Human Resources Management (HRM) of Northeastern announced to members of the faculty senate on Oct. 15 that there would be changes to the current healthcare and benefits available to Northeastern faculty and staff.
The announcement came during a period of open enrollment for benefits of faculty and staff. During this period, every participant in the current healthcare program is being asked to re-enroll.
Katherine Pendergast, vice president of HRM, addressed the senate on the upcoming changes, which were previewed on Oct. 1 by the Senate Agenda Committee.
“We will be making major investments in wellness programs to improve the health of faculty and staff, to support the collective good and to moderate the rate of rise of health insurance,” Pendergast said in a written statement on Oct.15.
Pendergast and HRM detailed the changes to the existing plan in an email to faculty and staff members on Oct. 22. The benefits include life, dental and health insurance as well as tuition benefits.
The current life insurance program will not change, and HRM will offer a plan similar to employees’ current existing dental plans, including a lower-cost option. There have also been no proposed or planned changes to the tuition benefits program.
The largest amount of change arises from the health insurance offered by the university with the new plan announced in September.
As stated by Pendergast, the Affordable Care Act is the driving force behind these changes. The act calls upon Northeastern and other universities to modify faculty and staff health plans or else be penalized for high cost plans.
“The Affordable Care Act has changed the landscape for health care and the plans that all universities can offer,” she said.
The university will maintain a 70 percent contribution to the core health plan and contribute the same fixed premium on other plans. Without the changes, the cost of university offered coverage would increase regardless by five to six percent.
The period for open enrollment ends Nov. 14 with changes to plans and benefits expected to go into effect Jan. 1, 2015.
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
President Aoun addressed members of the Student Government Association (SGA) Monday night, focusing on why members of the senate and the student body are the factors that are pushing the university forward.
Aoun prompted senate members to ask him about anything, from his history to the future of Northeastern. Senators soon asked him things ranging from what his typical day consists of to the negotiations regarding tenure of adjunct professors.
After freshman business administration major Samuel Gugliemotto asked Aoun about his daily life, Aoun focused the discussion on the importance and responsibilities of leadership, highlighting the need to to step back and reflect on issues at hand.
“Don’t lose sight that the issues du jour are not the future,” he said. “The future is important, and you need to think about the future as well.”
Aoun then addressed how co-op and innovation will be further expanded, which set the tone for the rest of the discussion.
Combining the importance of leadership with co-op, Aoun told students that the university and subsequent experiential learning program is evolving through student participation, acting as models to the outside world.
“Co-op is the ultimate form of personalization of your learning experience,” Aoun said. “You are the ones expanding co-op. Every time you impact the place [of work], you expand that place. You have a responsibility not only for you[rself], but you are the trailblazers for your successors.”
Despite the emphasis on the power of co-op for students on a personal level and at a university level, Aoun noted that leadership should not be taken for granted, but should be continuously perfected and expanded upon .
“You’re modeling the place for the outside world,” he said.
Transitioning into his recently announced global officer co-op position, Aoun has noted his main mission behind his presidency and also his co-op: to move the university into the global realm.
“We’re only beginning to look at the global opportunities,” Aoun said. “The world moves fast, and essentially the idea is to have a pioneer from the university to look at global opportunities, opportunities we haven’t thought about.”
Aoun also noted that the rise in rankings, stating that the university has a mission of education as well of a mission of knowledge creation and that rankings often address different aspects of each. He also mentioned that not all universities can fit one mold, and at Northeastern, there cannot be a concrete strategy to improve rankings, but instead continue with what the university does best.
Aoun did state that differentiation, as an individual and as a school, is an effective strategy for advancement.
“The strategy has to capture first who you are and how you can better that,” Aoun said. “We’re always on this journey, whether students or institutions. We don’t stay still. We never copy others. If we copy others then we’ll be a bad copy of others.”
Harkening back to the importance of co-op, Aoun noted that the cooperative education approach and global engagement makes an enormous difference in the educational environment. He told members that he could blatantly notice the difference between Northeastern’s approach to education compared to his sons’ educations at more traditionally defined institutions.
