The Question Man
Northeastern alumnus Michael Gries, DMSB’77, PNT’16, was never content with surface explanations. He wanted to understand a situation down to its roots, those who knew him say. So he asked questions, accenting the “how,” “why,” “what if,” and “what then?”
He employed the same tactic as a university corporator and supporter. “Mike was not just trying to understand the consequences of gifts he could make,” says Athletics Director Peter Roby. “He was trying to help us shape our ideas so that his gifts would have greater impact.”
So when Gries passed away suddenly in September, this Northeastern governing board member left a sizable hole—and a legacy just as large.
Gries loved his alma mater, where he was the kicker on the varsity football team and met his future wife, Deborah PAH’77. He credited his co-ops with setting him up for success in finance and investing as the eventual co-founder of the CDG Group.
In 2013, the couple launched a new concept at Northeastern: the Gries Center for Sports Medicine and Performance. The center takes a holistic and data-driven approach to preventing injuries, not just rehabilitation. It also focuses on enhancing student-athletes’ performance through nutrition, training, and competitive psychology.
“Not a day goes by without a student-athlete being positively affected by this facility and the Grieses’ gift,” Roby says.
Gries was clear about his intentions: He wanted to be defined by more than sports. Last spring, he described his approach to philanthropy as “finding the road less traveled,” meaning “the less obvious areas, where you can make the biggest impact.”
So as their daughter, Sarah, prepared to graduate last May, Gries and his wife sought a fitting way to honor her achievement. They endowed the Sarah M. Gries Faculty Excellence Award to recognize exemplary teaching and scholarship within her college, the College of Social Sciences and Humanities. “I think it’s important to leave a philanthropic legacy not just to the university but to my family and to my daughter,” Gries explained. “This fund is now part of Sarah’s legacy.”
Gries had explored the idea with Dean Uta Poiger, whom he called “a forward thinker who is student-focused and determined to empower the faculty.” The admiration was mutual. According to Poiger, “Michael was a true visionary and pioneer. Together with Deborah and Sarah, he developed a legacy that supports an outstanding faculty member, and by extension student work, in the Experiential Liberal Arts.”
A member of Northeastern’s Trustee Development Committee, Gries played a key role in planning the Empower Campaign, and served on the Athletic Fundraising Committee. He also frequently came to campus, sharing his professional expertise with students at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.
“There is simply too much to be said of a man of his caliber,” wrote one who knew and loved him best: his daughter, Sarah. Says his wife, Deborah, “Mike was the most generous person I ever met. His legacy at Northeastern is something I will remain proud of as it continues to help the lives of past, current, and future students.”
At commencement in May 2016, President Joseph E. Aoun joined Deborah Shomberg Gries, PAH’77, and the late Michael Gries, DMSB’77, as they celebrated with daughter, Sarah, SSH’16.
More Empower Stories
‘Best Decision of my Life’
With a gift to fund N.U.in scholarships, Wyatt Lillie, DMSB’18, and his parents are giving other students the opportunity to participate in the program’s unique, immersive experience.
In 2013, Wyatt Lillie was touring colleges in Denver, Miami, and Boston. Then he was accepted to Northeastern’s N.U.in program, which sends students abroad for their first fall semester.
Did he want to study in Greece? Costa Rica? Australia? England? He chose England.
“I’d traveled around the world with my family,” Lillie says, “but N.U.in was an immersive, exhilarating experience. The world is your classroom.” In classes at London’s Foundation for International Education, he discovered the city’s mosaic of ethnic and cultural enclaves and then explored them, visiting markets, religious centers, and businesses.
Arriving at Northeastern for the spring semester, Lillie, DMSB’18, dove into business, global economics, and political science. He also joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity, winning election as president for the 2016–2017 academic year. He’s worked co-ops at Transamerica and The Boston Consulting Group. And in July, he flew back across the pond for classes at the London School of Economics.
“Best decision of my life,” Lillie says of N.U.in and Northeastern. “Unfortunately, I’ve met kids who couldn’t afford either and missed out on an amazing opportunity.” Inspired by his concern, his parents, Jim and Lisa, will fund the first N.U.in scholarships for several years.
“Northeastern is a place where Wyatt can be a leader,” Lisa says. “This gift enables students to take advantage of N.U.in who would otherwise miss a life-shaping experience due to a lack of financial aid for the program.”
By defraying travel and other costs, Wyatt adds, “these scholarships will open more students’ eyes to the world.”
Wyatt Lillie, DMSB’18, and his mother, Lisa.
Co-op’s Indelible Mark
Paul Gavin, Ed’72, is honoring his family and Northeastern’s co-op program with a pledge to support undergraduates who pursue underfunded co-ops.
Paul Gavin, Ed’72, has never stopped telling stories about his three co-ops as a science educator at Boston’s Museum of Science. Take the one about the seven-legged frog.
The mutant amphibian came to Gavin in a shoebox, a gift to the museum’s Live Animal Care Center from a woman and her young son. No sooner had Gavin cracked open the box than the creature leaped out—only to be snared in midair by a resident alligator.
When his laughter subsides, Gavin, who majored in secondary education, turns serious.
“Co-op taught me to speak before hundreds of people, put complex ideas in simple terms, and solve problems,” he says. One such problem involved coaxing an anaconda down from the rafters while calming an audience.
Co-op earned Gavin the School of Education’s “Co-op Student of the Year” award and a contract to teach math and science in Australia. It also inspired him to take risks. After earning a law degree, he founded a firm specializing in divorce litigation and mediation, and became one of the top 1 percent of trial lawyers in the country.
Last fall, Gavin pledged $300,000 to co-op through his estate plan. His gift will launch the Gavin Family Endowed Co-op Fund to support undergraduates in co-ops that are underpaying yet empowering. The fund will come as a surprise to his brothers, all Northeastern alumni. John, E’70, William, E’76, and Philip, LA’82, enjoy successful careers in telecommunications, precision manufacturing, and publishing, respectively—thanks, of course, to co-op.
While on co-op as a science educator at Boston’s Museum of Science, Paul Gavin (near right) explains the mysteries of electricity to a visiting class of schoolchildren.
Leading With a Different Tack
With a historic gift, Gary, DMSB’78, and Lea Anne Dunton are making the business school’s deanship a top priority.
While on co-op with a Fortune 500 company in his third year at Northeastern, Gary Dunton, DMSB’78, found himself watching a dispute unfold between two executives in a board meeting that rapidly escalated into an all-out, expletive-filled verbal sparring match.
Mouth agape, Dunton was embarrassed by their one-upmanship. He vowed to become a business leader who employed a different tack.
“Early on, I learned about the facets of leadership and how to leverage patience, persistence, and honesty,” he says. “That’s a tough package to beat.”
Those traits buoyed Dunton in the competitive finance and insurance industries, he says, and helped him rise to executive roles at Aetna, USF&G, and finally MBIA, Inc., where he served as president, CEO, and chairman.
Effective leaders inspire others and are passionate ambassadors for their organizations, Dunton says. That’s why he and his wife, Lea Anne, are recognizing the D’Amore-McKim School of Business’s foremost position with a historic gift, endowing the first-ever deanship at Northeastern. Through the Dunton Family Deanship, the couple will provide a permanent flow of resources that the dean can use to empower students, advance faculty, and support new and existing programs.
“The business school gave me the credentials and the skills to do well,” says Gary. “We like the direction it’s going in, and we want others to benefit from their experiences as students.”
“We’re proud to link our name to Northeastern,” adds Lea Anne. “The university is like family to us.”
The Duntons have forged many ties to the university besides the deanship. Gary mentors students and is a member of the DMSB Dean’s Executive Council and Northeastern’s corporation, while Lea Anne co-chairs the Parents of Alumni subcommittee and is an advisor to Mosaic, an alliance of student-led organizations that support emerging entrepreneurs. In 2015, daughter Julia graduated, like her father, with a bachelor’s degree in finance.
The Duntons have encouraging words for alumni and friends wanting to get more involved at Northeastern. Find what interests you outside your profession. You’ll make friends and relish the experience, they say. But most of all, “You’ll have fun.”
Autism Research Steps Out of the Lab
With support from Ken, PAH’78, and Patty Dandurand, PT’80, Professor Matthew Goodwin is developing new biosensors to help those with autism spectrum disorder navigate their world.
Matthew Dandurand loved the Red Sox. He was a talented online gamer, and gave his family much joy during his brief 16 years of life. But Asperger’s Syndrome made communication difficult for Matthew, known affectionately as “Matty-O,” and he struggled to navigate the complex interactions required by human relationships.
His father, Ken Dandurand, PAH’78, and mother, Patty, PT’80, saw how hard socialization was for their son. Fortunately, the Dandurands found potential solutions for others like him in the research of Northeastern professor Matthew Goodwin (pictured at right).
Goodwin, an experimental psychologist on the faculties of the Bouvé College of Health Sciences and the College of Computer and Information Science, got involved in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) research in children in the mid-1990s, when public awareness of the condition was rising. At the time, the research literature did not reflect his own clinical observations.
“Most of the science was either phenomenological armchair conjecture or purely lab experimentation—nothing in between,” Goodwin says.
