Past Northeastern Presidents
Richard M. Freeland
Under the leadership of Richard M. Freeland, Northeastern focused on
achieving excellence as a national research university that is student-centered,
practice-oriented and urban.
John A. Curry boosted academic quality while transforming the university into a smaller, more student-centered institution. Despite financial constraints, Curry improved Northeastern's infrastructure with the construction of three new buildings and the renovation of four others. He oversaw the creation of the campus-wide computer network and the dramatic alteration of the physical landscape of campus. He also led two major fund drives and hosted President Bill Clinton at graduation in 1993. A champion of tolerance and diversity, Curry also strengthened and deepened the university's commitment to the city, promising scholarship to 100 local sixth-graders who excel in school.
Credited with enhancing the liberal arts, Kenneth G. Ryder began as
a history teacher in 1949 and moved into the administrative ranks in
1955. Under his leadership, the student population grew to 50,000, the
operating budget nearly doubled, sponsored research tripled, and the
endowment quadrupled. Also during his tenure, a $43 million fund-raising
drive was completed, nine buildings were constructed, and work began
on the $34 million Snell Library.
Asa S. Knowles began at Northeastern as a teacher and administrator
in the 1930s, left for 17 years for other administrative work, and then
returned to campus. He decentralized the university's administration,
achieved national prominence for the co-op plan and adult education,
expanded the university's commitment to community service, expanded
the physical plant, and changed Northeastern's image from "technical
school" to one of the country's foremost professional universities.
Known as "Mr. Northeastern," Carl S. Ell
steered the university through a period of unprecedented physical growth
as well as the development of colleges, the growth of co-op, increases
in student population, the expansion of evening education, and advances
in educational status. The Ell years included a construction boom on
campus that resulted in six new buildings: Science Hall (now Mugar),
the Student Center Building and Alumni Auditorium, the library (now
Dodge Hall), the physical education center, Hayden Hall, and a graduate
center (now Churchill).
Son of a steamship builder and operator, Frank Palmer Speare headed the evening program at the Boston YMCA that later became Northeastern. As founding president, he oversaw the launching of several of the university's early schools: the evening law school, the now-defunct automobile school, the evening polytechnic schools, the school of commerce and finance, and the co-operative engineering school.