“I interact with students at other universities and I see the difference,” he said. “It’s a different community and I see the community engagement.”
Henry Bison, a sophomore behavioral neuroscience major, broke away from the topic of co-op and engagement, asking Aoun if he will bargain in good faith the adjunct professor union as adjuncts strive to gain tenure.
Aoun stated that due to the unionization of the adjuncts, all negotiations must go through the union, all of which are in good faith.
Jameson Johnson, a freshman communications major stated that throughout the address, Aoun did not address every question properly or with clarity.
“He was acting like we were all going to exploit him,” Johnson said. “Everything he talked about was very surface level. I know he has great intentions for the school and works very hard, but he did not share any surprising or helpful information.”
Aoun closed his address discussing the characteristic of Northeastern students, a question asked by Gary Lu, a junior accounting major.
“You cannot come to Northeastern and be oblivious,” Aoun said. “You explore yourself by exploring the world.”
Referencing the number of student-run initiatives, he called students multifaceted and entrepreneurial.
“What that means is the students don’t play it safe here and that’s enormous,” he said. “I want you to create your own journey and that’s the beauty of being here.”
SGA President Noah Carville, a senior economics major, noted that he was most struck by Aoun’s reinforcement of the importance of leaving free time in ones schedule to interact with the community and surrounding world.
“Between classes and homework and SGA, it is easy to put your head down and get lost in your own busy work,” Carville said in an Oct. 29 email to The News after the address. “But as student leaders, we have a responsibility to serve the students around us, and that is only possible when we set aside enough free time to get out into the community and discover what the students actually need.”
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
Director of the School of Journalism and Pulitzer prize winner, Stephen D. Burgard, died while on sabbatical at the Harvard Divinity School. His death was announced by Bruce Ronkin, the interim dean of the College of Arts Media and Design, in an email to faculty and students.
Burgard, a resident of Arlington, died Sunday at Massachusetts General Hospital due to a lung ailment, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. He was 66 years old.
“As Director of the School of Journalism, Steve oversaw the maturation of a nationally respected program,” Ronkin said. “As an academic leader in the new college, Steve helped draft the CAMD governance documents and worked with his colleagues to help build a new college where media would become one of its key strengths.”
Before joining the Northeastern faculty in 2002, Burgard served 26 years as a newspaper editor and reporter. Working at the L.A. Times from 1996 to 2002, Burgard led the editorial page of the paper, covering the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles.
In 1994, he received a Pulitzer Prize for the Times’ coverage of the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Burgard published two books exploring the topic of politics and religion, “Hallowed Ground” (1997) and “Faith, Politics and Press In Our Perilous Times” (2010), an issue he also covered in the 2000 presidential campaign.
Dan Kennedy, associate professor of journalism with a focus on multimedia and digital journalism, first met Burgard in the late 90s while Burgard was working at the L.A. Times and Kennedy was the media columnist for the Boston Phoenix. The two struck up a correspondence that lasted until Kennedy decided to return to Northeastern as a professor.
“He was a really great supporter of mine and a great mentor,” Kennedy said. “He was always somebody I could go to for advice.”
Burgard planned to return from sabbatical this spring semester and continue his directorship before resuming his faculty position. Kennedy stated that Burgard did not want another long stint as director and would remain in the position only until a replacement was found. The School of Journalism had begun the search process for a new director before Burgard’s death.
Burgard graduated from Brown University in 1970 and received his Master’s from Boston University’s College of Communications in 1976. From 1971-73, Burgard served as a member of the US Navy aboard the U.S.S. Little Rock in the Sixth and Second Fleets in the public affairs office.
In the Buckingham Browne & Nichols fall bulletin from 2010, a K-12 day school in Cambridge where Burgard graduated from high school in 1966, Burgard was profiled to have fallen in love with journalism while aboard the Little Rock. He even produced a radio and closed circuit television news show for the 900 person crew, as reported by Peter DeMarco.
