Northeastern Moves Over to the Northeast

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January 2013 will mark the opening of Northeastern University’s Seattle branch campus for graduate programs. This addition to the Seattle region’s educational institutions looks to be welcomed by the city and the would-be competing institutions.

This campus branch will be headed by Tayloe Washburn. He has lived in the Seattle area for about 35 years and been a lawyer for 29.
Washburn was approached by Northeastern University about their plans to establish a graduate campus in Seattle. After months of inquiry, he concluded that Northeastern is a high quality research institution with a terrific reputation and the research activities are in many of the innovative areas being implemented in the Seattle area and the university is providing additive academic capacity that the region needs.

Northeastern University was looking at 15 locations around the country for the location of their new campus and they studied the Seattle region for 18 months. Northeastern saw that, more than Atlanta, Austin or Silicon Valley, Seattle as cutting edge in tackling global issues and a core of innovation and entrepreneurial energy. These are values the university hopes to learn from.

With this Seattle campus, Northeastern hopes to establish a social compact of community involvement with Seattle, establish research collaboration and enroll working professionals in the graduate program to meet the needs of organizations in the region.

Interviews were conducted and many companies and organizations expressed need for certain high skill programs, which are not always adequately met by other institutions.
“When you put all our existing institutions together, we don’t produce enough graduates to meet the needs of the companies we have here in several areas such as health care and technology. That’s a problem,”
said Washburn.
Concerning competition with other institutions in the area, Washburn says “I don’t look at it that way at all. It’s an additive component. We’re providing additional capacity for areas where, for the most part, companies have to go outside of Washington and United States to get the talent they need.”

Marilyn Crone, vice president for enrollment management at Seattle University, also highlights the collaboration opportunities with Northeastern. She said that Seattle U does not see the new university as a competition for enrollment.
“We welcome Northeastern University to the academic community of Seattle and the Puget Sound region,” said Crone. “We look forward to opportunities to collaborate with them.”
Northeastern is not seeking to compete with the institutions in the area.
“The larger question is collaboration between institutions,” Washburn said. “Washington State University, Seattle University, Bellevue College, University of Washington and a number of others are working to come together and say, ‘Leaving our egos at the door, how do we, together, as institutions of Washington deal with this terrible gap for technology workers?”

There is a lack of competition between the institutions because programs offered at Northeastern differ drastically from those of Seattle U. The Northeastern programs are all geared toward working individuals looking for adding or achieving a graduate degree for the jobs that are in high demand in the Seattle area.
“Here our target audience is working professionals who either want to advance their career where they are or switch what they’re doing,” Washburn said. “Either way they need additional training. The beauty of this model is that whether you’re a working mom or just a real busy guy at any of the companies in our region, you can take any of our courses, get 80 percent of the content online, then come to our classroom at night or on the weekends.”

Seattle U is currently working within administration to enter the competitive arena of online education.
“Seattle University is preparing itself to step confidently and strategically in to the delivery of high caliber online or distance education in ways that are consistent with our identity as a Jesuit Catholic liberal arts institution,” Crone said.
“We recently hired someone to help guide our developing initiatives, Dr. Rick Fehrenbacher, the new Director of Continuing/Online and Professional Education.”

Currently the Professional Development/Continuing Education office offers post-baccalaureate credit for online courses with specific organizations like the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Veronica may be reached at [email protected]