It has been a week since we re-opened the academic and administrative offices at D'Amore-McKim. It has been great to reconnect with colleagues in person and have socially distanced meetings; sometimes out in the open, under the sun.

Of course, our new office life looks different, with sparse physical presence due to density protocols. With significant virtual collaboration happening in our faculty/staff community, we now live in a truly convergent world – one that was unimaginable six months ago. COVID-19 has accelerated our move into the future. The next few months will help us figure out what work functions benefit from being physically present on-campus so we can re-configure the office of the future, but so far the first week back has been a testament to our adaptability as a workforce and our ability to serve our communities without disruption.

We've done so much!

While we're looking forward to welcoming students back to our classrooms and residence halls in a couple of weeks, it's time for us to celebrate the tremendous amount of good work that was accomplished by our faculty and staff over the past several months while in quarantine. For instance, we've enhanced our research visibility through intellectual contributions; select faculty teams have been busy working on innovative pedagogical assignments (stay tuned!); and faculty and staff have been part of task forces created to prepare for the fall. On the entrepreneurial front, we have made great strides in terms of experiential engagement opportunities (more about this in a subsequent post).

Most of the time, we are highly focused in our individual corners of the sandbox; so I wanted to share a few specific outstanding accomplishments:  

  • Three days before our university went 100% online due to COVID-19, tons of dedicated people, including the undergraduate and communications teams at D'Amore-McKim, quickly mobilized to launch a “Virtual Welcome Days” site. The purpose was to enable our admitted undergrad students and their parents to have the best experience possible despite being unable to physically visit our Boston campus. This project was done in just 22 days. Please check out this amazing video produced by the team. Thanks to Kristina Salwen, Lauren Parker, and Brittany Santoro for their extra effort on this successful project.
  • We launched the D'Amore-McKim COVID-19 Resilience Talk Series that draws upon the expertise of our faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, influencers, and friends to engage in conversations around the COVID-19 crisis. Our community rallied together to listen, ask questions, and learn. These videos make for some great viewing, and they have drawn rave reviews from our community. Many thanks to our development and communications teams, led by Debbie Magnezy and Heather Hill, for organizing and producing this series. More to come on the next iteration of this video series.
  • In collaboration with the Global Resilience Institute, we launched a free short online course to support small and medium-sized businesses in the New England area planning their COVID-19 restart/recovery. Here is a News@Northeastern story on the course. Thanks to Barbara Larson for being the face of D'Amore-McKim in this effort.
  • Developing and newly-industrialized countries with smaller per capita incomes globally have managed the COVID-19 pandemic much better than the United States. What can we learn from them? Ravi Ramamurti, founder-director of the Center for Emerging Markets, with the help of Jorja Kahn, a current student, and Northeastern graduates Hugh Shirley and Jamie McGloin, developed a website documenting resources from around the world as service to the community. 
  • Northeastern University's UK campus (NCH at Northeastern) and ServiceNow (NYSE: NOW) recently announced a ground‑breaking degree. This degree provides students with the opportunity to get real-world experience, develop in‑demand technology + business skills, and work toward a university degree. Congratulations to Christina Jaracz, who through her dual role with the Chancellor's office, was instrumental in shepherding the degree from inception to the launch. Exciting times ahead!
  • Through the auspices of the office of Student Engagement, Affinity, and Inclusion, we started a community conversation series called “Amplifying Black Voices: The Black Student Experience at D'Amore-McKim.” These small group discussions were led by our Building Belonging Fellows and included a cohort of nine Black students who very generously shared their personal experiences, feedback, and recommendations for change. Students met with the D'Amore-McKim senior leadership team, faculty, staff, and student leaders and they have provided us with incredibly thoughtful and implementable recommendations. Thanks to Heather Hauck and her team for their leadership.
  • Amir Grinstein co-founded 50:50 Startups to foster relationships between Israeli and Palestinian innovators in the startup space. The initiative launched a first cohort of 30 entrepreneurs and strengthened bonds between participants. This cohort was supposed to travel to the U.S. for a fully funded six-week boot camp sponsored by D'Amore-McKim, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the groups to continue to work online to see their ventures through. Final teams presented their pitches to a community of investors in early August. Here is coverage of the pioneering initiative by the Times of Israel.
  • Several other members of our fantastic community have become visible experts about business aspects of the COVID-19 crisis and have found other ways to thrive in this environment.

Moving forward

My number one priority remains the safety, health, and wellbeing of our community. Much work has gone into workplace safety protocols, and it shows. Signage is excellent everywhere. People are diligent about wearing face masks at all times. Testing has been a breeze – literally taking a few minutes. In the first week of testing, we have conducted 6,573 tests, with only one positive test. All in all, it has been a smooth transition back. I'm sure my D'Amore-McKim colleagues who are on-campus will agree.

We're cautiously optimistic about the upcoming academic year. The NUFlex classrooms look great. Freshmen undergraduate enrollments show remarkable increases compared to last year, and we have had phenomenal successes with our campus-based MS in Quantitative Finance and Master's in Business Analytics cohorts. These successes would not have been possible if not for our dedicated undergraduate and graduate teams. We all owe a big thank you to them for their dedication and commitment to D'Amore-McKim.

Raj Echambadi
Dunton Family Dean
D'Amore-McKim School of Business