Provost addresses students, speaks of change

By By Anne Baker, News Staff

Provost Stephen Director took a page out of newly-inaugurated President Barack Obama’s book Tuesday night, preaching change to the group of about 50 students who gathered in the Curry Student Center Ballroom to hear him speak.
‘I also want to point out that Northeastern University is not new to change,’ the provost said, pointing to Northeastern’s history as a regional commuter school.’ ‘We’re a university. One of the things we like to do as a university is to investigate things.’
During his address, Director touched on some of the key issues facing Northeastern students:’ the university’s financial situation, the future of Northeastern’s co-op program and the possible restructuring of the colleges of Criminal Justice and Arts and Sciences.
The speech and subsequent discussion was part of the Council for University Programs (CUP)’s second annual ‘Eye to Eye’ series. Last year’s discussion featured President Joseph Aoun.
Director, speaking for the first time directly to students about the restructuring of the Colleges of Criminal Justice and Arts and Sciences, said no decision has been made about their future. He added that students will have opportunities to interact with the ad-hoc committee charged with weighing the pros and cons of the colleges’ restructure.
‘It will take time for us to take any kind of action,’ the provost said. ‘It’s not going to be done quickly.’
Former CUP member Garrett Marques said he would have liked to hear Director speak more specifically about the committee’s actions.
‘I would have liked a little bit more of a definitive answer about what the committees [are] dealing with the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Criminal Justice,’ Marques said. ‘I believe they have an idea of where they would like to bring those colleges, it’s just not definitive yet and I would have liked to hear those ideas.’
Vice-provost Mary Loeffelholz, chair of the committee, also briefly spoke, and announced two upcoming open meetings for College of Criminal Justice and Arts and Sciences students on Feb. 20 and Feb. 23. She was at Tuesday’s meeting along with other senior vice presidents to help Director answer questions to which he did not know the answer.
Director said that while other colleges were mulling restructuring plans due to economic concerns, those concerns had little effect on his decision to form the ad-hoc committee. Though Northeastern has taken a small hit economically, other schools have fared much worse because of their endowment dependence ‘- one of the few silver linings in running a tuition-based university, he joked.
Director also spoke about co-op, saying the nation’s economic downturn has had little effect on the current co-op cycle.
‘At this point in time, we haven’t seen the change in the economy affect our co-ops,’ he said.
‘ Ninety-nine percent of those seeking co-op for the current cycle had been placed, he said. However, Director did not discuss specific plans to keep job rates high for future cycles. He also mentioned the university’s intention to examine the possibility of adding a four-year program that includes co-op. This, he said, would allow the five-year program to remain how it is, but offer a shorter option as well.
After the speech, Director answered questions from students, ranging from the format of students’ diplomas to funding for the behavioral neuroscience program.
Following the event, Director declined to comment to The News, saying he felt previous coverage had been ‘inaccurate.’
Janet Actis, vice president of collaborations for CUP, said she felt the event was successful.
‘I know he’s talking with students,’ she said. ‘He’s really reaching out to students more.’
But as he took to the podium at the beginning of the event, he warned students they were not in for the most exciting of times.
‘I’m not the comedian,’ he said.

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