One reason the science didn’t match up, he hypothesized, is that more severely affected people with ASD don’t react well to the laboratory environment. “This got me thinking about using wearable biosensors to study kids outside the lab,” Goodwin says.
These sensor technologies can discreetly measure physical activity, heart rate, and sweating, potentially helping caregivers determine which situations cause negative behavior and sending alerts for support before a tantrum or meltdown.
Goodwin’s focus made sense to the Dandurands, who created the Matthew Dandurand Autism Research Fund—aka the Matty-O Fund—to support Goodwin’s work and honor their son, who died of unrelated causes.
“It’s important to us to help people who, like our son, face challenges communicating with the world,” says Ken. The Dandurands intend to raise money for the fund in an ongoing manner.
Goodwin wants to use data he is gathering with sensor technology to learn which kinds of autism are suitable for which interventions, to fill a big void in the ASD field. “We’re building data-collection systems in kids’ homes and turning them and their parents into citizen-scientists,” he says.
To add to his investigations, Goodwin introduced some design thinking to the Dandurands, piquing their interest with what the three now call an “Un-hackathon.” Their idea: Bring the ASD community together in teams of clinicians, researchers, parents, and even kids with ASD for a brainstorming session at Northeastern.
During a two-day span, groups will explore social and emotional challenges, try out technologies, and conduct thought experiments that may benefit those with ASD. Before the first event, scheduled for 2017, Goodwin will initially hold training sessions to identify kids who embrace the process.
Says Goodwin, “Why not go straight to the people most affected by ASD for fresh insights and ideas? We hope to come up with new strategies my lab and others can explore.”
A Pattern of Success
With a lead gift to Mosaic, Northeastern faculty member Dan Gregory is helping forge alliances between student-run services and startups needing skills in fields from accounting to graphic design.
A host of student-run operations is springing up to support Northeastern startups, offering skills and expertise in fields from accounting to graphic design to software coding. To help these groups forge an alliance, faculty member Dan Gregory made a lead gift last fall, inspiring parents, alumni, and faculty to join in. To date, support for the new initiative—which students named Mosaic—comes to $425,000.
The rise of student-led organizations helping students, faculty, and alumni realize their business dreams is a grass-roots phenomenon, Gregory says. It began six years ago with Northeastern’s student-run venture incubator, IDEA, for which he serves as faculty advisor. Inspired by IDEA’s success with peer-to-peer experiential learning, groups at diverse colleges started offering their know-how to IDEA’s ventures.
The trend picked up steam in 2013, when students at the College of Arts, Media, and Design formed a design studio, Scout, to create logos and packaging for fledgling ventures. At about the same time, law students at the IP Clinic—now called the IP CO-LAB—started teaching ventures about intellectual property law.
Today, Gregory says, student accountants, prototype manufacturers, social enterprise advocates, and other Mosaic members are helping ventures thrive. Instead of seeking specialized skills from outside vendors, entrepreneurs can often find them on campus.
A major goal of Mosaic is to break down silos across campus and give ventures access to the multiple disciplines that entrepreneurship requires. Besides providing administrative support, Mosaic funds will cover expenses for which IDEA or one of Northeastern’s colleges might have picked up the tab—from member services to events, pizza-fueled workshops, and meeting space. To obtain Mosaic funding, member organizations must apply to the Mosaic Council, whose faculty and administrators set priorities.
To understand how Mosaic works, consider its impact on one venture: Wizio. This online platform, a matchmaking service for Boston realtors and renters, got its start at the Husky Startup Challenge, an Entrepreneurs Club contest that helps students turn ideas into companies. After taking first place and the Audience Choice award in April 2015, Wizio won funding from IDEA to build a prototype.
From there, IDEA linked Wizio’s founders to more Mosaic service providers. A Scout team came up with a logo and designed a website. At the School of Law, students with the IP CO-LAB assessed copyright issues, while others at the Community Law Clinic drew up an employee contract. Meanwhile, accounting students who founded D’Amore-McKim’s Accounting Resource Center, known as ARC, outlined the tax advantages of incorporation.
If Mosaic has a theme, Gregory says, it’s cross-college collaboration: “Students across disciplines are helping students, alumni, and faculty launch their ventures.”
DOMINOS IN MOTION
As soon as Gregory kick-started Mosaic, others came forward. They include law and business professor Susan Montgomery, the IP CO-LAB’s faculty advisor; the Northeastern University Young Global Leaders, an alumni group convened by President Joseph E. Aoun; Greg Skloot, DMSB’12, former Entrepreneurs Club president and now, vice president for Growth at Netpulse; and Lea Anne Dunton, PNT, and her husband, Gary, DMSB’78, a Northeastern corporator.
In addition to supporting member groups that are up and running, Mosaic helps new ones get started. Last fall, for example, at the College of Engineering, students formed a hardware-prototyping group they call Generate, housed within the Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education.
Beyond his role at IDEA, Gregory co-directs the Northeastern University Center for Entrepreneurship Education, Mosaic’s administrative home, helping every college foster entrepreneurship. From this vantage, he calls Mosaic’s peer-to-peer, experiential learning model the “secret sauce” behind Northeastern’s thriving entrepreneurial culture, one that “sets us apart from every other university.”
Mindich donates nearly 50 years of archives to Snell Library
Thanks to Stephen Mindich, Boston’s alternative newspaper of record will be preserved for posterity.
For nearly 50 years, The Boston Phoenix was Boston’s alternative newspaper of record, the first word on social justice, politics, as well as the arts and music scene. Its intrepid journalists tackled issues from safe sex and AIDS awareness to gay rights, marriage equality, and the legalization of marijuana. Ads for roommates, romantic mates, and band mates—one could find all these and more in the newspaper’s probing, irreverent, entertaining pages.
It ceased publication in March 2013, but the Phoenix will be preserved for posterity—thanks to owner Stephen Mindich’s decision in September to donate the paper’s archives to Northeastern’s Snell Library.
Snell’s Archives and Special Collections already houses an impressive array of historical records of Boston’s social movements, including civil and political rights, immigrant rights, homelessness, and environmental justice.
“The Phoenix never shied away from covering topics of neighborhood interest, supporting the rights of individuals and groups,” says Will Wakeling, dean of University Libraries. “So it will form a perfect complement to this growing collection.”
Local History Writ Large
Mindich’s gift encompasses much more than The Boston Phoenix. The archives include sister publications in Worcester, Portland, and Providence; Boston After Dark; The Real Paper; the alternative programming of WFNX FM; and Stuff and Stuff at Night magazines. These sources, including a full Web archive of material not included in the print editions, provide a richly nuanced perspective on how people thought and put ideas into action when it came to social issues and social justice from the 1960s to the near-present day. They are documentation of the ways social change happens.
“Our vision for the archives is digitizing all the print and making it fully text-searchable, so all that history lives on,” says Dan Kennedy, associate professor at Northeastern’s School of Journalism and a former Phoenix media columnist and nationally known media commentator.
Adds Wakeling, “As the library works on the complex digitizing strategy, the archives will be made available to the public.”
The Boston Phoenix not only reported on the news, it made the news. In 1987, during the height of the AIDS crisis, it distributed 150,000 condoms to readers. In 2001, Phoenix reporter Kristen Lombardi described troubling patterns in how Catholic church leaders were transferring priests accused of sexually abusing children to new parishes. The alternative weekly also followed the evolving rights of the LGBTQ community.
“A great strength of the paper was also its arts coverage, which is also Stephen’s passion,” notes Kennedy. In 1994, writer Lloyd Schwartz won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for his coverage of classical music. Many former Phoenix writers—Susan Orlean, David Denby, Mark Leibovich, and Michael Rezendes among them—went on to illustrious careers at top U.S. newspapers and magazines.
Though Boston’s antiestablishment spirit has faded somewhat over the years, Mindich’s donation ensures that its history never will. “Scholars and researchers in this area will be licking their lips in anticipation,” says Wakeling.
Northeastern raises Empower campaign goal to $1.25 billion
Senior Vice President for University Advancement Diane MacGillivray announced that Northeastern is taking the historic Empower campaign to new heights, raising its fundraising goal by 25 percent, to $1.25 billion.
This week, Northeastern announced it is taking the Empower campaign to new heights, raising its fundraising goal by 25 percent, to $1.25 billion. The university’s historic campaign seeks $625 million in philanthropy and $625 million in government and industry partnerships. We sat down with University Advancement’s Senior Vice President Diane MacGillivray to discuss Empower.
Why are we raising our goal?
Even as we have been carving out Northeastern’s next strategic plan, we have known that our needs exceed what we intended to raise through Empower. Raising the campaign goal now will enable us to fund more of the initiatives we deem vital to this university’s future. Increased resources will help faculty, who need to be able to master and teach subjects that are constantly emerging. They will buoy students, allowing them to add great value to their fields, and to blaze trails in professions that don’t now exist. More resources will also support researchers, who will need to find solutions to challenges that society hasn’t even realized yet.
These aspirations are going to require immense resources. Thanks to the tremendous support we’ve seen so far—from alumni to parents, from faculty, staff, and students to friends both old and new—we have experienced huge momentum. Raising the campaign goal will enable us to take fuller advantage of this momentum, so that even if we can’t fully fund every last one of our goals, we can stretch them that much further.
