Speaking to hundreds of faculty, students, and staff at his annual State of the University address, Northeastern President Joseph Aoun announced that “Global Experience” would be a unifying theme for the coming academic year. A cornerstone of this theme will be the Presidential Global Scholars initiative, a new program to support outstanding students seeking international co-op opportunities.
“Over the past three years we have dramatically increased the number of students participating in global co-op opportunities—but we need to do more,” Aoun said. “The Presidential Global Scholars initiative will allow us to double the number of students participating in international co-ops.”
The principal goal of the program is to support students in pursuit of global co-op opportunities. Through competitively awarded grants, up to 200 qualifying students each year will become Global Scholars. Out of this group, a select number will earn the designation Presidential Global Fellow.
Aoun emphasized the importance of developing a global perspective through experiential learning. “Northeastern students do not engage in academic tourism,” he said. “Our approach to global learning gives students the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in different cultures. They don’t just see the world, they live it.”
During his address, Aoun also reviewed the university’s accomplishments and ongoing priorities. His overarching message: Northeastern has accelerated its momentum over the past year by remaining true to its “core values” as expressed in the Academic Plan and by making strategic decisions.
He referenced the university’s commitment to strengthen its teaching and research, citing 42 new tenured and tenure-track faculty hires this fall. Since 2006 Northeastern has hired 124 tenured and tenure-track professors; an additional 53 searches are being conducted this year.
Strengthening the university’s research profile has resulted in major federal grants to advance interdisciplinary research. Aoun cited several recent multimillion-dollar awards that support the university’s overarching research themes of health, security, and sustainability.
He also spoke about the high quality of this fall’s entering class, which includes 40 National Merit and National Achievement scholars. The mean score for entering freshmen on the two-part SAT was 1287, up 57 points since 2006, and the middle 50 percent of the new class had an average high-school GPA of 3.7.
Aoun foresees an even brighter future for the university. “The economic climate will continue to present challenges in the year ahead,” he cautioned, “but we will succeed by remaining true to our core values and by sticking to our strategy.”
Provost Stephen Director echoed Aoun’s message about the university’s accelerated momentum. He specifically addressed plans underway to expand research in ways that align with the university’s three broad research themes of health, security, and sustainability. He emphasized that further interdisciplinary faculty hiring will continue to play an important role in those efforts. “We have an ambitious agenda and a truly exciting year ahead,” he said.
Steve Morrison, chairman of the Faculty Senate Agenda Committee, praised the productive and fruitful working relationship between the senate and the university. Morrison said Northeastern has changed significantly over the years and continues to change at “what feels like an accelerating pace.”