education's digital future

Northeastern U. at Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley’s “war for talent” has technology companies tempting potential recruits with benefits such as egg freezing, gourmet cafeterias and private shuttles. But few can match semiconductor producer Integrated Device Technology’s latest perk: a graduate school in the office.

Northeastern University on Monday officially unveiled its latest branch campus, adding to its locations in Charlotte, N.C., and Seattle. Unlike those campuses, which are free-standing, the university’s Silicon Valley branch will be hosted at multiple hubs in the Bay Area, sharing space with the region’s tech companies.

Northeastern, as opposed to the many universities that have established branch campuses abroad, has focused its expansion efforts within the U.S. While its undergraduate student population and research centers remain in Boston, the university is increasingly taking its graduate offerings to professionals in the regions where they work.

"The traditional notion of a university that is defined by a campus is now replaced by the notion of a university that has a global presence and different manifestations, physical and otherwise,” Joseph E. Aoun, Northeastern’s president, said in an interview. “We are not looking to expand for the sake of expanding.… We are looking for vibrant, urban environments where there are activities that are exciting and we can be a part of, add to and also benefit from. We clearly couldn’t ignore Silicon Valley. Who could?"

Since Northeastern plans to offer hybrid certificate and degree programs in the Bay Area, the university’s locations there will need only “lighter” infrastructure than a full campus, said Philomena Mantella, senior vice president and chief executive of the institution's Global Network. “It won’t have residence halls or climbing gyms. It will have those things that relate to the learning experiences that we’re offering there.”

Although she declined to discuss expansion plans, Mantella said the university is studying everything from Silicon Valley’s industry clusters to its traffic patterns to determine where it should place future hubs....

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