Northeastern’s new fundraising campaign launched in four cities around world

northeastern president aoun standing on red stage
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

From high above Bangkok to an autumn field in Oakland, California, faculty, students, alumni and special guests gathered for four special events across three continents as Northeastern University officially launched its ambitious campaign to raise $1.3 billion to support student opportunities, faculty excellence, interdisciplinary research and global exploration, entrepreneurship, and building diverse and inclusive communities.

The Experience Powered by Northeastern campaign was launched in London, Boston, Bangkok and Oakland last week. Over the next five years, the campaign aims to raise $1.3 billion in philanthropic support. It is also embracing the communities across its 13-campus global university system, and aims to reach every student, faculty member, parent and graduate, no matter where they are.

“We are building something unique, we are building something special. We are building something great, but we are doing it in order to serve our students, our communities and the world,” said President Joseph E. Aoun at the Boston event on Oct. 21.

Northeastern is already the only U.S. university with two comprehensive campuses on the East and the West coasts, he said, the only U.S. university in Canada, and the only U.S. university that can provide dual degrees in the U.K. and in the U.S. And it will be the first global experiential university in the world, Aoun said.

The university has been committed to this path because experience allows the faculty to solve problems and impact society, Aoun said, while students learn to understand the world, be engaged with the world and change the world through diverse and inclusive experiences.

“We believe that everything we do has to be experiential and experience cannot be restricted to a city, to a state, a nation. Experience has to be global,” Aoun said.

The Experience Powered by Northeastern campaign will support the vision set out in Northeastern’s academic plan, Experience Unleashed.

“Northeastern University is an ambitious university. It’s an ambitious university filled with ambitious people with ambitious dreams. And our campaign is going to provide the support and the encouragement, and the resources to make those big, ambitious, audacious dreams a reality,” said Diane MacGillivray, senior vice president for university advancement.

The highlight of the evening was a significant donation of $25 million that Alan McKim announced he was making to recognize and honor the leadership of President Aoun.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the power of Northeastern education, and how it transforms students’ lives. It certainly did that for me,” said McKim, who is a 1988 graduate of D’Amore-McKim School of Business, vice chair of Northeastern’s board of trustees and founder and CEO of Clean Harbors. 

Supporting the faculty is a way of touching all areas of the university in driving it forward, McKim said, therefore, his donation will create eight endowed chairs across the university in the name of President Aoun.

“I really wanted to do something for Northeastern to recognize Joseph for his leadership and for his passion for faculty excellence,” he said.

To demonstrate to its supporters the university’s six priorities of future development—student experience; faculty excellence; diverse and inclusive communities; economies, fueled by entrepreneurship; and innovation—Northeastern transformed the Cabot Physical Education Center in Boston into a dramatic, high-tech, interactive and immersive environment with four distinct zones and a round stage in the middle.

In each zone equipped with monitors and surface tools, guests were able to talk to the faculty members and alumni about their crucial, cutting-edge research, initiatives and businesses that were powering a better future.

Zone One was dedicated to a healthy future with equitable health care and new technologies to improve human health. In this zone, guests learned about Northeastern’s cognitive and brain health research; met a Japanese human support robot that the Robotics and Intelligent Vehicles Research Laboratory is working with to advance its capabilities; and observed the only transcranial magnetic stimulation machine in the Northeast and the seventh in the world. The machine gives access to the human nervous system and various connections between the brain and muscles.

In Zone Two, guests saw work that is being done for a sustainable and resilient world, including infrastructure resilience, climate adaptation, and cleaner, safer and smarter coastal communities.  

Zone Three focused on entrepreneurship as the driver for global economies and showcased businesses started by Northeastern alumni in various fields, from health care to nutrition to robotics to wireless charging.

The Northeastern experience culminated in Zone Four, the social change and social impact area, dedicated to empowering real-world projects that improve people’s lives while keeping technological innovation in check in terms of privacy, trust, fairness and responsible development of artificial intelligence and big data systems.


by Jessica Taylor Price

During her time as a Northeastern student, fourth-year international affairs major Lei Nishiuwatoko has been all over the world, earning a year and a half of work experience and becoming a well-rounded global citizen. 

She studied abroad in Rome, did research on arms control and nuclear weapons at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, and is now spending her fall semester at Oxford—all thanks to Northeastern.

Northeastern University – London launched the Experience Powered by Northeastern campaign on Oct. 20 and chose Nishiuwatoko—a student who embodies the university’s vision—to introduce the new global effort. 

When she took the stage at the Devon House in London’s historic financial district, Nishiuwatoko was keen to talk about the impact that these experiences have had on her. 

“I was able to see how what I was studying in school was transferring in real life,” she said. 

While in Geneva, she said, she even had the opportunity to testify at a U.N. negotiation. “That was so impactful for me.”

Now, more students will have the chance to share in this global vision thanks to the Experience Powered by Northeastern campaign. The event was both a celebration of experiential learning and a step forward, bringing together members of Northeastern’s community, including alumni, parents, faculty and students. 

It was also an experience in itself. The modern Devon House was decorated in Northeastern black and red for the event, and the Tower Bridge could be seen lighting up the night sky outside. Attendees were given custom-designed Northeastern shirts, and were treated with music from Northeastern student Anamaya Shore, who sang “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman.”

Attendees then had the opportunity to tour stations highlighting the variety and depth of work being done on campus. British historian and Northeastern assistant professor Estelle Paranque discussed her latest book, “Blood, Fire & Gold: The Story of Elizabeth I and Catherine de Medici,” as well as her fascinating work on female monarchs. 