You said at the State of the University that every gift includes at least two stories: that of the donor, and that of the beneficiary. Is there a specific story that you’ve found particularly inspiring?
That’s like asking me to choose a favorite child! There are so many inspiring stories. A recent one that comes to mind is about Olga Vitek, a mathematician and scientist who was awarded the Sy and Laurie Sternberg Interdisciplinary Chair. It was an incredible moment when Sy met Olga. His pride was palpable. He truly understands the power of endowed chairs to attract and retain the best faculty at Northeastern.
And there are countless wonderful scholarship stories. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Toju Ometoruwa, a recipient of the Amin and Julie Khoury Scholarship in Entrepreneurship. Toju’s passion for music led him to launch Pickasound, an online forum that allows people from around the globe to collaborate and produce songs together. His work has drawn the interest of local student venture firms as well as our entrepreneurial groups on campus, making him part of the next generation of Northeastern’s entrepreneurs.
The Empower campaign has covered 10 cities. How would you characterize our global community’s response to the campaign, and its impact so far?
From San Francisco to Fort Myers, from Hong Kong to Dubai, we have covered the globe. To date, more than 86,000 individuals have contributed to this campaign from 88 countries. In short, the response has been astounding.
And the stories that come out of these events are terrific. I’ve seen alumni who haven’t been to campus since graduation just dazzled by our students and faculty. I’ve seen graduates from the 1950s having heartwarming—and sometimes surprise—reunions with old friends. I’ve seen prospective students making the decision to attend Northeastern on the spot. I’d say that’s real impact.
In your State of the University address, you also mentioned that more than half of faculty and staff have donated to Empower, while about 1,800 students made contributions to last year’s senior class gift. What does this mean to you, and what does it say about our community, to see this level of investment?
I have been deeply, deeply impressed by the strength of commitment from our faculty, staff, and students. You have all answered the call. The level of faculty and staff giving to Empower puts us in the top quartile of universities nationwide. And the senior class gift participation has been outstanding. In addition to their philanthropic giving, more than 100 students and 100 faculty have taken the opportunity to showcase the exciting research and innovation taking place at Northeastern during Empower events all over the map.
What this says to me is that our Northeastern community gets it: This campaign is about all of us and for all of us. It will determine the path of our future.
What have you learned about Northeastern from your involvement in the Empower campaign?
I’ve seen that the Northeastern community has a remarkable ability to always think about what’s next. That’s our towering strength. And that’s what we will need to succeed in the future as a nimble, global, dynamic institution of higher education, grounded in our signature experiential education programs.
Parents Give a Boost to Family Business Education
Pierre Choueiri and his wife, Maya, are supporting family business education and research with an endowment advancing programs in leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
Although family-owned businesses account for 90 percent of the global economy, they are given little attention at most business schools. Northeastern parent Pierre Choueiri wants to change that.
He is chairman and CEO of Choueiri Group, the leading media representation house in the Middle East and North Africa. Choueiri has adapted the vision of his late father, Antoine—who founded the company in 1970—to the current realities of an ever-shifting marketplace.
“When my father passed the company to me, it was the proudest day of my life,” he says. “But in today’s business climate, education is essential to understanding complex issues faced by family-owned businesses—management succession, ownership control, shareholder relationships—so that the family is running the company, not just owning it.”
Recognizing the D’Amore-McKim School of Business as a leader in family business education and research, Choueiri and his wife, Maya, established the Pierre Choueiri Family Fund for Global Family Enterprise in May. The endowment supports programs in leadership, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
“Students from family businesses come to D’Amore-McKim from all over the world,” Choueiri says, “and it’s gratifying to help them develop specialized skills.” Among those students is his son, Antoine, a third-year business administration major. Choueiri’s other son, Alex, plans to major in music industry when he arrives this fall.
“The Choueiri gift will enable our faculty and students to deepen their understanding of the crucial role of family businesses in the global economy,” says D’Amore-McKim’s dean, Hugh Courtney. “It will generate research that provides the insights necessary to shape successful family enterprises for generations.”
Northeastern breaks fundraising record
Northeastern secured $81.79 million in fundraising during the 2014–15 academic year, far exceeding its goal and marking the highest single-year giving total in its history.
Northeastern University secured $81.79 million in fundraising during the 2014–15 academic year, far exceeding its goal and marking the highest single-year giving total in its history.
The entire Northeastern community worldwide—from students, faculty, and staff to alumni, friends, and university partners—contributed to the remarkable overall giving. Further propelling this momentum in recent years has been the strong support of Northeastern parents and the university’s global partners, from whom commitments have grown rapidly since 2008.
“The unprecedented success at Northeastern today belongs to everyone—our alumni, students, faculty, parents, staff, governing boards, and friends around the world,” said President Joseph E. Aoun. “This record-breaking year shows how a strategic vision is empowered by a global community.”
The record-breaking fundraising year—which topped the previous record of $81.55 million set during the 2012–13 academic year—is powered by the success of Empower: The Campaign for Northeastern University.
The university’s Empower campaign, which publicly launched in May 2013, is a comprehensive fundraising drive to secure $1 billion in support of students, faculty, and research innovation. The campaign will shape the future of teaching, learning, and discovery at Northeastern; amplify the university’s strengths in creativity and entrepreneurship; and redefine its leadership on a global scale.
The unprecedented campaign aims to raise $500 million in philanthropic support and $500 million through industry and government partnerships by 2017, supporting programs that will advance the university’s educational and research enterprise for generations.
More than 86,000 individual donors and 3,200 organizations have supported the Empower campaign. Gifts have targeted an array of university programs and priorities, including financial aid, research, innovation, and global experiential learning.
What’s more, nationally renowned foundations are also increasing their support for academic endeavors at Northeastern. These include a $1.5 million award from the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Foundation to establish the Doherty Chair in Marine and Environmental Sciences in the College of Science; a $1 million award from the W.M. Keck Foundation for research by professor Nian Sun and assistant professor Matteo Rinaldi in the College of Engineering; and a $500,000 award from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support research led by professor David Smith in the College of Computer and Information Science.
“Northeastern’s record year will serve as a catalyst for more exciting opportunities and challenges to come,” said Diane MacGillivray, senior vice president for University Advancement. “With the backing of our amazing donors and partners, the university is more than up for the task.”
Northeastern has connected with thousands of members of the university community through the Empower campaign, including at events last year in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Washington, D.C., and Fort Myers, Florida. In November, Northeastern will host an Empower event in Philadelphia. Guests at these events experience the future of Northeastern through interactive exhibits showcasing the innovation, entrepreneurship, and research of the university’s outstanding students, faculty, and alumni.
The Seeds of Social Change
The Juffali family’s transformative gift to Northeastern’s Social Impact Lab is helping lift philanthropy education to the global stage–and empowering students to give strategically.
As the owners of one of Saudi Arabia’s largest global conglomerates, the Juffali family knows the power wealth has to transform society. Since 1946, when the late Ahmed Juffali built the country’s first electrical plant, E.A. Juffali & Brothers has brought industry and prosperity to millions of people.
Like his father, Khaled Juffali is as strategic a philanthropist as he is a business leader. For 30 years, the family’s foundation—which he now leads—has championed education, aided the impoverished, and revolutionized education for intellectually disabled children. And through the Shefa Fund (in Arabic, shefa means “well-being”), which he founded with his wife, Olfat, Saudi Arabia’s elite pool their resources to fight poverty and infectious diseases in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
And yet, Khaled says, the work can be frustrating.
“There is a saying in Islam: ‘Give with the right, but don’t let the left hand know,’ meaning that in your giving, a practice known as Zakat, you must be discreet, to shield the receiver from stigma and avoid self-promotion,” he explains. “The trouble is that there is no way to know where your money is going, or if your goals are being met.”
A NEW ALLIANCE
Last spring, the Juffalis struck a new philanthropic alliance—this time, with Northeastern—to teach a new generation to give strategically. In March, the couple made a transformative gift to Northeastern’s Social Impact Lab, which helps students turn their idealism into action.
While visiting their daughter, Haya, an undergraduate at Northeastern, the Juffalis heard about the lab’s director, Rebecca Riccio, and her pioneering, uniquely experiential brand of philanthropy education, in which students make real-dollar grants to local nonprofits, drawing from a pool of donated funds. Since the launch in 2009 of the lab’s flagship initiative, Northeastern Students4Giving, students have awarded more than $100,000.
Captivated by Riccio’s conviction, the Juffalis endowed the Khaled and Olfat Juffali Directorship of the Social Impact Lab and Global Philanthropy Initiative. They also provided funds to launch partnerships with institutions worldwide to teach others, especially young people, about how strategic giving can maximize philanthropy’s impact.
In February, the family invited Riccio to their home city, Jeddah, to speak at Dar Al-Hekma University, a university for women, where Olfat is a trustee. To a packed auditorium, Riccio described how her students are addressing youth violence, mental health issues, and other challenges.
“Impact and sustainability are important to them,” Riccio says. “But values also matter.”
Young people “with hearts on fire” must also have “humility, respect, and empathy for the communities they hope to benefit,” she says. “Otherwise, their grant making can quickly become an exercise of power and privilege.”
