Today, the higher-​​education com­mu­nity in Mass­a­chu­setts and throughout the nation marks the passing of one of its most pow­erful advo­cates: Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The senior U.S. Sen­ator from Mass­a­chu­setts was chairman of the Senate Health, Edu­ca­tion, Labor, and Pen­sions Com­mittee and the second-​​longest-​​serving sen­ator of all time.

I join everyone in the North­eastern family today as we mourn the passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy,” said North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun. “Sen. Kennedy was an unwa­vering ally of higher edu­ca­tion in gen­eral and North­eastern in par­tic­ular. He spoke on our campus many times throughout his remark­able career—both to impart his wisdom to our grad­u­ates and to engage our com­mu­nity in impor­tant public policy debates.”

Since the begin­ning of his accom­plished career in the Senate, Kennedy main­tained a close rela­tion­ship with North­eastern. He became an offi­cial member of the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity on June 20, 1965, when he received the hon­orary degree Doctor of Public Admin­is­tra­tion and deliv­ered his first North­eastern com­mence­ment address, in which he not only encour­aged grad­u­ates to pursue a life of ser­vice and jus­tice, but also urged them to look beyond Amer­ican shores in shaping their polit­ical and social views.

In that address, he said, “Our for­eign policy is the reflec­tion of our people. It will be enlight­ened if you are enlightened—if you under­stand the people of other nations, what they need and how they think.”

Kennedy deliv­ered a second address to the grad­u­ating class of 1977, and a third at the North­eastern School of Law com­mence­ment exer­cises in 1998. He also served as the escort for hon­orary degree recip­ient and Com­mence­ment speaker Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton at Northeastern’s 1993 com­mence­ment ceremony.

Kennedy also served as a member of the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Cor­po­ra­tion from 1965 to 1990. Since then, he has con­tinued to be a familiar face on the campus, espe­cially in con­nec­tion to his advo­cacy for stu­dent finan­cial aid. He has spoken at stu­dent ral­lies, sought stu­dent tes­ti­monies regarding higher-​​education issues, and held press con­fer­ences and senate com­mittee field hear­ings at Northeastern.

His most recent visit to campus was in March of last year when he held a hearing on the chal­lenges of col­lege costs in the declining economy. The Com­mittee heard wit­ness tes­ti­mony from stu­dents, fed­eral offi­cials, and other financial-​​aid experts.

The greatest tribute to the life of Ted Kennedy is for people of all polit­ical per­spec­tives to work together toward improving our city, our nation, and the world,” added Aoun. “As the sen­ator him­self famously said: ‘The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.’”