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Through Webcast, Northeastern U. Faculty Reaches Out To Students Regarding Current Financial Crisis

This story was written by Mike Napolitano, The Northeastern News

Students anxious to learn something from Northeastern Universityprofessors without spending hours in their classes are in luck.

Northeastern launched its first webcast panel discussion Monday in an hour-long segment titled "Will the Economic Bailout Plan Work? - A Panel of Northeastern Experts Weigh in." The webcast, which was streamed live on and is available to listen to now, was moderated by Stephen Burgard, director of the School of Journalism, and included a panel of four professors.

The discussion featured four Northeastern professors who focused primarily on finance or politics. Jeffrey Born, Nicole Boyson and Harlan Platt all represented the College of Business Administration as professors of finance, while Bruce Wallin offered his expertise in political science.

"It seemed like something we should have jumped on a long time ago," said Jim Chiavelli, interim university spokesperson

Chiavelli said Northeastern's Marketing and Communications department put the webcast together, and was happy with the result. He said about 200 people listened to the discussion live and another 180 listened to the recording subsequently, according to data from the website. WBZ Broadcast news was also present, he said, using some of the discussion in their program and interviewing the professors who were there.

"It fits perfectly with the president's goal to showcase the faculty," he said. "It was like being in the room for a NPR [National Public Radio] discussion, just really smart, funny people sitting around, chatting about an issue."

Burgard also said he was satisfied with the webcast's result.

"It was quite successful," he said. "We have some good, knowledgeable faculty members who cross the spectrum of finance and politics."

Bruce Wallin, an associate political science professor, who was on the panel, was also happy with the discussion.

"I think it was a nice balance that they brought in," he said. "I think the Wall Street bailout, what's important about it for the economy is more important than what it says politically, so the balance of three finance people to one political science [person] was good."

Chiavelli said this would not be the only panel discussion to be streamed.

"We're hoping to make it a regular event," Chiavelli said.

He said Northeastern was interested in showcasing a variety of topics and professors, from nanotechnology to the major issues in the presidential election.

"We want to pick out areas where we can really show what our faculty is made of," he said.

Chiavelli said he would be meet today with about 20 professors to talk about a preliminary list of topics.

Wallin said he enjoyed being able to reach students in ways other than classroom lectures.

"I like doing these kinds of things because it's good for the university and professors to offer more kinds of things than just in the classroom," he said. "It is important for the university. We want better and better students and we want the university's reputation to grow."

Some students said they were open to the idea of streaming discussions on topics like politics.

"I'd be interested in stuff about the elections," said Katie Coleman, a sophomore biology major. "I wouldn't be able to make time to listen live, but I might check out the recording later on."

The discussion started off with Burgard asking the panel how the financial world has changed in the last week with the passage of the bailout legislation.

"They had to give $110 billion of giveaways," Platt said. "You have a Conress, which caused the problem causing more problems in trying to find the solution."

Burgard went on to ask how the announcement of the bailout resulted in the market taking a dive.

"We've let out a pretty big sneeze and now the rest of the world is starting to get the cold," Wallen said.

The discussion went on to cover topics such as the country's housing crisis and credit addiction.

"It's a combination of everyone recognizing or everyone believing that 'hey, I can always borrow.'," said Boyson, an assistant professor of Finance. "It's also a function of the housing market being crazy-overvalued for years. It's just a large number of people borrowing way too much money and then the assets against which they were borrowing are suddenly becoming less than what they thought they were worth."

Born, a professor of finance, was concerned with a possible inflation problem in the future.

"I'm keeping my fixed mortgage and I'm not paying it off early," he said.

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