Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a global research university and the recognized leader in experience-driven lifelong learning. Our world-renowned experiential approach empowers our students, faculty, alumni, and partners to create impact far beyond the confines of discipline, degree, and campus.
Our locations—in Boston; Charlotte, North Carolina; London; Portland, Maine; San Francisco; Seattle; Silicon Valley; Toronto; Vancouver; and the Massachusetts communities of Burlington and Nahant—are nodes in our growing global university system. Through this network, we expand opportunities for flexible, student-centered learning and collaborative, solutions-focused research.
Northeastern’s comprehensive array of undergraduate and graduate programs— in a variety of on-campus and online formats—lead to degrees through the doctorate in nine colleges and schools. Among these, we offer more than 195 multi-discipline majors and degrees designed to prepare students for purposeful lives and careers.
About the Opportunity:
Northeastern University seeks an executive director with a balance of academic and applied AI credentials. Unlike many other academic opportunities, this is an opportunity to build a leading research institute from the ground up, with a specific focus on applying leading science in a practical human context. The executive director should be an outstanding communicator, with the necessary interpersonal skills and charisma to connect with broad audiences internally and externally, including senior university leadership, faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors, corporate partners, and the community of leading researchers in this space.
The Institute for Experiential Artificial Intelligence
Researchers and policymakers have warned that if the autonomous systems that are increasingly integrating into our lives are not carefully designed, there could be serious repercussions. There is a clear need to ensure that human values stay at the center of new advances in artificial intelligence. At this critical moment, Northeastern is launching the Institute for Experiential Artificial Intelligence, a pioneering research hub that will place human skills and intelligence at the forefront of artificial intelligence development, from the earliest design steps to final implementation. Indeed, the true promise of AI lies at the intersection of humans and intelligent machines, helping each achieve what neither could alone and to transform society for the better. Northeastern’s Institute for Experiential AI advances this human-centered approach, enabling us to design, implement, and scale AI to help people reach greater productivity and creativity at work, lead healthier lives, and build stronger communities.
The institute spans the entirety of Northeastern’s global network, with a primary focus to build out the research initiatives through the Roux Institute in Portland, Maine. The Roux Institute, is designed as an engine of innovation, talent, and economic growth in Portland, the state of Maine, and the region. Strong partnership between the university and stakeholders in both the public and private sectors is what sets Northeastern’s education and research model apart. With leading companies at the table from day one, we are together creating an agile workforce prepared to thrive in a competitive landscape powered by artificial intelligence, and an environment for innovation in the life sciences and other high-growth sectors.
The university is allocating $50 million for the new institute, in which leading experts in the humanities, law, public policy, machine learning, health, security, and sustainability will collaborate to develop solutions to the world’s challenges. The Institute for Experiential AI will focus on enabling artificial intelligence and humans to collaborate interactively to solve problems in health, security, and sustainability.
In launching the Institute for Experiential Artificial Intelligence, Northeastern will hire as many as 30 faculty members to design the future of autonomous systems, one in which people work collaboratively with machines rather than be replaced by them. Including the university’s existing experts in this field, up to 80 professors and researchers will collaborate across a variety of disciplines, including computing, digital humanities, law, engineering, and the sciences. In addition, by accessing Northeastern’s global network of industry partners, the institute will develop new technologies and applications in partnership with businesses, government, and non-profit organizations.
