Task force recommends Northwestern open up to 3 new international campuses

Peter Kotecki, Campus Editor

A University task force recommended Northwestern open up to three new campuses around the world over the next five years.

The Global Strategy Task Force, formed by Provost Dan Linzer in May 2015, released a report Friday outlining several recommendations. The task force, co-chaired by Kellogg School of Management Dean Sally Blount and Executive Vice President Nim Chinniah, spent 18 months examining ways to help the University increase its global activity over the next 10 years.

This recommendation, if followed, would lead NU to open its second international site, as the University currently operates a campus in Doha, Qatar. Northwestern University in Qatar and five other U.S. schools have branches in Education City, a multi-university campus on the outskirts of Doha.

Blount told The Daily she hopes all NU schools will be able to benefit from the new global campuses. She added that she would like the university’s U.S. campuses outside Cook County to be used more as well.

“Kellogg has a site in Miami that could be utilized for more of the University to really think about Latin America,” Blount said. “There is a site in San Francisco that Medill and McCormick have partnered on — that really (is) a university site that all schools could use.”

She said administrators are discussing several countries the university could open campuses in, but a decision has not yet been made.

“I personally would be a big fan for something in Southeast Asia,” she said. “I would love to see a site in Africa, (and) I think it would be exciting to have a site in South America, in Brazil or Mexico.”

In addition to suggesting the opening of new international campuses, the task force report includes eight other recommendations. In part, it recommends the University increase support for language study, integrate its global activity and create a plan for monitoring progress on its goals.

To promote the integration of global work, Blount said the University will create new offices, one for students and one for faculty and staff. The offices would serve as a hub for information about all opportunities outside Cook County, including research, travel and internships, she said.

According to the report, the increase in NU’s global engagement is made possible by several partnerships, teaching investments and academic initiatives, as well as Roberta Buffett Elliott’s (Weinberg ‘54) more than $100 million gift to the University.

“There are a couple of really exciting things about the report,” Blount said. “One is the decision by the University to use the wonderful platform that the Buffett gift has given us to really think very officiously about how to broaden Northwestern’s global reach.”

The report also recommends that the provost appoint six faculty groups in 2017 to explore six international themes, including Cities and Migration, Finite Earth, and Human Conflict and Violence.

“Some of them are more predictable, like ‘Finite Earth,’” Blount said. “But some of them, like this whole idea of the Arts and Cultural Fluidity, I think we are uniquely positioned in to do something exciting there.”

Ronald Braeutigam, associate provost for undergraduate education, said the task force thought about an integrated approach to global issues at the university and tackled several important questions, such as marketing NU in a way that allows everyone to understand what the University’s “overarching strategy” is.

Although the task force submitted its report to Linzer, he will not oversee all of the recommendations in it. In June, University President Morton Schapiro announced that Linzer will step down at the end of this academic year. Schapiro told The Daily he is leading the selection process for Linzer’s successor.

“We came up with some very clear, tractable recommendations,” Blount said. “When the new provost is appointed, and with Dan Linzer’s guidance as he finishes out his time, if these recommendations are followed, some very concrete … things could happen for Northwestern.”

Schapiro said in an October interview with The Daily that, throughout his career in higher education, he has been skeptical of universities operating global campuses. It can be difficult for schools to open sites abroad and maintain a high quality of faculty, staff and academic programs, he said.

When he came to NU, Schapiro said, he hoped the University did not have a global campus, but he is now an “enormous advocate” for the site in Qatar.

“My traditional skepticism about international programs is depreciating the value of the brand, not creating the same value,” Schapiro said. “I think that is not the case there.”

Blount added that she hopes the report will prompt more coordination across the university’s schools.

“There are a lot of great things happening, but they’re all in different places,” Blount said. “As a premier global university, we have to constantly be looking forward to how we can get better.”

Allyson Chiu contributed reporting.

This story was updated Sunday at 10 p.m. with a comment from an October interview with Morton Schapiro.

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Twitter: @peterkotecki