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
The love of humankind runs in the blood of the Juffali clan. Even before Khaled’s father helped found King Abdulaziz University in the 1960s and laid the cornerstone for the Help Center, a school he built for intellectually disabled children in the early 1990s, this family lived the values that Northeastern teaches.
In 2012, Khaled and Olfat launched the Shefa Fund to draw on their country’s untapped philanthropic potential. However, Khaled says, while philanthropy is intrinsic to Islamic culture, it is not always as effective as it could be. Because giving is a private matter, “we lack the power of collective action.”
One solution, he says, is to pool resources for targeted, measurable goals. “When we are delivering vaccines in Yemen and Egypt, we bring donors and friends to show what the money is doing,” Khaled says. “To see results is motivating. Our work is gathering momentum.”
Discerning supporters hold nonprofits accountable, Riccio agrees. “Donors want to know their giving is having an impact.”
But like the Juffalis, Riccio counsels patience, because change can take time. A complex web of actors may aid or impede progress.
“If your mission is to end hunger,” she says, “you must recognize that the problem is not that the world produces too little food. Poverty, war, weak infrastructure, and climate change conspire to leave communities vulnerable.
“Tomorrow’s agents of social change must navigate these realities,” says Riccio.
Word of Northeastern’s initiatives has spread, thanks to Riccio’s visibility as the creator of the world’s first massive open online course, or MOOC, on philanthropy. The MOOC was created in partnership with the Learning by Giving Foundation, established by Doris Buffett, sister of billionaire investor-philanthropist Warren Buffett. Riccio is now the foundation’s academic adviser.
With the Juffalis’ support, Riccio will join forces with educators internationally. At Swinburne University, in Australia, she is already helping educators create their own experiential philanthropy course, and inquiries are coming in from Great Britain, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. In June, as the emcee of the Stockholm Philanthropy Symposium, Riccio galvanized attendees with a talk about Northeastern’s work before introducing keynoter Melinda Gates. Riccio closed the symposium by interviewing renowned primatologist Jane Goodall about philanthropy’s role in sustaining her research.
“As Goodall observed, every one of us gets to choose what difference we make,’” Riccio says. “The Juffalis’ gift empowers students to choose wisely.”
The Juffali family met with President Joseph E. Aoun in March for a signing ceremony in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Left to right: son Ahmed, Khaled, President Aoun, Olfat, and daughter Haya, a third-year international affairs major at Northeastern (not pictured are daughters Lulwa and Dana).
A Savvy Investor Puts Stock in Northeastern
From the age of three, Janet Bullard, MBA’78, wanted to be a businesswoman. Years later, she balanced evening MBA studies at Northeastern with a full-time secretarial job—a job where she was told by her boss, “We would never have a woman managing money.”
Janet Bullard, MBA’78, knows from experience that investments in knowledge pay the best interest.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” she says, “and my education was the foundation of my life.”
Bullard remembers the instant her career took flight. Working full time as a secretary in an investment firm to finance her evening undergraduate studies, she became transfixed by asset management.
“I told my boss, ‘I’d really like to do what you do,’” Bullard says.
His reply: The company would never hire a woman to manage money. “It was a fabulous motivator,” she says, “and the year I graduated from college, I had his job.”
And she didn’t stop there.
As the lone woman among her corporate peers, Bullard knew that a top-performing portfolio and a graduate degree would be key to her success. So after 31 years working for others and earning her MBA at Northeastern, she struck out on her own and today manages assets for 100 clients as founder and president of the one-woman investment advisory firm A.T. Whitehead, Inc., which she named in honor of family members.
At Northeastern’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business, Bullard seeks to help others’ careers soar. With a generous provision in her will, she intends to fund a distinguished professorship, an endowed scholarship, and an international co-op stipend—all in her name.
“I want each student to be the best person they can be,” Bullard says. “Not only academically, but as a balanced individual who relishes life because they’re prepared and well-equipped for it.”
Ready All, Row!
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the men’s rowing program at Northeastern—and pacesetting philanthropic gifts are helping today’s oarsmen pull past the competition.
In rowing, the oarsman in the seat closest to the stern is known as the stroke. More than a top-notch athlete, the stroke is a human metronome, the one who sets the team’s cadence both in and out of the water.
“It’s a key leadership role, and a tactical one as well,” explains former Northeastern rower Christopher Meehan, DMSB’75. The stroke sets the pace and calls the rowers’ moves, deciding when to flutter, when to power 10, and when to sprint.
As a former stroke on the university’s storied squads of the early 1970s, Meehan describes rowing as “a total team effort, one that builds a shared sense of responsibility and discipline.” Some of his fondest memories hinge on races won and lost, he says, “and hundreds of other Northeastern rowers feel the same nostalgia and pride.”
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of men’s rowing, Meehan and fellow rowers past and present plan an April reunion regatta on the Charles River in Boston. Their goal: to raise $1 million for new rowing shells, training equipment, and technology.
Since Meehan and his wife, Cynthia, DMSB’86, pledged a $100,000 gift in 2014, others have followed their lead. The funds, and the university’s $5 million renovation of the Henderson Boathouse, could help the current rowing team repeat its 2014 and 2013 top-five national championship finishes.
“We all had a hand in making Northeastern rowing what it is today,” Meehan says. “Let’s get excited about the next 50 years.”
The 2015 milestone commemorates an unexpected Cinderella story. In 1965, a fledgling team, with coach G. Ernest Arlett at the helm, defeated 33 of 34 competitors and earned a berth at England’s prestigious Henley Royal Regatta. Husky crews began turning heads. In 1988, coach Walter S. “Buzz” Congram’s varsity shell posted a first-place finish at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association’s Championship Regatta.
Today’s squad, coached by John Pojednic, aspires to become the number-one force in Division I. With honors that include a gold medal for the second varsity eight boat at the 2014 Eastern Sprints—the team’s first gold in 36 years—this crew is prepared to pull past the competition.
Pictured are Northeastern corporator Chuck Hewitt (left), Larry O’Toole, E’76 (center), and Guy Pronesti, DMSB’00, whose combined philanthropy has helped secure nearly $500,000 toward a $1 million fundraising goal for men’s rowing. To learn more, go to northeastern.edu/empower/mens-rowing-50th.
An Alumna Helps Foster Cultural Exchange
With a gift to the Asian Studies program, Hong Liu will support international research, a new lecture series, innovative course development, and co-ops in Asia.
It was the handshake that shook the world. In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon and China’s Chairman Mao Zedong, the leaders of a democratic superpower and a Communist giant, respectively, ended 25 years of animosity with a historic meeting in Beijing and a gesture of friendship. For Hong Liu, MA’87, MA’89—then a 13-year-old in the metropolis of Tianjin—a mental snapshot of the moment has inspired her own efforts to bridge the two cultures.
Last summer, Liu’s dream of peace and understanding between her native China and America, where she has lived since 1985, moved her to make a $100,000 gift to Northeastern’s Asian Studies program. Liu, who worked in international relations in China before coming to Northeastern for graduate studies in sociology and economics, sees strength in both countries’ ideologies and institutions. “American culture stresses individual rights and freedoms,” says this business owner and public school teacher. “The Chinese emphasize mobilizing people to achieve a common good.”
To foster cultural exchange, the Hong Liu Asian Studies Fund will support international research, a new lecture series, innovative course development, and travel for co-ops and study in Asia. Liu says the fund will enable more faculty and students to “engage in dialogues that remind us how complementary our strengths and challenges really are.”
With an award funded by Hong Liu (left), Patricia Gavelek, a first-year undeclared major at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, will explore the language and culture of China on a Dialogue of Civilizations course in May 2015.
“Northeastern is like family,” says Larry O’Rourke, whose enthusiasm at athletic events, volunteer leadership on the governing board, and generous philanthropic gifts mirror that sentiment.
Like many of his classmates, Larry O’Rourke, DMSB’65, was drawn to Northeastern’s signature co-op program as a means of affording college—and he credits a co-op at United Art Company with launching his career in business merchandising. In a series of roles that capitalized on his outsized people skills, O’Rourke built a wide network of Husky relationships.
“Northeastern is like family,” says O’Rourke, whose enthusiasm for athletic events, volunteer leadership on the governing board, and generous philanthropic gifts to the university mirror that sentiment. In 1989, he established the Sean P. O’Rourke Memorial Scholarship for political science majors in memory of his late son, who like his dad was a Northeastern student. Motivated by a desire to help hardworking undergraduates, O’Rourke set up a charitable remainder trust in 2000 and recently decided to include the university in his will. Both gifts will benefit the scholarship in Sean’s name.
“I really want to contribute to the future of Northeastern and invest in the generations to come,” he says. “Many people think they have to be wealthy to leave a future gift to the university, but that’s not true. Once I took care of my family, I knew I would provide for Northeastern and other charitable interests.”
“We all have to give back in life.”
Healy supports aspiring engineers with $5 million gift to endow new scholarship
James Healy, E’54, is rewarding a spirit of inventiveness in Northeastern students by endowing a new scholarship fund for standout undergraduates with a gift of $5 million.
A childhood fan of airplane models and Erector Sets, James W. Healy, E’54, earned his first patent shortly after graduating from Northeastern’s College of Engineering. He got his idea—a new take on the ubiquitous adjustable Crescent wrench, with a plier’s tight grip—after skinning his knuckles while rebuilding a 1939 Ford convertible.