The expansion of human-based artificial intelligence builds on interdisciplinary efforts that are already underway at Northeastern. The university’s Institute for Experiential Robotics brings together engineers, ethicists, sociologists, and economists to develop machines that can learn and execute human behaviors. The Ethics Institute connects researchers from the disciplines of philosophy, information science, communications, public administration, anthropology, and law to discuss ethical issues such as information privacy, intellectual property, intellectual freedom, and censorship. At the Network Science Institute, researchers are working to discover and inspire fundamentally new ways to measure, model, predict and visualize meaningful interactions and interconnectivity of social, physical and technological systems, most recently on modeling the spread and recovery of COVID-19. At the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute, researchers collaborate with experts in industry, government, and academia to develop and safeguard technologies such as smart applications, self-driving cars, and delivery drones. The Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things convenes 130 researchers across disciplines, including cybersecurity and resilience, to pioneer research on smart technologies. Northeastern’s researchers have deep expertise in both fundamental AI and applied AI. For example, projects include using machine learning to predict outbursts in individuals with autism, examining algorithms for biases to ensure they are used ethically, applying machine learning to help figure out which apps on your phone are leaking your personal information, developing tools that use machine learning algorithms and natural language processing models to sift through and make sense of scientific literature for healthcare providers, and applying computer visions techniques for image segmentation of in-vivo confocal microscopy image stacks of the skin to detect cancer without requiring an invasive procedure.
Northeastern prepares students to thrive in the age of artificial intelligence by emphasizing uniquely human skills in the form of a curriculum called humanics. Humanics integrates technological, data, and human literacies into learning in order to prepare people to do what intelligent machines cannot: create, collaborate and empathize. The humanics curriculum is a key piece of the university’s strategic plan, Northeastern 2025—a blueprint for Northeastern’s evolution in the age of artificial intelligence.
Drive groundbreaking advances in experiential artificial intelligence
Experiential AI is focused on dispelling the mystery of algorithms and finding novel ways of opening up discoveries in machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, etc., to greater transparency and collaboration between human and machine. This leader's primary role is to provide the near- and long-term vision for a strategic research agenda in experiential AI, building exciting new bridges between the academic and applied worlds, and developing partnerships with schools, programs, centers and organizations across the university, that will help to shape economic, social, and political landscapes.
Champion AI scholarship across Northeastern’s colleges and campuses, and with external partners
The executive director will develop major strategic research themes for experiential AI, activating the power of global, collaborative networks to increase the relevancy and impact of the institute's efforts. The university has established a blueprint for the successful deployment of research institutes with The Institute for the Wireless Internet of Things, The Institute for Experiential Robotics, and others, but this leader must have the creativity, passion and vision to craft an approach that positions Northeastern within this highly specialized domain. Moreover, this institute spans the entirety of Northeastern’s global network, with a primary focus to collaboratively build out the research initiatives at the Roux Institute in Portland, Maine.
Guide, implement, and evolve the Institute’s operating and strategic plans
The executive director has considerable latitude for exercising judgment and self-direction and needs to make well-timed decisions in a complex environment. The executive director will anticipate strategic decision points and prepare for them effectively, ensuring that success of the institute is both aligned with the institution’s Northeastern 2025 strategic plan and furthering the impact of the university’s constellation of programs and initiatives.
Establish a network of large and small partnerships with external organizations
The practice of experiential AI should have special interest to parties in both the private and public sectors, many of whom need to figure out how to apply advances in AI to their products, services, and operations. This leader should be well positioned to establish key corporate, governmental, and philanthropic partnerships, both as a means for providing applied research opportunities and securing sustainable funding for the institute. Ideally, the institute will develop a diverse, global network of sponsors and collaborators, spanning different sectors, sizes, and geographies. The executive director must be able to leverage relationships with major federal agencies, research and development centers, and multinational organizations and industries to tell the institute's story and bring opportunities back to faculty and students who are eager to change the world.
Uphold the core values of student-centered teaching and learning, and promote experiential learning for an increasingly global community
The co-op program is the backbone of Northeastern’s student experience and a key driver of the university’s astonishing rise. The executive director will work to support the co-op mission; improve the experience of students, faculty, and staff; and, increase participation of students at all levels and educational backgrounds, collaborating across a variety of locations to expand opportunities for engagement with AI research and learning.
