Encouraging the graduating class to “go forth to make this an even more perfect union,” General Colin L. Powell commanded the stage at Northeastern’s 110th Commencement, held at the TD Garden in Boston.

Powell, the former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, delivered a passionate speech to the 3,200 graduates, urging them to use the “marvelous and famous” Northeastern co-op and experiential learning in service to others and to the country.

“Do something that gives you satisfaction every day and makes our society a better place. Do something to help your fellow citizens. The need to serve others has never been greater in our nation.”

The night before his Commencement address, Powell administered the commissioning oath to the cadets of Northeastern’s ROTC battalion and recalled the years he spent in the ROTC at City College of New York.

President Joseph E. Aoun urged the graduating class to take advantage of what they’ve learned on co-op. “At its best, experiential learning is a way of life.

“Your decisions and your choices will shape your lives and careers,” Aoun said. “In a world of rapid change and at a time of enormous challenges, they will also shape our collective future. We are in your hands.”



Honorary Degree Recipients

  • Colin Powell

  • David S. Ferriero

  • Sy Sternberg

  • Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Judith Rodin, and Colin Powell



General Colin L. Powell, USA, Ret.
Doctor of Public Service

David S. Ferriero, LA’72, MA’76, 10th Archivist of the United States
Doctor of Humane Letters

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, ME’77, head of the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight in Indonesia
Doctor of Engineering

Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation
Doctor of Humane Letters

Sy Sternberg, ME’68, former chair of Northeastern University’s Board of Trustees and retired chairman and CEO of New York Life
Doctor of Commerce