The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 20.0°F | A Few Clouds

Lowell School Will Move to Northeastern

By Yaron Koren

The Lowell Institute School is slated to become part of Northeastern University this coming summer, Northeastern Provost Michael Baer said.

The Lowell School, which has provided evening technical instruction to community residents at MIT for 92 years, was scheduled to close July 1, 1996, under a cost-cutting decision made by former Provost Mark S. Wrighton.

The school will instead join Northeastern's School of Engineering Technology at that time.

The final contract transferring LIS to Northeastern was signed on Tuesday by John A. Curry, the president of Northeastern, and John Lowell, the sole trustee of the Lowell Institute (an educational funding group), and the grandson of its founder.

The new school will incorporate all of Northeastern's existing technological night-school programs under the new Lowell name, Baer said. The classes will have much of the same curriculum and many of the same instructors as the current Lowell school, Baer said.

A Northeastern employee will be sent to work with the current Lowell administration in October or November in order to smooth the transition process, said Northeastern School of Engineering Technology Director Charles W. Finn PhD '71.

Lowell School classes will begin at Northeastern next fall, he said.

Feelings about move are mixed

The decision to move the Lowell School to Northeastern came after nearly nine months of speculation and discussion about the fate of the school following Wrighton's decision to close it.

The move is "a fantastic synergy. I'm very excited about it," Finn said. Many of the instructors who teach night classes at LIS are already professors at Northeastern during the day, Finn said.

Bruce D. Wedlock '56, director of the Lowell Institute School and a lecturer in the the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, expressed misgivings about MIT's decision to let go of the school.

"I think it's been a very successful operation, and I'm obviously disappointed to see it close after having built it up over the last 22 years," he said.

The decision to close the school at MIT was "misguided," Wedlock said. "Wrighton left a legacy of a lot of angry people," he said.

"It obviously won't be the same thing. I don't want to sound negative, but Northeastern isn't MIT," Wedlock said.

Lowell called Northeastern "a wonderful fit" in an article in The Northeastern Voice. He declined to comment to The Tech.

The Cambridge City Council has been concerned with keeping the Lowell school in Cambridge, according to Cambridge City Council member Katherine Triantafillou.

The school teaches around 1,000 local residents each year, at a significantly lower cost than other area schools like Harvard University's Extension School. At one point, a proposal was floated in council for the city itself to acquire land from MIT to maintain the school, but the measure fell through.

Triantafillou, who served on a council subcommittee which met with MIT officials to try to preserve the school, called the move "unfortunate." Many Cambridge residents who now use the program might no longer be able to once the Lowell School moves to Boston, she said. She added that the price of attending will probably go up as well.

"I can understand the concerns of the city council," Finn said. "I have assured them, through the MIT provost, that we will make every possible effort to make an outreach to Cambridge residents and to the students currently in the program," he said.

Finn noted that the school's location at Northeastern will only be about a mile away from the MIT campus. He also mentioned the possibility of creating special scholarships for the LowellSchool to be made available solely to Cambridge residents.

Baer said that he expects the school to retain the majority of its current students.