One week after opening the George J. Kostas Research Insti­tute for Home­land Secu­rity, North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun trav­eled to Wash­ington, D.C., to meet with U.S. Sec­re­tary of Home­land Secu­rity Janet Napolitano.

Aoun spoke to Napoli­tano and other senior Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­rity (DHS) offi­cials about Northeastern’s long­standing com­mit­ment to secu­rity research and the oppor­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by the new Kostas Insti­tute. The Uni­ver­sity expects to build on its strength in explo­sives detec­tion, cyber secu­rity, under­water robotics and national resilience.

The Kostas Insti­tute will give North­eastern the capacity and clear­ances to con­duct secure research in a restricted envi­ron­ment. The insti­tute will be equipped to test and develop new secu­rity tech­nolo­gies and create path­ways to imple­ment those tech­nolo­gies to address real secu­rity needs.

In 2008, North­eastern was selected as one of 11 uni­ver­si­ties nation­wide to house a DHS Center of Excel­lence. The $10 mil­lion grant estab­lished the Aware­ness and Local­iza­tion of Explosives-​​Related Threats (ALERT) center at Northeastern.

At North­eastern, we have made secu­rity research one of our top pri­or­i­ties,” said Pres­i­dent Aoun. “Expan­sion in this area builds on our existing strength and helps address a national imper­a­tive. We see this align­ment as an oppor­tu­nity to partner with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment and make our nation safer.”

Aoun’s meeting with Napoli­tano was part of a two-​​day visit to Wash­ington, during which he also met with offi­cials on Capitol Hill and at the White House to dis­cuss higher-​​education policy and funding pri­or­i­ties. Aoun also met with other uni­ver­sity pres­i­dents at a meeting of the Amer­ican Council on Edu­ca­tion (ACE). Aoun will become chairman of the ACE Board of Direc­tors in March 2012.

During Aoun’s tenure, the Uni­ver­sity has pri­or­i­tized its research agenda around three national imper­a­tives: health, secu­rity and sus­tain­ability. Aoun has also led a national effort to strengthen the fed­eral Perkins Loan pro­gram, which pri­marily ben­e­fits middle-​​class stu­dents and families.