I hope that our D’Amore-McKim community had an enjoyable summer. A lot has happened over the summer, and I’m looking forward to kicking off the new academic year. This is an exciting time, but I know it’s a bit stressful for some of you due to the unknowns surrounding COVID-19 variants. The investment the university has made in our safety should help. The vast majority of our faculty, staff, and students will be fully vaccinated, and the indoor mask mandate was recently reinstated. Weekly testing will also resume soon, and we’re looking forward to a safe and more back-to-normal semester. At this time, all classes will be held in person unless they were scheduled to be online previously, and our staff will largely be back on campus starting next week. University leadership continues to monitor the situation daily and stays abreast of guidance from the CDC, state, and local governments. My top priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our community. We can do this!
It will be a challenging year on many dimensions. We are fortunate that, in addition to our ongoing upward trajectory, remaining open during the pandemic last academic year made us an exemplar for other universities and added to the reputation of Northeastern. The result has been a surge in undergraduate and graduate students coming this fall. This is a good challenge compared to the alternative that many other schools face with declining enrollments and budget crises.
We are also fortunate to have a variety of new program opportunities and initiatives that we can continue to push forward. Moving ahead with and growing these programs will be crucial to our future success. For instance, our innovative new program with PwC continues to grow. Along these lines, we are also very close to formally announcing a partnership with a major healthcare organization to offer a set of educational programs that will help professionals embrace innovation and digital transformation in a global setting. The online course offerings will include opportunities to earn badges, certificates, and an MS degree. More on this to come soon. In addition, we are temporarily pausing admissions to our Online MBA, MS in Finance/MBA, and MS in Finance programs as we do the work necessary to further align them with the school’s vision for the future. A task force to shape the next iteration of these programs is currently being formed.
We continue to face significant challenges beyond the COVID crisis. For instance, there is still much work to be done in creating a more inclusive economy. We need to continue raising awareness of the importance of diversity, inclusion, and belonging. The Northeastern and D’Amore-McKim communities need to work to eliminate systemic barriers and create a sustainable and inclusive economy that provides opportunities for all. As part of this work, our Office of Student Engagement, Affinity, and Inclusion (OSEAI) is launching The Hajim Scholars Program, a year-long initiative involving community building, skill development, and mentorship from peers, alumni, and OSEAI leaders. The program is made possible due to a gift from Edmund Hajim, the non-executive Chairman of HighVista Strategies LLC. The Hajim Scholars Program will support first-generation, low-income students through access to career path exploration and professional network-essential resources to reaching their full scholarly potential. Applications are in, and the selection process started this week.
As we head into the new year, I am very optimistic. I have spent a lot of time meeting with staff, advisory boards, engaged alumni, and many faculty members this summer. You are all tremendous assets that can get us through anything. For instance, I’ve been blown away by our advisory boards and engaged alumni and their willingness to help D’Amore-McKim succeed and move upward. Our faculty and staff continue to engage and look for innovative ways to move ahead and get things done during challenging times. We have hired new faculty and staff over the summer and are well-positioned to meet the upcoming year’s challenges. Hiring and promotions are occurring, and new positions are being created to fill holes that are important to our advancement. We are also in the process of developing recruiting plans for next year that will continue to advance our interests in top-tier research.
We have also welcomed some new faces to the Dean’s Cabinet. Olubunmi (Bunmi) Faleye has joined as Interim Senior Associate Dean of Faculty and Research. Previously, Bunmi served as Chair of the Finance Group. In addition, it’s my pleasure to announce that Jeffery Born is being promoted to Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs. Jeff has a long tenure at Northeastern and has served in various leadership roles, including Senior Associate Dean, Chair of the Finance Group, University Chief Marshall, and a member of the Faculty Senate. Jeff has been doing an outstanding job as Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs, and he is an important strategic advisor to the Dean. Congratulations to Jeff for this well-deserved recognition of his valuable leadership.
Finally, we will begin planning for the recognition of the 100th anniversary of the business school at Northeastern and hosting many exciting events. This will be a tremendous opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the long-time growth and journey that got us to where we are today and to think about where we will go in the next 100 years. Planning will start soon, with the initial goals of finding ways to celebrate and connecting and engaging with our entire community to create a lasting impact. We can all be a part of this!
All in all, there will be challenges, but there is also much to be excited about. I believe in our community, and I’m looking forward to working with all of you this year.
D’Amore-McKim School of Business