Today, Healy rewards a spirit of inventiveness in Northeastern students. Recently he endowed a new scholarship fund for standout undergraduates with a gift of $5 million, bringing his total gifts and pledges to the college to more than $9 million.
The James W. Healy Scholars Fund will provide one or more aspiring engineers with full tuition, room, and board, and support exceptional individuals aiming to stay for a graduate degree. In 2006, Healy established a charitable remainder trust for the College of Engineering that he says will ultimately augment this new fund. And in 1999, he funded a Legacy Scholarship to recruit and retain exceptional undergraduates.
Healy is the founder and former president of Healy Systems, Inc., which he started in 1965 as Cambridge Engineering, Inc., and sold in 2006. During a prolific career, he designed and patented several vapor recovery systems to reduce gasoline vapor emissions during vehicle refueling. These systems, which significantly reduce hydrocarbon production, are used by more than 100,000 gas service stations worldwide.
Healy has amassed more than 90 patents so far. Never idle, he’s now focused on wave energy air turbine generator system technology, which has applications in the renewable clean-energy sector. “I view this work as contributing to a better life for people on our planet,” he says.
Healy credits co-op for sparking his interest in mechanical engineering, and for enabling him to earn a salary while he learned on the job. “Co-op made my education possible,” says the inventor, who now makes a Northeastern education possible for other curious, gifted minds.
Co-Op Under the Microscope
By investing in research co-ops, Northeastern trustee Carole Shapazian, LA’66, MS’72, is helping students get ahead.
For budding scientists, research co-ops are the hot new thing at Northeastern. Thanks to trustee Carole Shapazian, LA’66, MS’72, seven Shapazian Scholars have completed co-ops at leading research laboratories, hospitals, and non-profits.
According to Northeastern chemistry professor and department chair Graham Jones, these undergrads showed their mettle by doing PhD-level work. “They dive in for six months, contributing from day one because they’re highly skilled and well-funded.”
Shapazian was so impressed she recently endowed her namesake co-op fund. “I’ve been an advocate for chemistry majors who see research and grad school in their future,” she says, “and Graham ensures a high return on my investment.”
A retired Polaroid Corporation executive, Shapazian attributes much of her success to her three research co-ops. Within a few years of joining the photography giant, she published a paper and was awarded two patents.
“The impact of Carole’s support on our students and on our department’s reputation is impossible to quantify,” Jones says. “When prospective students hear from our graduates, their reaction is, ‘Wow—count me in.’ ”
Razon investment opens doors for international students
Northeastern parent Enrique Razon is helping to bring talented international scholars to campus.
Enrique Razon is a results-oriented man who brings the same focus to his company’s charitable giving as he does to its business plan.
As chair and president of Manila-based International Container Terminal Systems Inc., which operates 27 ports in 19 countries, Razon is optimistic that economic growth in the Philippines will continue, and feels an urgent need to help build his country’s workforce.
That’s why, at his behest, the ICTSI Foundation recently funded two full Northeastern scholarships for Filipino public school graduates.
“It’s easy for successful companies to just give to the poor,” he observes, “but in the long term, education is the better way.”
For many international students, an American education is beyond reach because most scholarships target U.S. citizens. But through Northeastern, Razon is opening doors.
“This is not a gift; it’s an investment,” says Razon, whose daughter Katrina, AMD’14, graduated in May. Higher education shouldn’t be reserved for the wealthy, he says. Students who can’t afford a leading U.S. university “are as smart and capable as anyone. Once empowered, they will be able to build a better country.”
“The ICTSI Foundation supports young talent, which is the engine of prosperity. That’s the strategy here. We need more highly educated people to keep the momentum going.”
An Investor Ignites Discovery
Visionaries like George Kostas, E’43, H’07, are not hemmed in by the seemingly impossible. They surmount obstacles, dive into challenges headlong, and empower others to take action.
Visionaries like George Kostas, E’43, H’07, are not hemmed in by the seemingly impossible. They surmount obstacles, dive into challenges headlong, and empower others to take action. Since 2003, when Kostas began investing in nanotechnology and security research at Northeastern—his three gifts total $16 million—faculty have made rapid gains in biopharmaceuticals, communications, energy, medicine, and defense.
Numbers merely hint at the compounding power of Kostas’ support. In nanotech alone, 36 researchers have joined Northeastern’s faculty. Their work has led to $80 million in new federal and private grants, 200 patents, and more than 1,000 scientific papers.
The key to such yields, Kostas asserts, is putting “as many brains as possible to work on a problem.” To thrust progress into high gear, he says, universities must reimagine their relationship to industry and government. Instead of working in isolation to build technologies on the nanoscale or combat global terrorism, faculty-researchers must link their intellectual creativity to industry’s profit-driven pragmatism and the government’s deep resources.
When Northeastern needed innovation incubators, Kostas provided equipment and facilities, including the 70,000-square-foot George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, for which he pledged $12 million. To this alumnus, the university is a model for doing things differently.
Kostas looks back with pride on so much ingenuity, knowing that society, and the country, will be the better for it. The man whom President Joseph E. Aoun has called a “patriot and a hero” deflects praise, deferring instead to Northeastern’s take-the-lead, mission-driven culture.
“Partnerships that accelerate technologies are the best way to make a positive impact on the world,” Kostas told a gathering of researchers at Northeastern last spring. “Through your creativity, you will not only drive the world’s economy, you will keep your country safe.”
Wenzinger gift fuels academic and research partnerships
When an ambitious student with a great idea hits a stumbling block, the worst outcome is for the idea to be abandoned. Brian Wenzinger, CS’89, is making sure that doesn’t happen here.
When an ambitious student with a great idea hits a stumbling block, what’s the worst that could happen? If guidance and resources are scarce, that student might miss a life-changing opportunity. Investment portfolio manager Brian Wenzinger, CS’89, is ensuring that scenario doesn’t happen at Northeastern.
Mindful that mentorship and funding are frequently lynchpins to success, this pragmatic philanthropist has invested $1 million to establish the Larry Finkelstein Innovative Computing Education Endowment (ICEE) at the College of Computer and Information Science (CCIS). Named for Wenzinger’s collaborator on the project—who is his one-time professor and the college’s former dean—the fund advances academic and research partnerships between students and faculty.
“Computer science is a vast and continually changing field,” Wenzinger observes. “I want to support students who have that creative spark, and push them to experiment and challenge themselves.”
Spurred by his generosity, CCIS faculty and students teamed up to develop and publish Realm of Racket, a computer programming guidebook by freshmen for freshmen. The group wrote and illustrated the manual in graphic novel format, united by a knack for data analysis and problem solving—talents Wenzinger himself uses each day as a principal at AJO, a Philadelphia-based investment adviser firm.
At Northeastern, Wenzinger was a Carl S. Ell Presidential Scholar. “The university gave me the basis for learning and work, and enabled to me to go somewhere in life with the skills that I had.” His gift to launch ICEE is the largest ever made to the college and marks his most recent investment in a long history of giving back to students.
“At the end of the day, my goal is to enhance the educational experience,” he says. “Hopefully other alumni will be inspired to take what I’ve started and build upon it.”
CEO International Forum with Spencer Fung
Businesses must be nimble and flexible to adapt to an evolving global supply chain, Spencer Fung, PA’96, group chief operating officer and executive director of Li & Fung, said Wednesday at Northeastern’s CEO Forum in Hong Kong.
Think about how you got the jeans you’re wearing. As the consumer, your role was pretty simple: You went to the store, tried them on, flashed the plastic, and left with your purchase. But that’s merely the tail end of a massive, complex global process that brought those jeans from initial design to manufacturing to the store where you found them.
Spencer Fung, PA’96, group chief operating officer and executive director of Li & Fung, is immersed in this intricate process. He heads up global infrastructure for Li & Fung, a multinational group headquartered in Hong Kong that engages in the design, development, sourcing, and distribution of consumer goods worldwide. The company manages end-to-end supply chains to connect more than 7,000 retailers and 15,000 suppliers globally through three business networks comprising trading, logistics, and distribution.
Fung, who is also a member of Northeastern’s Board of Trustees, spoke at the university’s CEO International Forum in Hong Kong on May 28.
In his talk titled “New paradigms in global sourcing,” Fung described how the family business was founded in 1906, its global expansion over generations, China’s labor force, and the challenges and opportunities facing the company today.
He said numerous factors shape the global sourcing arena, including the price of raw materials, wages, demographics, trade relations, and political and economic stability. This all makes for a multifaceted global supply chain that’s evolving daily and facing new challenges and opportunities—whether it be consumer trends or needs, regional trade agreements, protocols due to wage inflation, or safety measures following last year’s deadly collapse of a Bangladesh clothing factory.
“If you look at the global sourcing landscape, there is no constant. Almost every week you’re reacting to something,” Fung said. “You have to be nimble, fast, and flexible to be able to change almost on the fly. Otherwise you’ll have no goods to sell, and you’ll have no jeans to wear.”
In welcome remarks, Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun referenced the impact Fung said his own international co-op experience had on his career. Aoun also lauded the opportunities Li & Fung has been providing Northeastern students with in Hong Kong. Northeastern is a global leader in experiential education anchored in its signature co-op program. Since 2006, students have completed experiential learning opportunities in 114 countries.
