In his annual talk to the Fac­ulty Senate, North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun reaf­firmed his belief that the cur­rent finan­cial crisis presents oppor­tu­ni­ties for inno­va­tion and that North­eastern is uniquely posi­tioned to make changes while main­taining its core values.

In a period like this, it is impor­tant for us to remain true to our fun­da­mental pri­or­i­ties of edu­ca­tion and knowl­edge pro­duc­tion,” said Aoun. “We must work col­lec­tively to make sure we are pro­tecting and strength­ening our respon­si­bility to our stu­dents and to the ben­e­fits of trans­la­tional research.”

Aoun encour­aged fac­ulty mem­bers to take own­er­ship of the cur­rent chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties. “You are the uni­ver­sity,” he said. “Work with your deans and depart­ment heads—let’s turn every­thing we do into a plat­form for innovation.”

On the edu­ca­tion front, the pres­i­dent called for increased pro­fes­sional degrees, noting that many people seek to advance their pro­fes­sional skills during times of eco­nomic uncer­tainty. Aoun also men­tioned the need to invest in more online edu­ca­tion. “We have the infra­struc­ture to do more here—now is the time to do it.”

Throughout his remarks, Aoun stressed that coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion and expe­ri­en­tial learning are the back­bone of the university’s past and future suc­cess. He also men­tioned that Northeastern’s dis­tinct approach to research is driven by the university’s entre­pre­neurial spirit, which is rooted in co-​​op.

Aoun specif­i­cally men­tioned plans to strengthen Northeastern’s engage­ment with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, par­tic­u­larly as the Obama-​​Biden admin­is­tra­tion tran­si­tions into office. An eco­nomic stim­ulus bill and other leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties will present sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ties for fed­eral resources.

The new administration’s pri­or­i­ties align with many of our strategic goals,” he said. “We intend to be more of a player in this domain. Our posi­tion as an engaged, urban uni­ver­sity can pro­vide us with new avenues of fed­eral support.”

Empha­sizing that he remains opposed to an across-​​the-​​board approach, Aoun thanked the fac­ulty for their thoughtful efforts to con­tain costs. He pointed out that the uni­ver­sity has care­fully exam­ined cur­rent ren­o­va­tion projects, travel, events and oper­ating budgets.

During a ques­tion and answer period, the pres­i­dent touched on the height­ened impor­tance of finan­cial aid, the need to expand glob­ally, and the value of working across tra­di­tional aca­d­emic boundaries.

Our his­tory has been one of change and inno­va­tion,” said Aoun. “By embracing this part of our past, we will surely suc­ceed in the future.”