Joseph E. Aoun

President, Northeastern University

Joseph E. Aoun, an internationally known scholar in linguistics, is the seventh president of Northeastern University—a preeminent global, experiential, research university. Since his presidency began in August 2006, he has charted an ambitious and distinctive course to advance Northeastern. At the heart of his vision is a commitment to strengthen the University’s leadership position in experiential and cooperative education; create global programs with an urban perspective; foster a research environment where faculty uncover solutions to real-world problems; and build innovative partnerships so that Northeastern can better serve its students, its city, the nation, and the world.

President Aoun is spearheading an innovative model of undergraduate education. Under his leadership, Northeastern expanded its signature cooperative and experiential education program to 88 cities in 46 countries and launched NU Core, the first University-wide general education program, which includes an experiential learning requirement for all students. In July 2008, Princeton Review ranked Northeastern number one in the best career / job placement services category. Further evidence of Northeastern’s advancement under President Aoun’s leadership can be seen in the number of students who now seek admission. In just two years, undergraduate applications rose 32 percent, reaching an all-time high for fall 2008.

In fostering a collaborative research climate, President Aoun has created an environment where faculty pioneer emerging fields and tackle problems with societal relevance. In 2008 Northeastern became home to a National Security Agency Center for Excellence in Information Assurance Research and Education, and was one of only 11 universities nationwide chosen to lead a Homeland Security Center for Excellence. President Aoun has also made strengthening Northeastern’s faculty ranks a central priority, launching an interdisciplinary hiring initiative and a research support program for mid-career faculty.

His passion for partnership-building and urban engagement is enriching both the University and its partners. He has formed collaborative joint-degree programs with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts, and was instrumental in forming a joint research platform between Greece and the University. He also launched the Stony Brook Initiative, a comprehensive University-neighborhood partnership for youth and community development.

President Aoun serves on the boards of directors of the American Council on Education, Artists for Humanity, the Boston Private Industry Council, Boston World Partnerships, Jobs for Mass, and the New England Council. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative, and serves on the Leadership Council for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Collaborative and as cochair of the City to City Boston initiative.

President Aoun came to Northeastern from the University of Southern California’s College of Letters, Arts & Sciences—the largest school within the university, where he was the inaugural holder of the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair. He received his PhD in linguistics and philosophy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981; his Diploma of Advanced Studies in General and Theoretical Linguistics from the University of Paris (France) VIII in 1977; and his Masters in Oriental Languages and Literature from Saint Joseph University (Beirut, Lebanon) in 1975. In 2006 he was presented with the Chevalier de L’ordre des Palmes Academiques (Knight of the Order of the Academic Palms) from the French Government, and in May of 2007 Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion presented him the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. President Aoun has published seven books and written more than 40 articles.

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