His interest in media translated to his tenure at Northeastern, including changing the curriculum to keep with current digital journalism trends and bringing new professors to the school who, as stated by Lincoln McKie, director of the editorial lab in the School of Journalism, are on the cutting edge of new media and journalism.
Mike Beaudet, a professor of the practice in the School of Journalism, met Burgard as a graduate student at Northeastern before returning to the school to teach.
“During my graduate studies at Northeastern, I saw firsthand Steve’s passion for journalism and his belief that journalists hold a critically important role in a democratic society, but also have an enormous responsibility to the public they serve,” Beaudet said in an email to the News. “Steve felt strongly about journalism education and its need to evolve with the changing field, and because of that he left a significant mark on the School of Journalism. He was always very approachable and down-to-earth and I will certainly miss his laid-back, but encouraging way of interacting with people.”
Nicholas Daniloff, who retired this year from Northeastern, was director of the school until 1999 when Burgard replaced him. He noted that another significant achievement of Burgard’s was the relationship he created with the university.
“As director, he was always very friendly, upbeat and a very good leader,” Daniloff said. “One of the important things he did was to establish good relationship with the higher-ups and continue the work on educating them on what journalists do. I think he did a great deal to bolster the reputation of the School of Journalism within the university.”
A point reiterated by many of his colleagues was Burgard’s commitment to his family. Both Susan Conover, the journalism school’s administrative coordinator, and McKie noted Burgard’s strong parenting. McKie noted that there “was no better dad than Steve,” and his approach to parenting and advice defined him.
“One of the most important characteristics for me about Steve was the fact he was a family man,” Conover said in an email to the News. “He never hesitated if I had a family issue. He always said family comes first. He raised three terrific kids, a real testament of his family values. Steve will be missed. But I am honored to have known him.”
Burgard is survived by his children Helen Burgard, 26, of Lexington, Andrew Burgard, 20 of Claremont, and Patrick Burgard, 18 of Lexington; sister Beth Dater-Jennings of Greenwich, Conn.; half-siblings Chris Snow of Provincetown and Robyn Snow of Brewster and his former wife Sharon Burgard.
“My dad was a man of outstanding work ethic and poise – attributes which he spent every day trying to impart on his children,” Patrick Burgard said in an email to the News.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
President Aoun earned the René Moawad Foundation (RMF) Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award at a gala in Washington over the weekend. The award served to recognize his outstanding contributions to education.
The gala and preceding award is presented every year to an influential member of the Lebanese-American community.
“When I was recruited as faculty and then recruited as president, no one asked where you are from,” Aoun said at the gala on Oct. 17.
Aoun was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1953 and took his first education position at the University of California as a linguistics professor in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences in 1982.
The RMF is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that promotes sustainable human development in Lebanon. The organization was created in 1990 by Nayla Moawad in the name of her late husband, the one-time president of Lebanon who was assassinated in 1989.
Aoun was introduced by Victoria Kennedy, the widow of Ted Kennedy, whose family was originally from Zgharta in North Lebanon.
“When I first met our honorary, it was in 2006,” Kennedy said at the gala. “I was at an event with the newly installed president of Northeastern University… When he spoke, I heard a hint of music of Lebanon in his voice, and he immediately won me over in a second.”
Kennedy highlighted that Aoun has transformed education at Northeastern through his focus on global and experiential learning.
“Under his administration, Northeastern students have worked, studied and conducted research in 121 countries on all seven continents,” Kennedy said. “His students are prepared to live in a globally connected world.”
In his acceptance speech, Aoun noted his obligations to both the US and Lebanon.
“Our goal is very simple,” Aoun said. “ We must stand ready to give back science. Research and technology are a must. That’s what we can give back.”
Nick Naraghi, a senior business administration major, finance & insurance, has worked with Aoun during his time as Student Government Association president and in Northeastern’s venture accelerator, IDEA.
“From my experience in student government and IDEA, our student-led venture accelerator, I have worked alongside President Aoun and seen the direct impact of his leadership at his time with Northeastern,” Naraghi said in an email to the News. “Our university would not be where it is without him.”
