Mass­a­chu­setts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a 1972 grad­uate of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, cred­ited his alma mater and the oppor­tu­ni­ties he gained through the university’s coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram with set­ting him on his path toward a suc­cessful career in politics.

Speaking at Northeastern’s Alumni Center on May 21, DeLeo empha­sized the tremen­dous admi­ra­tion he feels for the university—where his son Robert is pur­suing doc­toral studies in polit­ical science—and his wish to be an ambas­sador for Northeastern.

It’s impor­tant to me that when folks look at Bob DeLeo, they look at a grad­uate of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity,” he said. “I do look at myself as an ambas­sador [for] this uni­ver­sity … and I look for­ward to a long and lasting rela­tion­ship with the university.”

About 200alumni, uni­ver­sity leaders, friends, and dig­ni­taries attended the event, including North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun, Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Polit­ical Sci­ence and former Mass­a­chu­setts gov­ernor Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty, state insur­ance com­mis­sioner and North­eastern law school alumna Nonnie S. Burnes, and mem­bers of the state House of Representatives.

Pres­i­dent Aoun intro­duced DeLeo as an inspi­ra­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the university.

Stu­dents tell me all the time that one reason they chose North­eastern is that they know some­body who came here, a father, mother, friend, or a role model,” Aoun said. “Mr. Speaker, you def­i­nitely fit this cat­e­gory. Robby is here studying with us … and you inspire many others. They call you, they call us, and they say, ‘We want to go to the school that the speaker attended.’ We’re really proud to have you as our alumnus.”

DeLeo said the feeling was mutual.

The co-​​op edu­ca­tion I got at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity was a major ingre­dient” in my col­lege career, he said. “That’s what is really so impor­tant about a North­eastern edu­ca­tion. It gives stu­dents the oppor­tu­nity to work in the real world. It’s not like attending an insti­tu­tion that’s in an ivory tower.”

DeLeo noted that a co-​​op job at Lib­erty Mutual Insurance—where he worked in claims and inter­acted fre­quently with attorneys—inspired him to attend law school, his first step towards a polit­ical career.
He cred­ited Aoun with strong lead­er­ship through rough eco­nomic times. “Having this guy at the helm of this insti­tu­tion at a time when many other insti­tu­tions are not doing so well, or in some cases, are floun­dering, speaks vol­umes about the pres­i­dent you have here,” DeLeo said.

The president’s office and the Office of Alumni Rela­tions cospon­sored the event.