“We need to increase the opportunities for students to go overseas because we want them to be exploring the world and becoming global citizens,” Aoun said.
For his part, Fung’s job requires him to be closely in tune with the global business world, or risk Li & Fung falling behind its competitors. Along with keeping up with traditional factors that affect the global supply chain, Fung pointed to new forces coming into the fold. Social media has driven companies to be more transparent. The “fast fashion” trend has transformed the industry by dramatically shrinking the production cycle and forcing industry to churn out new clothing options much more quickly than ever before. And omni-channel retailing provides a seamless, integrated customer experience that today’s consumers expect.
Fung said predicting the impact of emerging factors isn’t easy; rather, the key is setting up an infrastructure that can react swiftly to them. To that end, he called 3-D printing “the biggest unknown.”
“Right now, it’s a hobby for enthusiasts or prototyping, but who knows about tomorrow?” he said. “I can imagine a day when there are factories in Mexico or North Carolina with thousands of 3-D printers mass producing products for the consumer and customizing everything. You can even do it at home. What will that do to global supply chains? There are huge social implications.”
In a Q-and-A following his talk, Fung fielded inquires on topics ranging from the work-life balance to family businesses. One attendee asked him to name the biggest competitive pressure facing his business. In response, Fung said, “Our industry is highly fragmented around the world. … As large as we are as a company, we have a small share of global sourcing. Competition is everywhere.” He added: “Being able to compete with these small– and medium-sized entrepreneurial quick-moving units is what we’re going against.”
Wednesday’s event coincided with the launch of Northeastern’s historic Empower campaign in Hong Kong. Launched one year ago, Empower: The Campaign for Northeastern University, is a comprehensive fundraising drive to secure $1 billion in support of programs and initiatives, with a particular focus on three strategic goals: student financial support and financial aid, faculty advancement and expansion, and innovation in education and research.
CEO Breakfast with Karen Kaplan
Hill Holliday Chairman and CEO Karen Kaplan shares her brand storytelling expertise with an audience of CEOs, executives, and business leaders. Her remarks are entitled “Welcome to the Human Era: The New Model for Building Trusted Connections, and What Brands Need to Do About It.”
As chief executive officer of the fourteenth-largest advertising agency in the United States, Karen Kaplan has been a driving force in helping grow Hill Holliday to over $1 billion in annual billings since being hired as a receptionist in 1982. Business Insider and Advertising Age have recognized her as one of the most influential women in advertising today.
Karen shares her brand storytelling expertise with an audience of CEOs, executives, and business leaders. Her remarks are entitled “Welcome to the Human Era: The New Model for Building Trusted Connections, and What Brands Need to Do About It.”
Northeastern opens Rogers Corporation Innovation Center
The opening of the Rogers Corporation Innovation Center at Northeastern’s Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security marks a unique industry-academic partnership that will enhance basic research and develop commercially viable innovations in advanced materials to address global challenges.
When George J. Kostas, E’43, first began conversations with Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun six years ago about establishing a state-of-the-art security research facility, he had a unique vision. The facility—which ultimately opened in 2011 as the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security—would go beyond advancing science and research in one of the nation’s most pressing fields. It would also enable unlikely industry-academic partnerships.
“Today, your vision is becoming a reality,” Aoun said on Tuesday, March 25 at a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the opening of the Rogers Corporation Innovation Center at the 70,000 square foot Kostas Research Institute in Burlington, Mass. The goal of the unique partnership—announced in June 2013—is to advance basic research and develop commercially viable breakthrough innovations in advanced materials to address global challenges for clean energy, Internet connectivity, safety, and security.
“Innovation and creativity are the basis for the future of this country,” Kostas said. “You have established a reputation of being great innovators.” The distinctive collaboration, he said, will improve security for the nation.
The 4,000-square-foot Rogers Corporation Innovation Center was built out over the last year. It is housed within a 9,000-square-foot space at the Kostas Research Institute that includes laboratories, conference rooms, and office space designed to facilitate communication and collaboration between the on-site Rogers staff members and the Northeastern faculty and students working alongside them. It includes space for Northeastern professor Vincent Harris’ spinout company.
With support from Kostas’ endowment, the partnership—which is expected to be the first of many at the institute—will also enable experiential learning opportunities through student research co-ops, sponsored research and development programs, and other industry-classroom interactions.
Since its inception more than 180 years ago as a paper company, Rogers Corporation has had to evolve to accommodate the shifting needs of the American people. Today, the company is a global technology leader in advanced materials and components for consumer and power electronics, transportation, telecommunications, and defense systems.
Rogers CEO Bruce Hoechner noted that perhaps the biggest evolution—and revolution—facing society today is technology. In an effort to match the pace of technological change, the company sought an academic partner to help it innovate more rapidly. Hoechner said Rogers was drawn to Northeastern because of its commitment to use-inspired research that addresses global challenges—particularly in health, security, and sustainability.
“We felt very much at home here,” Hoechner said. “We knew that we could find an academic organization here that was not only focused on developing new and great technology but also technology that has great application for the world.”
Aoun, for his part, noted that universities have traditionally shied away from industry partnerships. As a result, “they have restricted their impact on society,” he said. “This is why I’m very excited about this partnership—yes it’s unique, but it’s going to bring us together along different dimensions.”
First, Aoun said, the discoveries and technologies developed in universities only have impact when they meet the consumer. Second, lifting financial burden off of researchers enables a reverse innovation that allows products to enter the market more rapidly.
“We have to have a mindset that will bring together technology, consumers, cost, and—more importantly—the safety of the nation,” he said.
Largest marine biorepository finds home in Nahant
Thanks to the generosity of New England Biolabs and other private donors, Ocean Genome Legacy will continue and likely expand at its new location at Northeastern. Watch this video to see how OGL is saving the DNA of many marine species every day.
Preserving our oceans is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind today. Fortunately, Ocean Genome Legacy (OGL) has come to Northeastern’s Marine Science Center to advance its mission of sustaining the biological diversity of the sea. Founded in 2001 by Dr. Donald Comb, who is also founder and former CEO of New England Biolabs, OGL is a one-of-a-kind genomic collection that includes some of the ocean’s rarest, strangest, and most remarkable creatures.
Thanks to the generosity of New England Biolabs and other private donors, OGL will continue and likely expand at its new location at Northeastern. Watch this video to see how OGL is saving the DNA of many marine species every day.
Women Who Inspire: Sustainability
This Women Who Inspire speaker series event honors women in renewable energy, climate change, and sustainability. Practically Green founder and CEO Susan Hunt Stevens moderates a panel of global business leaders.
Mindy Lubber is the president of Ceres, a nonprofit organization that’s mobilizing businesses to integrate sustainability into their bottom lines. She manages a $10 trillion investment fund focused on evaluating the business risks and opportunities of climate change. Her journey to success began as an eager undergraduate student—just like many of those in the audience she addressed Tuesday night in the fifth event in Northeastern University’s Women Who Inspire series.
While fighting for consumer rights with Ralph Nader in New York, Lubber recalled, she was challenged by the former leader of the green party and environmental icon to take the issue to the state capitol and try to change the law. At first, she wondered how much an undergraduate could really change. But “lo and behold, we passed the law.”
“The way that empowered me and the way I want the students in this room to walk out and understand is that we each can change the world,” Lubber said. “It was an extraordinary feeling.”
The Women Who Inspire series is designed to promote the advancement of women and inspire the next generation of female leaders in technology, engineering, science and sustainability. Tuesday night’s event featured a panel of innovative women leaders in renewable energy, climate change, and sustainability who discussed their own careers and global growth of green industries.
“Sustainability is one of the most compelling and urgent issues that we have facing us today,” Diane MacGillivray, senior vice president for university advancement, said in welcome remarks.
Joining Lubber on the esteemed panel were Marcy Reed, AP’86, president of National Grid in Massachusetts, and Wendi Goldsmith, CEO of Bioengineering Group. Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO of Practically Green, a leading technology provider of sustainability engagement programs for global companies, moderated the event.
Years ago, environmentalism was considered a four-letter-word for companies, the purview of dreadlock-donning hippies and “tree huggers.” But Reed said in the last 10 years, “the space has undergone a 180 transformation.”
“It’s become a business imperative,” said Reed, whose company stands with hundreds of companies worldwide that are incorporating sustainability practices and policies into the very fabric of their organizations. “The world is changing. We need to be part of it, we need to help shape it.”
Reed said that for National Grid, which now relies on a solar energy to produce 400 megawatts of power each year (that’s about the size of a small power plant), sustainability also presents a social imperative that affects jobs, customers, and moving society forward.
Goldsmith, for her part, noted that when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, her company helped the city rebuild—while simultaneously building its own reputation as a leader in sustainability.
She said companies today have to play an increasingly active role in identifying and embracing the next generation of solutions. “So many people don’t know that we now have the world’s most advanced [sustainable] infrastructure,” said Goldsmith, who noted that such sustainability efforts helped save Louisiana from more than $30 million in damage when Hurricane Isaac struck in 2012.
