Skip to content

Northeastern University appoints new provost

Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun has appointed James C. Bean as the university’s next provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. Bean will succeed Stephen W. Director, who is completing his seventh year as provost.

Bean’s tenure will begin part time on July 1, 2015, as part of his transition, and will begin full time on Aug. 20, 2015.

“Margaret and I are thrilled to be part of the Northeastern community,” said Bean. “The tremendous momentum of this institution reflects the vision of its leadership, faculty, staff, and students. Northeastern University is evolving a new model of higher education based on excellence, relevance, and engagement. I look forward to joining the evolution.”

Bean comes to Northeastern from the University of Oregon, where he has held several leadership roles, including five years as provost. His academic career has spanned multiple disciplines including business and engineering.

During his tenure as provost at the University of Oregon, Bean managed all aspects of the academic enterprise at a major research university. He guided the university through the Great Recession, and significantly improved the quality of students and faculty, while also modernizing the university’s budgeting system.

“Jim is a multifaceted academic leader, in part because his career has spanned different disciplines,” said President Aoun. “He is extremely adept at designing and managing complex systems, a necessity for a successful provost. Jim also believes firmly in new ideas emerging from innovative faculty collaborations, and will work to empower these discussions.”

Bean also served for four years as dean of the University of Oregon’s business school—the Lundquist College of Business—where he led a community process to reorient the college with the university’s strategic plan. He also served as the Harry B. Miller Professor of Business.

Most recently at the University of Oregon he has served as senior associate dean for academic programs at the Lundquist College of Business, and he led special projects for the university president and business school dean, including a plan for a Division of Interdisciplinary Applied Science and for the university’s innovative sports product management program.

Prior to his time at Oregon, Bean held key leaderships roles at the University of Michigan, including as associate dean for graduate education and international programs in the College of Engineering and as associate dean for academic affairs.

As an engineering faculty member at Michigan, Bean co-directed a unique manufacturing partnership—the Tauber Institute for Global Operations—between the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering, and many industry partners. The award-winning institute facilitates cross-disciplinary education in global operations management.

Bean has also held an advisory faculty position at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai and a visiting position at Laboratoire d’Automatique et d’Analyse des Systems du CNRS in Toulouse, France. He is a widely published scholar who has received grants from both federal institutions and industry, including the National Science Foundation, General Motors, IBM, and the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, and his master’s degree and doctorate in operations research from Stanford University.

Bean’s appointment follows an extensive global search led by Aoun and a provost search committee composed of faculty, students, administrators, and alumni leaders. The committee was chaired by Thomas Webster, the Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engineering and professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, and co-chaired by Professor Carmen Sceppa from the Bouvé College of Health Sciences.

Director began at Northeastern in August 2008. Following the transition this coming August, Director will continue at Northeastern as a senior adviser to the president.

“I want to thank Steve Director for his seven years of outstanding leadership as provost,” added Aoun. “During Steve’s tenure, academic innovation became one of Northeastern’s calling cards. The impact of Steve’s work will be felt in nearly every corner of the university for years to come, including the opening of our new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex in 2016.”