Recruit, retain, and support excellent faculty who will solidify the institute’s research and educational impact
The executive director must work to recruit, support and nurture an academically excellent, highly creative, collaborative faculty, who will position Northeastern as the world leader in experiential AI, by creating a robust slate of formal and informal programming that engages and inspires the community. The institute must be driven by a faculty that truly believes in the importance of advancing the field of human-machine collaboration. The executive director will work closely with the provost and the deans of the colleges to recruit T/TT faculty and research faculty in experiential AI.
Encourage entrepreneurial activity to generate excitement, interdisciplinary connectivity, and external impact
Northeastern has built an ecosystem of entrepreneurship in recent years, having spun out 54 faculty- and student-formed companies since 2006, with over 123 invention disclosures last year alone. IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, has more than 400 active ventures in its pipeline. The activities of the institute will ideally contribute to this entrepreneurial output, encouraging startup activity, incubation, and technology transfer mechanisms. The executive director will work with the Office of Research Development to lower barriers for entrepreneurial ventures and encourage faculty to take thoughtful and creative risks.
Develop new revenue streams and philanthropic support for the institute that will bolster its successes and ensure its future
The university's tremendous recent success has amplified the need for resources to sustain an increasingly ambitious academic vision. The Institute for Experiential AI is the most recent example of this momentum and its leader must work closely in concert with other university leaders to tell the institute's story, deliver value to a range of partners, and secure the resources necessary to continue on this exciting journey.
Oversee the administration and operations of a rapidly evolving, top-tier research institute
In order to attract world-class faculty and external partnerships, it is important that the institute is not only a source of innovative ideas, but an efficient, reliable, secure, accessible, and dynamic organization; a place where participants are enabled by a smooth running machine that is also flexible enough to accommodate new practices in research and education.
Experience as an innovator or entrepreneur; has worked through the process of envisioning, building and launching a program/company/organization in the for-profit, non-profit or public sector.
Success in attracting and securing financial support and effectively mobilizing institutional assets.
Deep appreciation of the experiential mission of Northeastern University and an understanding of the critical role that the Institute will play in the university’s future.
Dynamic, engaging communicator who forges strong internal and external relationships and works effectively in a multi-constituency environment where a high degree of sustained collaboration is critical to success.
A team player with a track record of recruiting and developing talented employees and forging strong, productive allegiances with a diverse group of peers, colleagues and supervisors.
Unimpeachable character and personal integrity.
Demonstrated commitment to cultural diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Understanding of one or more domains beyond AI, such as healthcare, industrial manufacturing, software, telecommunications, etc.
Relevant academic credentials in computer science, mathematics, AI, etc. A Ph.D. is preferred, but not required.
CRITICAL LEADERSHIP CAPABILITIES
•Works to achieve goals while overcoming obstacles and/or planning for contingencies.
•Shows strong feelings (e.g., urgency) about reaching targets.
•Checks work of self and others against required quality standards.
•Reviews performance and progress on a regular basis to ensure team is achieving results.
•Tests to see if goals are sufficiently challenging and implements corrective action based on deviations.
•Creates a strategy and vision that defines the evolving future of AI and integrates initiatives and their implications, both internally and with external stakeholders (i.e., - corporate demand, government initiatives, endeavors at other research institutions, etc.).
•Articulates research and partnership initiatives, funding and talent requirements, core values, and future needs in a clear and coherent way.
•Provides a clear strategic direction for the university and its external partners, leading to logically derived changes in the actions of the community.
•Thinks more than five years ahead.
Collaborating and Influencing
•Invites and uses the opinions and perspectives of others.
•Engages people in a dialogue to gain commitment and bring them "on board", linking their perspective to the intent.
•Adapts own approach to the audience, anticipating impact of words and actions, preparing for possible resistance and responding in an appropriate and professional manner, using a range of influencing styles.
•Resolves conflicts by discussing individual issues with each person.
•Checks with multiple viewpoints to ensure a common understanding.
•Takes initiative to maintain contact with both internal and external stakeholders.