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President Aoun appoints Social Impact Council co-chairs

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun has appointed Bruce Ronkin, interim dean of the College of Arts, Media and Design and a professor of music, and Madeleine Estabrook, associate vice president for student affairs, as co-chairs of the university’s Social Impact Council.

Aoun announced plans to convene the council at the State of the University in November. The council will serve as an inclusive venue to discuss and address issues of social impact related to the university’s activities and engagement. The council will include students, faculty, and staff and “will reflect the diversity of voices in our community,” he said.

The council’s work will dovetail with what Aoun called the cornerstones of the Northeastern community: diversity and shared values.

“A university like ours is built on ideas,” Aoun proclaimed at the State of the University. “These ideas are incredibly diverse by definition, and they range across the full intellectual landscape. They may clash. They may spur disagreement. But they must all be voiced in the clear air of tolerance and respect. If we are to be effective scholars, teachers, and learners, difference of opinion must flourish.”

He added, “A community must stand united in its shared values. … Our shared values must nurture diversity of opinion, but they must also preserve the environment in which we can all work, learn, and make an impact.”

The council will serve as a forum for community members to seek a review of issues of perceived “social impact” with respect to the university’s activities and engagements. These issues would include—but are not limited to—the university’s investments, how the university sources its branded merchandise, and the university’s engagements with outside entities, including businesses and other partners. In addition, the council may offer insights and recommendations on ways the university can act as a socially responsible institution.

“I am excited to be asked to participate and look forward to engaging students and other members of our community in an active dialogue of issues of social responsibility and social impact,” Estabrook said.

Ronkin added, “The opportunity to facilitate serious conversations about significant issues facing our university community is an important one, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”

The council will comprise four appointed faculty members and four appointed administrators, as well as no fewer than 12 students selected from a group of 25 students nominated by the Student Government Association and the Graduate Student Government. The council members will be announced in January, and the council’s first meeting will be held shortly thereafter.

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