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Fifty Years
of Innovation

Fifty years. Five decades. Half a century. It may not seem like a long time by most measures, but in the world of technology (and—let’s face it—any industry that relies upon, employs, or develops technology, which is all of them) 50 years is equivalent to many lifetimes.

Never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time.

Bill Gates

Boston University’s Metropolitan College may wear the rosy hue of youth, but it has weathered approximately 20,000 days of technological breakthroughs, marketplace tumult, industry fluctuation, business evolution, and trends that emerge and either revolutionize the world or go the way of the dodo. During that time, the College has become ever more experienced in the ways it anticipates, and embraces, change.

“MET has been innovative for all the time that I have been on the faculty,” says Associate Professor Eric Braude. “Innovation has been present in the curriculum as well as in our teaching methods and tools. And through distance education, we have made our resources available to the world.”

From the beginning, MET’s mission has been to ensure that Boston University’s world-class resources are accessible to the community and the world via part-time, evening programs aimed at self-motivated adults and working professionals. Over the years, however, MET continued to refine its ambitions and expand its reach, introducing courses off-site at corporate locations, in the high-technology corridor northwest of Boston, abroad, and eventually, online.

“The innovations in course delivery formats were driven by internal factors such as initiative and desire to experiment on the part of MET faculty and administration,” says Associate Professor Emeritus Victor Shtern (Questrom’85). “One of the first innovations for reaching a wider community was opening satellite campuses located either on the premises of large companies, or at non-company premises like the Wang Institute—or even out of state in North Carolina and abroad in Germany, Israel, Spain, and Belgium.”

The year 2002 turned out to be momentous, as the College introduced online courses—and a new epoch in the capability to reach students nationwide and across the globe. “Boston University entered the online arena with MET’s courses in criminal justice,” explains former dean and Professor of the Practice Jay Halfond. “That, and subsequent online rollouts, completely transformed MET. We raised standards, addressed grade inflation, and added programs that reflected the high-quality students we were now attracting. The credibility of the Distance Education office approach to distant learning was self-evident, and showed MET as an essential value proposition within BU.”

Whether in the evening, online, or in the blended format that combines both, MET’s current programs anticipate and reflect areas of innovation and high growth in industry. There are more than 70 degrees and certificates available, affording students and entrepreneurs opportunities to advance in critical areas such as analytics, cybersecurity, health care IT, project management, and many others—while providing an education that helps to close crucial skill gaps.

“We have always been acutely aware of the changes and the transformational power of technology,” noted Dean Zlateva at last May’s Commencement, while offering a reminder that innovation includes the College’s social values. MET’s promise of intellectual excitement, accessibility, and affordability underscores initiatives such as scholarships for the Boston community and community college graduates, the Prison Education program to lower rates of recidivism, and collaboration with local cities to help them plan for the consequences of climate change.

“As a community, we take pride in the superior quality of our pedagogy, technology, and applied techniques and tools,” concludes the Dean. “Our industry-relevant part-time and online programs ensure that our graduates are well prepared to keep pace with today’s rapidly changing world.”