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.”