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President Aoun touts Northeastern’s ‘enormous momentum'

In his State of the University address today, President Joseph E. Aoun declared that Northeastern University is stronger than ever and its “enormous momentum” is accelerating. He said the University is attracting more top students and faculty, expanding co-op and experiential learning opportunities for students around the world, and fostering innovative faculty research aimed at addressing the globe’s greatest societal needs.

Specifically, President Aoun pointed to more applications to the same number of seats than ever before, and more than 200 scholars joining the faculty since 2006. Northeastern students are also participating in more global experiential learning programs than ever — in 160 cities, 69 countries and on all seven continents. Click here to see a video of President Aoun’s address.

“We have accomplished a lot. I am happy, but never satisfied,” President Aoun told hundreds of students, faculty and staff who gathered in the Curry Student Center Ballroom.

The University’s co-op program is a distinctive and transformational model of education that merges study and practice, requiring the entire Northeastern community to be engaged locally and globally, President Aoun said. “We have something special,” he said.

In his address, President Aoun unveiled the Northeastern University Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative, highlighted by the forthcoming establishment of a Center for Research Innovation. The center will promote innovation and entrepreneurship — signature strengths in Northeastern’s character — that will form the basis for new enterprises and strategies in the commercial, public and nonprofit sectors.

Entrepreneurial spirit is flourishing at Northeastern, as students take part in co-op, specialize in entrepreneurship through several degree programs, and engage in other initiatives, student groups and workshops that inspire innovation, imagination and creativity.

Through the center, newly developed “Innovation Teams” of industry experts will work with faculty and students to identify commercial applications for their ideas, and guide them through the business, financial and product development stages.

“The initiative is meant to foster a culture of risk-taking and innovation,” President Aoun said.

Looking to the future, President Aoun outlined the broad themes of the University’s Long Range Plan, which is rooted in the Academic Plan developed in 2007. He also encouraged the entire Northeastern community to help shape the Long Range Plan going forward.

“The plan is an invitation,” he said. “It is merely a framework and not the answer. It’s you who have the answer,” he added calling on the community to take the current success to a higher level.

Later, Provost Stephen W. Director described the University’s plans to implement the Long Range Plan over the next five years in four primary areas: education, faculty, research and student experience.

“This continues to be an exciting time for Northeastern,” he said. “The successful implementation of this Long Range Plan will certainly help Northeastern continue its mission of educating students for a life of fulfillment and accomplishment.”

Director said the University remains committed to developing a broader range of academic programs that are innovative, flexible and incorporate interdisciplinary research. He also pointed to plans to increase the number of undergraduates pursuing international experiences and design more master’s degree programs that offer experiential learning opportunities.

In addition, Director said, Northeastern plans to hire 150 new tenured or tenure-track faculty and fill an estimated 150 faculty vacancies. He said the University would cluster faculty expertise around current and emerging areas of strength at the intersection of disciplines.

The University will also build new interdisciplinary research programs focused on developing practical solutions to societal issues while attracting top faculty and graduate students and invigorating the undergraduate curriculum.

To bolster the student experience, Director said, Northeastern will work to increase financial aid and support broader student extra- and co-curricular offerings.

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