Lubber explained how similar investments would continue to strengthen the U.S. economy, noting that the clean technology industry is expected to be valued at $36 trillion by 2050. “Energy efficiency is a massive opportunity,” she said. The panelists noted that this opportunity would take shape as companies invest in clean energy technologies that already exist—such as solar panels, windmills, and biofuel—and the innovative green technologies of tomorrow.
“What’s really exciting is all the stuff we haven’t even thought of yet,” Goldsmith said.
Bringing the conversation back to the students in the audience, Hunt Stevens urged them to consider opportunities in the green industries.
“This industry needs you,” she said. “It needs the world’s best marketers; it needs the world’s best accountants; it needs the world’s best engineers and software developers, and customer service people. There is a huge opportunity in this space for you to do well and to do good.”
Written by Angela Herring. Photo by Brooks Canaday.
Northeastern hosts Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian
Alexis Ohanian, open internet activist and co-founder of Reddit, came to Northeastern’s campus to speak to an audience of nearly 500 students, faculty, and alumni as part of his Without Their Permission book tour.
Alexis Ohanian, open internet activist and co-founder of Reddit, came to Northeastern’s campus to speak to an audience of nearly 500 students, faculty, and alumni as part of his Without Their Permission book tour. During his hour on stage, Alexis shared his story and gave advice to budding entrepreneurs. He also interviewed Northeastern alumnus Michael Norman, CSSH’05 about his crowdfunding investment platform, Wefunder.
Alexis encouraged Huskies to “get in the habit of taking ideas and executing them.” Mike’s advice – “Be diverse with co-op and learn about how the world works.”
Northeastern’s Entrepreneurship Club hosted the event in Blackman Auditorium as part of their weekly speaker series. The Empower Campaign provided video coverage.
Northeastern to build state-of-the-art science and engineering complex
Northeastern University has announced plans to build a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary science and engineering research facility, scheduled for completion in fall 2016.
Northeastern University has announced plans to build a state-of-the-art interdisciplinary science and engineering research facility in Roxbury on Columbus Avenue. Scheduled for completion in fall 2016, the new complex will provide 220,000 square feet of research and educational space and is part of the university’s ongoing effort to expand its capacity to engage in path-breaking research across disciplines.
“This new complex is the canvas upon which our faculty colleagues, students, and staff will produce the next generation of breakthroughs,” said Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun. “It will be a hub of scholarship and teaching and will significantly advance our mission as a use-inspired research university. We are also proud to create the first private research development in Roxbury.”
The interdisciplinary science and engineering complex will be located next to the expanding Ruggles MBTA station and house wet and dry lab facilities, educational laboratories, classroom space, and offices for faculty and graduate students. It will feature cutting-edge scientific equipment to be shared by researchers from Northeastern’s College of Science, Bouvé College of Health Sciences, College of Engineering, and College of Computer and Information Science. The project will also include a 280-seat auditorium and a large atrium with a spiral staircase.
The six-story facility will be designed with open shared laboratory space, and numerous areas that promote informal serendipitous discussions will foster interdisciplinary collaboration. Through the liberal use of glass walls, faculty, students, and visitors will be able to view a broad range of research activities that are underway.
“Solutions to many of the world’s most pressing challenges are created at the intersection of disciplines,” said Stephen W. Director, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Our integrated science and engineering complex will allow Northeastern researchers to address challenges across many fields, with particular emphasis on our signature research themes of health, security, and sustainability.”
Construction of the new facility will provide much-needed space for Northeastern’s ongoing faculty-hiring initiative. Over the past seven years, the university has recruited 387 new tenured and tenure-track faculty members, many of whom have joint appointments across academic disciplines. The university is continuing to recruit tenured and tenure-track faculty at a record pace.
Northeastern has increased its annual research funding by more than 100 percent since 2006, and in the 2011–2012 academic year the university received more than $100 million in external research funding. The university is also diversifying its research funding by deliberately increasing support from philanthropic and corporate sources, not just government grants.
The new LEED-certified facility will be constructed on a 3.5-acre parcel owned by Northeastern and currently used as surface parking. The site’s development provides an opportunity to strengthen the Columbus Avenue corridor, improve pedestrian connections, and create new open space and streetscape amenities to be shared with the surrounding community. The project represents an investment by the university of approximately $225 million.
Designed by the architectural firm Payette, the project also includes plans to construct a unique pedestrian bridge over the MBTA Orange Line, commuter rail, and Amtrak tracks. The bridge—similar to New York City’s “Highline”—will connect two distinct sections of Northeastern’s campus and bolster the university’s strong ties to its surrounding communities.
The new science complex is a key part of Northeastern’s Institutional Master Plan, which university officials developed over the past two years in collaboration with faculty, students, staff, city planners, and campus neighbors. The plan was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority on November 14.
“At the outset of this process we identified mutuality, respect, and transparency as our guiding principles,” said Ralph Martin II, senior vice president and general counsel, who spearheaded the Institutional Master Plan Process. “After nearly two years of discussion, debate, and negotiations with elected officials and neighbors, and guided by the redevelopment authority, we believe we have a plan that serves those principles and will have a transformational effect on both Northeastern and our neighborhoods.”
IDEA, School of Law team up to support local startups
Through a new partnership between IDEA and the School of Law’s Community Business Clinic, the Boston-based entrepreneurs unaffiliated with Northeastern have been accepted to the university’s student-run venture accelerator for the first time ever.
Through a new partnership between IDEA and the School of Law’s Community Business Clinic, the Boston-based entrepreneurs unaffiliated with Northeastern have been accepted to the university’s student-run venture accelerator for the first time ever.
The clinic, directed by law professor Peter Sessa, offers law students real-world experience in providing free, business-related legal services to startups, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in the Boston area.
“This is the real practice of law,” Sessa explained. “It’s not a simulation course. We expect the unexpected.”
Sessa’s clinic teamed up with IDEA to provide three of its clients with business support from IDEA that is typically reserved for startups with a Northeastern affiliation. Previously, unaffiliated clients could attend workshops and receive coaching from the IDEA staff but could not get funding—until now. IDEA’s $1,000 Prototype Fund Grants will be available to these ventures.
“The value added is the coaching, mentoring, and business planning support we can provide them,” said Max Kaye, CEO of IDEA. “This was a community outreach opportunity for us.”
Students in the clinic selected three of their clients to join IDEA: Pixel Life, an underground and hip-hop clothing brand founded by Northeastern psychology major Vlad Dimitrov, S’15; Envite Design, a design and production company; and Practice Gigs, a social networking platform that helps athletes find practice partners.
Toni Oloko, the 17-year-old Boston Trinity Academy student who started Practice Gigs, spoke highly of working with Northeastern. “My experience with IDEA and the Community Business Clinic has been great,” Oloko said, noting that a mentor at the Small Businesses Association referred him to the law school clinic. “With their help, Practice Gigs Inc. attended NEXPO in November, but more importantly we have received advice on our business model and business plan.”
Kaye has received positive feedback from all three ventures, which have already attended workshops on business modeling, pitching, and financing. Last month, Envite Design joined Practice Gigs in participating in NEXPO, a biannual entrepreneurship exposition hosted by IDEA.
The law students, for their part, are also benefiting from this new partnership. According to Sessa, their service has taught them the importance of collaboration and delegation.
“All new lawyers experience some stress because they think they need the answers to all their clients’ questions,” Sessa explained. “My students learn the value of collaboration and being able to send their clients to another resource for certain questions.”
January marked the beginning of the law school’s second quarter of the year, which means new clients and new students for Sessa’s clinic. Both he and Kaye said they hope to add three new ventures to the IDEA family in addition to the original three, which are expected to continue working with IDEA.
“The sky is the limit as far as I’m concerned,” Sessa said.
Empowerfest celebrates Northeastern’s past, present, and future
The Northeastern community celebrated the university-wide launch of its $1 billion Empower campaign with Empowerfest on November 15-16.
On November 15-16, the Northeastern community celebrated the university-wide launch of its $1 billion Empower campaign with Empowerfest, an exciting showcase featuring dozens of interactive exhibits that highlighted innovative student and faculty research projects, as well as musical performances, food and many fun activities for all ages.
Empowerfest served as the centerpiece of Homecoming Weekend, which brought together generations of alumni and students, faculty, staff, and friends to celebrate the university’s momentum and show their Northeastern pride.
Empowerfest took over the Cabot Field House with global experiential learning, use-inspired research, entrepreneurship and innovation, and athletics woven through the myriad hands-on activities. These exhibits included startups supported by IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator; a closer look at the university’s new 3-D Printing Studio; live touch tanks featuring species at the center of some of Northeastern’s marine science research; interactive cybersecurity, and game design demos; and global endeavors from Northeastern’s Social Entrepreneurship Institute.
“Many of you have told me that you love what you are seeing here today,” President Joseph E. Aoun said during his welcoming remarks. “But this didn’t happen by itself. The students, staff, and faculty have been working hard. But more importantly, you empowered them. You made it happen because many of you have invested in them.”
Faculty and staff received a special preview of Empowerfest on November 15. About 2,000 people attended Empowerfest over the two days.
Diane MacGillivray, senior vice president of university advancement, said celebrating Empowerfest during Homecoming Weekend allowed for the opportunity for Northeastern to honor its past while also look toward its bright future.