Concluding his statement, Aoun called on Lebanese people all over the world to “redefine their role and contribute to Lebanon’s education and technical advancement,” as stated in a press release from RMF on Oct. 17.
“Your success and achievements have brought pride and honor to Lebanon,” Antoine Chedid, Lebanese ambassador to the US, said at the event.
This piece was originally published y the Huntington News.
Northeastern now boasts the only science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program in the country after receiving the First in the World grant from the Department of Education (DoE). Last week, Northeastern’s Lowell Institute School and College of Professional Studies was recognized as one of 24 recipients of the First in the World Grant from DoE, holding the third largest award in the grant program.
“It’s really exciting,” John LaBrie, the dean of the College of Professional Studies (CPS), said. “The grant was highly competitive and there were over 500 applicants.”
The First in the World Program provides grants to promote the development of innovative educational programs and make college tuition more affordable for both students and families. The program was set in motion by President Barack Obama with a goal for the US to be a world leader in the proportion of citizens holding degrees or postsecondary credentials by 2020.
“The First in the World grant competition is a key part of President Obama’s agenda to foster innovative ideas that help keep college affordable, increase quality and improve educational outcomes for our students,” US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a press release. “The department is proud to support the wide range of innovation at colleges and universities across the nation that can dramatically enhance student outcomes.”
As stated by LaBrie, part of the reason Northeastern was a competitive candidate in the application process was because of a $4 million gift from the Lowell Institute, a charitable foundation established in 1836 that supports free public lectures and educational opportunities within the greater Boston area. The Lowell Institute also created the Lowell Institute School which was originally based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until it moved to Northeastern in 1996.
The money provided by the Institute comes with the stipulation that it must be focused towards bolstering STEM education.
“I’m an attorney by training, but I am a trustee at the Museum of Science,” William Lowell, the trustee of the Lowell Institution as well as the co-chair of the wealth management group at Choate, Hall & Stewart, said. “Through my own involvement [at the Museum], I’ve been educated through the fact that to a certain extent there has been an underemphasis on STEM education in our education system.”
The combination of awards totaling $7.9 million, has focused on efforts to both promote STEM education as well as promote education amongst adult students primarily trying to complete their degrees and move from a two to four-year institution.
Both LaBrie and Lowell agree that a focus on STEM is essential to pushing the US to the forefront of the world economy and STEM associated fields.
“The US has not been producing enough STEM graduates in over a decade,” LaBrie said. “[The nation] needs more and more graduates in STEM fields. That’s the case here in Massachusetts and nationally. Couple that with those who want to continue their education and have other obligations, the options for them are very limited.”
Guido Wilfred Lopez, a CPS professor of engineering, is optimistic for the future of STEM education both at Northeastern and in its relation to the economy and industry.
“We’re falling behind as a nation,” Lopez said. “We want to respond to the needs of the industry in the areas of science, engineering, technology and mathematics, and having the funds obviously helps not only to develop curriculum but also infrastructure to teach.”
Lopez highlights the need for a focus on hands on education. He personally plans to develop his research, which is focused on nanotechnology and renewable energy, in an effort to develop both professionally and expose his students to needed learning experiences.
“Education is a very novel kind of activity,” Lopez said. “I enjoy educating the future generations of engineers. Although engineering is considered to be a challenging area, anybody with willingness to dedicate themselves to this can achieve it.”
Along with LaBrie, Lopez notes the need to focus on not only adult students wishing to continue their degree, but also minority populations and women, both under-represented populations in the STEM fields
“This is going to be an opportunity as a teacher to demonstrate that these areas are open to everybody,” Lopez said.
LaBrie hopes that the growing STEM focus at Northeastern will set up a national dialogue, to promote both education and economic focus that will eventually be replicable by other institutions.
“The ability for an institution like Northeastern to create innovative new structures and to address this issue within our economy and society is a very important factor,” LaBrie said.
This piece was originally published by the Huntington News.
Chronicling my journalistic endeavors.
All ocean conservation/biodiversity posts are my own original thoughts. All other posts are my work for other publications.