On a crisp, bright afternoon bursting with the promise of spring, the communities of Northeastern gathered Wednesday to celebrate the official naming of the Khoury College of Computer Sciences.
Northeastern’s fastest-growing college was named in honor of Amin and Julie Khoury, who attended the ceremony with members of their family and friends. Khoury, an accomplished entrepreneur who earned his MBA at Northeastern, announced in December that he was providing the college with a $50 million endowment.
“Today is a day of pride and gratitude for the Khoury family, our leadership team, faculty, staff, students,” said Richard D’Amore, chair of the Northeastern University Board of Trustees. “It’s a great day to celebrate where we are and where we’re going.”
Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun led Amin and Julie Khoury in a procession of university trustees and administrators, all attired in cap and gown.
They gathered with hundreds of university students, faculty, and staff in the atrium of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex, a state-of-the-art tower designed for collaboration across a variety of fields and perspectives.
“With this renaming, there is an enormous responsibility for every member of this community to uphold the name,” Aoun said. “But I have news for you: It is also a responsibility for the Khoury family.
“Because your name is going to be attached to this university forever,” said Aoun, turning to face Amin and Julie Khoury. “So each generation will own this name with us, and will have a responsibility to make it shine with us.
“This is your name. This is your school. This is your university.”
The Khoury College of Computer Sciences offers a comprehensive computer science curriculum with particular leadership in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cybersecurity in an increasingly digitally connected world. It is one of the first named colleges of computer science in the United States. Over the past decade, computer science enrollment at Northeastern has skyrocketed, and now stands at 3,474 students. Simultaneously, the academic quality of computer science applicants—already at a high level—continues to rise each year.
Amin Khoury’s story is both inspiring and relevant in a personal way to Northeastern. He was 11 when his family was abandoned by his father, leaving Amin to work all kinds of jobs to help his mother and three siblings make ends meet.
Khoury’s entrepreneurial journey began in Boston in 1968, when Greylock partner Dan Gregory financed Khoury’s medical products and services startup in partnership with Damon Engineering, a Boston-based defense electronics company.
A relentless entrepreneur, Khoury had launched several other companies when he recognized an opportunity in the aerospace industry, which was fragmented, with a number of small players who supplied airlines with various cabin interior components. In 1987, he founded BE Aerospace, which consolidated these airline products under one roof to become the leading global manufacturer and service provider of cabin interiors on behalf of virtually every airline around the world. It is his signature business achievement.
Amin and Julie Khoury met at Northeastern while both were earning their MBAs.
In his remarks Wednesday, D’Amore observed that he and Alan McKim—for whom the D’Amore-McKim School of Business was named in 2012—also knew each other as students at Northeastern.
“You’re going to find this to be one of the most satisfying things you’ve ever done,” D’Amore said to the Khourys. “It’s just so shocking, in the nicest way, to have your name associated with it. When you bump into a young student, and you ask which college he goes to, and he gives you back your name; or when you see a resumé and it has your name on it; or when you see your name on all those diplomas—it’s a lot of fun. It’s well worth the investment.”
Carla Brodley, dean of the Khoury College of Computer Sciences (a position she will retain for the next five years, as announced during the ceremony), said that the Khourys’ gift will enhance the curriculum, faculty and research of the college.
“Our graduates will be sought after by industries eager for the interdisciplinary experience that the world demands,” Brodley said. “Your gift, Amin and Julie, makes actionable what has been up to now aspirational. Our mission is computer science for everyone, and with your support I am so excited about the possibilities of realizing this dream.”
Khoury explained his vision for computer sciences in the context of the Industrial Revolution.
“I think the next revolution is a digital revolution,” Khoury said. “It is really about taking a whole lot of people out of their current impoverished state and bringing them, in the next digital revolution, to a healthier state. It is about leadership and the application of A.I. in the area of health care that excites me most about the Khoury College.”
Khoury’s vision for the Khoury College of Computer Sciences is strongly aligned with the university’s academic plan, Northeastern 2025. As the global economy adapts to the influence of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and cybersecurity, Northeastern is empowering humans to be agile learners, thinkers, and creators, beyond the capacity of any machine.
The event ended with Aoun predicting that the Khoury College will be the premier college in its field within five years.
Aoun asked for groups of people to stand and be recognized in celebration of this “once-in-a-lifetime” occasion and its benefactors: First to rise were Khoury’s family; then members of the Khoury College; and, finally, the entire community of Northeastern, all of whom will benefit from the Khoury’s endowment.
“They wanted the whole world to be impacted by this school and their naming of it,” Aoun said of the Khourys. “They wanted the students to go out and serve their communities and discover new things and make this place a better planet. That’s a tall order. That is what we are all committed to doing.”