“This is bringing together a wider audience to showcase what is happening on this campus,” MacGillivray said. “We wanted people to come and rediscover the pride of not just what has happened, but what is happening. A lot of people have expressed amazement this is happening at Northeastern.”
In May, Northeastern announced the launch of Empower: The Campaign for Northeastern University, a comprehensive fundraising drive to secure $1 billion in support of programs and initiatives, with a particular focus on three strategic goals: student financial support and financial aid, faculty advancement and expansion, and innovation in education and research.
The unprecedented campaign aims to raise $500 million in philanthropic support and $500 million through industry and government partnerships by 2017, which together will shape the future of teaching, learning, and innovation in education and research.
Richard A. D’Amore, DMSB’76, co-chair of the Empower campaign, welcomed guests on November 16 and said it was great to see all of Northeastern’s hard work in action. Last year, D’Amore teamed up with fellow campaign co-chair Alan McKim, DMSB’88, to make a combined $60 million gift—the largest philanthropic investment in Northeastern’s history and which renamed the business school the D’Amore-McKim School of Business.
“It is fabulous to see the energy,” D’Amore exclaimed. “We know all the metrics that are happening around here, the applications, the quality of the students, the great faculty hiring, but to see it all in action is just great for us. We are all lucky to be part of this fabulous institution. We all have to support it to the extent we can. ”
Homecoming Weekend also allowed students, faculty, staff, and alumni to see many of Northeastern’s athletics teams in action. Women’s volleyball held two games on campus, fans celebrated their Husky spirit at FanFest prior to the men’s hockey game against New Hampshire, and men’s basketball earned its first victory of the year by winning its home opener against Central Connecticut State, 83–69.
The Varsity Club Hall of Fame, which recognizes the accomplishments of Northeastern student-athletes, coaches, and benefactors, held an induction ceremony and dinner on November 16 to welcome six new inductees.
The Northeastern Choral Society hosted an alumni reception as a lead up to its November 17 concert at Jordan Hall, which marked professor Joshua Jacobson’s 40 years as its conductor. And the sixth annual Big Dog 5k road race and walk was held in Dedham, with participants finishing the new course on the revamped athletic track at Northeastern’s Dedham campus.
At Empowerfest, every aspect of Northeastern’s momentum was on display. Visitors got an up-close look at the real and robotic creatures from the Marine Science Center and ventured over to the Game Design Dome to play a variety of video games designed in campus facilities.
Attendees used the iCRAFT, an eye-controlled robotic feeding arm developed by Northeastern students, to pick up candy, and enjoyed performances by musical groups on campus. As an added bonus, visitors also had the opportunity to get their photo taken with the Boston Red Sox 2013 World Series trophy.
“It’s interesting to see the huge expansion taking place since I walked these hallowed halls,” said Phillip Mecajni, a double Husky who earned his undergraduate degree in engineer technology in 1976 and his MBA in 1978.
Ali Fraenkel, class of 2016, was one of several students manning the booth for Northeastern Students4Giving booth, an experiential philanthropy education program that combines rigorous academic content with real-dollar grant making. She said the two-day event was a great success. “It’s great to touch upon what we do,” Fraenkel said. “I think it has been very successful. It was cool to have a wide range of conversations and gauge people’s interest based on those conversations.”
“Whatever your passion is, choose a piece of this university and make it happen,” Aoun told the crowd.
Empower campaign surpasses fiscal year 2013 goal, raising $63.3 million
On the heels of the official announcement in May of the Empower campaign, Northeastern announced that the university has secured $63.3 million in new gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2013, handily surpassing the year’s goal by $8.3 million.
Despite challenging economic times, Northeastern secured $63.3 million in new gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2013, handily surpassing the year’s goal by $8.3 million. That announcement comes on the heels of the official launch in May of Empower: The Campaign for Northeastern University, the most ambitious fundraising effort in the university’s history.
The kickoff of Empower was punctuated this week by the release of the campaign’s official website. Mirroring Northeastern’s innovation-driven ethos, the site not only announces gifts of all sizes, but also invites alumni and other supporters to explore inspiring stories of student and faculty empowerment—and to share their own memories and anecdotes about formative Northeastern experiences and relationships.
Support from all members of the community—alumni, students, parents, friends, and university partners—has been integral to Northeastern’s rise as a global, experiential research university. Since 2006, Northeastern’s annual fundraising has more than doubled. Undergraduate alumni set a record for giving in fiscal year 2013, with an impressive 13,103 individuals making gifts.
“Northeastern has a bold vision for the future, and the philanthropic support of our community and friends is giving life to that vision,” said Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun. “Our momentum is unprecedented. Our goal is to sustain it for generations to come by remaining at the leading edge of research, and by continuing to attract world-class students and faculty.”
True to its global character, Northeastern followed the Empower campaign’s official launch in Boston with celebrations in July in London and Paris. Nearly 150 members of the university’s international community gathered to celebrate the campaign’s public phase—the point at which, with significant funding in hand, an institution calls upon every constituent for support. Northeastern seeks to raise $500 million from generous donors on one hand, and $500 million from corporations, university alliances, and government on the other.
“At Northeastern, these funds are highly interdependent and synergistic,” said Diane N. MacGillivray, senior vice president for university advancement. “A donor’s gift may support a faculty member, who brings in grants—which ignite discoveries, inspiring additional gifts. Philanthropy has the power to change lives—both of those who give and those who benefit.”
During the coming months, Northeastern will continue hosting Empower events across the country and around the world. And on November 15–16, Homecoming Weekend, the greater university community will convene for exciting, family-friendly campaign celebrations. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the future of Northeastern through interactive exhibits showcasing the innovation, entrepreneurship, and research of exceptional students, faculty, and alumni.
Empower campaign supporters are already making a remarkable impact across disciplines at Northeastern. They have established a pioneering partnership with the Ocean Genome Legacy Center of New England Biolabs to house a renowned collection of marine genome samples; the innovative Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education; and the Northeastern University-Boston Ballet Education Program, a groundbreaking educational program to help professional ballet dancers earn undergraduate and graduate degrees and to prepare them for careers after dancing.
For details and updates on the Empower campaign—and to share the story of how Northeastern has empowered you—visit northeastern.edu/empower.
College education ahead of a dancer’s final curtain call
Northeastern University and the Boston Ballet have created a comprehensive educational program to help professional ballet dancers earn college degrees and to prepare them for careers after dancing.
Northeastern University and the Boston Ballet have created a comprehensive educational program to help professional ballet dancers earn college degrees and to prepare them for careers after dancing.
The innovative partnership, which was profiled by The Boston Globe, provides flexible and customized opportunities for Boston Ballet dancers to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees and to take advantage of experiential learning programs, including Northeastern’s renowned co-op model. The university will provide access to its robust infrastructure of academic courses and career coaching resources and work with qualified candidates to streamline the admissions and enrollment processes.
The first-in-the-nation initiative—called the Northeastern University-Boston Ballet Education Program—is backed by a combined gift from two Boston Ballet board members: chairman Jack R. Meyer and Henri Termeer. Meyer is the CEO Convexity Capital Management. Termeer is the former CEO and chairman of Genzyme Corporation and a pioneer in developing and delivering treatments for rare genetic diseases.
“Henri, Jack, and our institutions share a dedication to excellence, culture, education, and the growth of the human spirit,” said Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University. “This partnership is exemplary of academia and the arts advancing the future of human talent.”
Through the Northeastern University-Boston Ballet Education Program professional dancers will earn undergraduate or graduate degrees through the College of Professional Studies in disciplines of their choosing. A scholarship fund has been established to cover 80 percent of the tuition and costs for each of 16 company dancers starting this month. Dancers will be able to complete their undergraduate degrees in roughly six years.
The program also capitalizes on Northeastern’s leadership in developing hybrid, flexible degree programs designed to meet the individual needs and interests of talented professionals. Company dancers will take courses on campus, at the Boston Ballet, and online. They will also receive a range of experiential-learning opportunities—including co-op and internships—that align with their career goals.
Since its founding in 1963, Boston Ballet has evolved into one of the world’s leading ballet companies. It attracts dancers from around the globe–17 countries are currently represented.
While the dancers are at the very top of their profession, very few have college degrees. Northeastern’s commitment to global education, research, and experiences dovetails with the Ballet’s mission so the partnership between the two institutions complement each other well.
“The intense rehearsal and performance schedules of the dancers make it nearly impossible to earn a college degree,” said Meyer. “The Northeastern program provides the flexibility and coaching that will allow them to earn a degree while still dancing.”
“Northeastern is the perfect match for Boston’s Ballet,” said Termeer. “They are at the leading edge of flexible education and have gone all out to make this program a success. We are optimistic that our partnership will expand as we get to know one another.”
Mikko Nissinen, artistic director of Boston Ballet, is equally excited about the partnership. “We are all thrilled about this new collaboration with Northeastern. The opportunity is truly a dream come true for today’s professional dancer,” he said.
Boston Ballet executive director, Barry Hughson, also sees the partnership as crucial to the evolution of the dance business model, adding, “The future of our industry depends on the talent of our dancers. Our ability to attract, retain, and educate a world-class dance force will ensure the sustainability of not only Boston Ballet—but the arts industry as a whole.”