are especially hot in a tight job market where employers are less likely to take a chance on inexperienced graduates or to offer on-the-job training.
A Boston-area private research university will open a satellite campus in South Lake Union in January, school officials announced Tuesday.
Northeastern University-Seattle will offer graduate programs in 15 areas, all related to science, technology, health care, business, education, policy and administration, according to a news release. It will be share a space at 401 Terry Ave. N. with the Institute for Systems Biology.
Northeastern University, a non-profit, private research university based in Boston, plans to open a campus in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood in 2013. To generate buzz in anticipation of its arrival, it has taken to the streets with a bright red advertisement wrapped around a South Lake Union Streetcar announcing Northeastern University – Seattle.
With a new Seattle-based Northeastern University campus just weeks away from its official leases, new hires and a splashy new marketing plan, Tayloe Washburn enjoys watching the project rapidly take shape.
“I’m having a great time every day,” said Washburn, a prominent Seattle attorney and civic leader who recently took the helm of the region’s newest graduate-level university.
Northeastern plans to offer graduate classes in Seattle early next year in engineering, energy systems, computer science and other fields — with a goal of training the talent that the region’s technology and science industries crave.
Seattle imports high-tech talent, and Boston exports. So it makes sense that one of the big players in Boston’s competitive higher education market, Northeastern University, would see a new niche opening up across the country, where it can help feed a fast-growing high-tech cluster with more brainpower.
Northeastern, a 114-year-old private institution with 20,500 full-time students, has been working for almost two years to build out a network of regional graduate schools in underserved higher education markets, starting with Charlotte, NC and Seattle. No one would call Boston “underserved” by higher education, as it’s the home of Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Boston College, Tufts University and more. But in Seattle, where companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and others can’t seem to get enough people with advanced degrees in high-tech disciplines, Northeastern has spotted a void it thinks it can fill.
Prominent attorney and civic leader Tayloe Washburn has left the Foster Pepper law firm to head a new Seattle branch of Boston’s Northeastern University.
Northeastern plans to offer graduate classes in Seattle later this year in engineering, energy systems, computer science and other fields — with a mission to pump out talent to feed the region’s cutting-edge industries.
Northeastern received license approval this week from the Washington state Higher Education Coordinating Board to become the state’s first private research university.
Northeastern University is continuing to push forward with its graduate school in Seattle, announcing today that it plans to open this fall. The Boston-based university, which opened a similar branch in Charlotte, North Carolina last year, also tapped Seattle attorney Tayloe Washburn as CEO and dean of the new campus.
Washburn most recently served as senior adviser to Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire on the successful effort to secure the Boeing 737 MAX production in the state. Before that, the University of Washington grad served as managing partner with the Seattle law firm of Foster Pepper.
Northeastern announced its plans to open in Seattle last fall, saying at the time that it picked the region because of its strong technology community.