Northeastern business professor fills chair created by international ‘pioneers’

ruth v aguilera speaking at glass podium
Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

Ruth V. Aguilera, an acclaimed professor at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, was honored Wednesday at a Northeastern event that celebrated scholarly support and excellence.

Aguilera was formally invested as the holder of the Darla and Fred Brodsky Trustee Professor in Global Business. The entrepreneurial Brodskys were cited by Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun as visionaries who have helped drive the university’s global mission while also supporting D’Amore-McKim’s international business program (BSIB), which is celebrating its 30th year with Aguilera serving among its leading proponents.

“In many ways, you are the pioneers,” Aoun told Darla and Fred Brodsky during the ceremony at East Village. “You showed us the way. You stressed the need for the university to become global. And that’s what we did.”

Aguilera earned the prestigious chair by way of her commitment to global business education and research, said David Madigan, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Northeastern. He lauded Aguilera for ranking among the rare echelon of professors “who have extraordinary impact on students’ lives, who conduct amazing high-impact research and who truly change the world.”

The endowed professorship was the latest honor bestowed upon Aguilera, who was recently awarded a Fellow of the Academy of Management (AOM), the world’s largest society of management scholars.

In combination with her fellowships in the Strategic Management Society (SMS) and the Academy of International Business (AIB), Aguilera has achieved membership in the “Triple Crown” for international business scholars.

After accepting the medallion from Aoun connoting her new position, Aguilera expressed gratitude to the Brodskys while referring repeatedly to Fred Brodsky’s autobiography, “The Accidental Entrepreneur: How I Stumbled into Success.” After earning a Northeastern business administration degree in 1966, Brodsky traveled the world, learning universal business lessons that enabled his success in real estate investment and development.

“Your commitment to promoting and fostering the study of international business, and your early awareness 30 years ago of how important that commitment would become, is in keeping with my own,” Aguilera said to the Brodskys. 

She cited three timeless lessons from Fred Brodsky’s book: 

  • Choose your partners carefully.
  • If something seems too good to be true, take a closer look.
  • Share a deep sense of gratitude with those who took you on their journey.

The event also helped mark the 100th anniversary of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. 

“Doing business today requires a global mindset,” said Emery Trahan, interim dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. “Our BSIB program provides our students with the opportunities to immerse themselves in a transformative global experience. The BSIB is truly aligned with Northeastern values and mission: It’s experiential, it’s global, it teaches our students to be culturally agile, and it’s all about impact in the world.”

The changing dynamics of international business were detailed in a panel discussion moderated by Nicholas Athanassiou, associate professor emeritus of international business and strategy.

The panel featured Harry Lane, professor emeritus of international business and inaugural holder of the Brodsky professorship; Ravi Sarathy, professor of international business and strategy as well as the current head of BSIB; Katrin Bouss, a BSIB student from Germany who will graduate in December; and Aguilera.

Aguilera spoke of the global changes wrought by Russia’s war in Ukraine as well as the international trend toward businesses that extend their focus on the needs of people and the planet.

“President Aoun has really chartered us with unleashing experiential learning,” said Aguilera, who added that the international curriculum is constantly developing around the anchors of humanics, geopolitical realities, digitalization, big data and other factors.

The BSIB mission is crucial at this time when the international business community is facing a crossroads, Aoun said. 

“When the notion of globalization is under attack, when the world is moving into regionalization, people are asking: ‘Do we want to continue to invest in globalization?’” Aoun said. “And the answer is: ‘More than ever. More than ever.’”

Turning his attention to the Brodskys, Aoun added: “This is why what you have done here is not only seed a chair but transformed a whole university, and we are eternally grateful to you.”

Aoun presented Darla and Fred Brodsky with a distinctive gift.

“It’s a beautiful compass because you travel all over the world,” said Aoun, who then made a joke. “And the compass will always point to Northeastern, wherever you go.”

For media inquiries, please contact Ed Gavaghan at or 617-373-5718.