Stephen Dnes, an associate professor of law, discussed his research on Internet cookies and asked how far companies should go with collecting data. 

Mark Martin, an assistant professor in computer science, was on hand to discuss The Air Pollution Project, where he invites his students to use computer science to monitor air pollution levels.

Northeastern graduate Natasha Davidson was excited to share her gratitude for experiences like these. “I really could not have imagined how much the co-op program would change my life,” said Davidson, who graduated from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business in 1998 and is now a chief marketing officer at the online course provider Coursera. “It’s amazing to see the vision that has come to life.” 


By Min Ye Kyaw – contributor

In a room with a spectacular and sweeping view of Bangkok, glasses were clinking and camera phones were flashing as alumni and guests gathered on the 67th floor of Lebua State Tower.

Luanne M. Kirwin, vice president of development at Northeastern University, opened the Experience Powered event on Oct. 22 with an inspiring speech emphasizing the power of experiential learning.

“Northeastern delivers experiences, and, of course, as we all have learned, experience is actually the world’s most powerful teacher,” Luanne said.

Graduate Sureena Sadchev, a member of the Young Generation community volunteer, studied finance at Northeastern University and minored in economics.

“When I first started out, I had a lot to learn, basically from my classes as well as through co-op programs, because I didn’t really know what finance was like. It was a great experience learning at Northeastern, and besides, I also got a bonus to travel to Rome to study abroad,” Sadchev said.

“Because of Northeastern, I had the chance to work at Wellington Management, a globally recognized investment adviser in the field, as a co-op investment strategy analyst, and it gave me my first good exposure to what the finance industry does. It also helped shape my career by deciding what I’m good at and what I wanted. And then after that, it helped me apply for jobs accordingly after graduation”.

Prapin Abhinorasaeth, of Thailand, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at Northeastern before earning a Ph.D. in 1988.

“It was a good experience. I went with Howard University, the Department of Buildings and Grounds, during my co-op program, and I did the study on the utility distribution at the Howard Medical School in Longwood Medical School in Longwood,” he recalled.

“Experience is the heart of Northeastern and it is how we are creating a better world,” he said.

David Nardone, who earned a bachelor’s degree in 1979 and an MBA in 1982, offered closing remarks.

“After all these amazing years at Northeastern, I am still involved in the school in terms of the Center for Emerging Markets. I am telling you that it’s a perfect place to study in terms of the demographics and students have had such an awesome opportunity with the co-op and then the experiential learning and working overseas,” he said. “Every opportunity awaits you there.”

“The future is up to students,” Nardone said. “They can study in any field since it’s a diverse potential curriculum, whether it’s business or engineering, computer science or nursing. Northeastern University will place them in a really strong position to do anything in their life.”


By Mark Conti

Mills College at Northeastern heralded a new era on Oct. 22  with a celebration of the launch of Northeastern University’s global fundraising campaign, Experience Powered by Northeastern.

Students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff gathered on the Oakland campus for an afternoon celebration.

“One of the main reasons that I chose Northeastern was for co-op opportunities, for the experiential learning. So, in January, I will go work in a company and get hands-on experience, which is an amazing thing that most of the other colleges don’t offer. So I think that is one of the main reasons why Northeastern is so successful,” said Abirami Chockalingam, a graduate student at the Oakland campus seeking a master’s degree in project management.

Carrie Maultsby-Lute, director of The Center for Transformative Action, said she was thrilled to be part of the Northeastern University global campaign.

“Northeastern University is highly collaborative, connecting the public and private sectors, and rich in experiential learning. These are game changers for the students here,” she said.

Supporters were surrounded by the coziness of autumn on Holmgren Meadow, with hay bales, pumpkins, candied apples, cookies, food trucks, Mills Farm flower crowns, masses of fall-colored flowers and a German-style beer garden.

Chockalingam said she enjoyed the food—from Italian to Mexican to Indian, the face-painting, the claw machine, breaking bubbles, painting pumpkins, and making flower bouquets and crowns. She said the innovation center was doing such a good job teaching people to code that even non-computer science students were having success.

After attending the campaign event in Boston, President Aoun flew out to the West Coast to participate in the event Saturday at the Oakland campus. Aoun joined the celebration and even danced onstage with Mills College alumnae Connie Davidson and Myila Granberry. 

First-year student Vishwa Madhusudhanan, a pharmaceutical science major, was happy to grab a Husky stuffed animal at the claw machine, learn to code and get a photo taken with President Aoun. He estimated that at least half the students on campus attended.

“It was nice to have such a huge event on a Saturday. It brought liveliness to the campus during the day,” Madhusudhanan said.  

Northeastern University Senior Vice Provost Mike Pollastri echoed the vision on experiential learning.

“When students graduate, they will have had two job placements and real world experience,” he said. “We are building relationships with companies to generate a skilled workforce.” 

Beth Kochly, interim dean, gave an inspiring view of the future of Mills College at Northeastern.

“We are taking the best of what we have and creating new programs built on the legacy of Mills. This legacy includes building new majors that honor social justice, women’s leadership, racial and gender equality, and community engagement,” she said.

Chockalingam said the event was “amazing” and gave her a chance to bond with family and friends on campus.

“It was so much fun because many, many students and families showed up. I took some of my friends and family to that event. That was the best part. I took two of my brothers and my sister-in-law. They got a chance to meet my friends, and they bonded,” said Chockalingam, who also posted about the event on Instagram.

Kimbery Wainscoat contributed to the story.

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