Northeastern University trustee emeritus Richard J. Egan, a pioneering business leader and American statesman, died yesterday at the age of 73.
A 1961 graduate of Northeastern’s College of Engineering, Egan was cofounder of EMC, a global data storage company based in Hopkinton, Mass. Egan and fellow Northeastern alumnus Roger Marino founded EMC in 1979 and transformed it from a startup into a multinational company with 40,000 employees.
“Dick Egan epitomized the entrepreneurial spirit of Northeastern,” said President Joseph Aoun. “A trailblazing innovator, he took his Northeastern education and built a business that has become an engine of tremendous economic growth. This same entrepreneurial spirit motivated Dick to give back to Northeastern, which has helped generations of students to achieve their dreams.”
Beyond his success in business, Egan served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland from 2001 to 2002. He also served as a Marine in the Korean War, made a gift to support the building of the Veterans Memorial on campus, and participated annually in the University’s Veterans Day ceremony.
“A true son of Northeastern, Dick loved the University and championed cooperative education,” said Chairman of the Board Sy Sternberg in a joint statement with President Aoun to the Trustees. “His entrepreneurial spirit inspired Northeastern to reach for excellence in research and through his generous gift of the Egan Engineering and Research Center, the University has been able to attract internationally known faculty and world renown for its cutting edge scholarship.”
In 1996, the University opened the Maureen and Richard J. Egan Engineering and Science Research Center, which today is home to state-of-the-art laboratories for National Science Foundation-funded research in nanotechnology and subsurface sensing and imaging.
While his gift to support the Egan Center was his most visible contribution to Northeastern, his role as a University leader was equally important. He joined the Northeastern University Corporation in 1987 and served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1994 to 2008. During that time, he worked closely with several Northeastern presidents and inspired other University alumni to support Northeastern’s mission.
Always quick to credit Northeastern’s co-op program for his career success, Egan helped make EMC a major co-op employer for current and future Northeastern students. His impact on Northeastern students and faculty, Aoun added, “will ripple through this institution for many years to come.”