At Wednesday’s convocation we welcomed the newest members of the Northeastern community—our incoming freshman class. The entire campus becomes energized each year by the arrival of new students to our campus.

The new class was selected from a record-breaking 44,215 applicants—the highest in Northeastern history. It includes students from 46 U.S. states and 81 countries around the world. Thirty-six percent are students of color, and we have achieved a 13 percent increase in the number of under-represented minorities (African American, Latino, and Native American). This diversity enriches our community and strengthens the university.

Academically, these students are remarkably accomplished. The average two-part SAT score of the new class is 1361. This is up from 1230 six years ago, an increase that is unparalleled among our peer schools.

We have also created a new University Scholars program for a select group of high-achieving students. Forty freshmen will enroll as University Scholars and have the opportunity to design an innovative and interdisciplinary curriculum based on their boldest aspirations.

Our returning students have earned a range of awards and honors, ranging from academic distinctions to Olympic medals. Many of our undergraduates, including 141 Presidential Global Scholars, are currently on co-op around the world. Last year, our students participated in experiential learning opportunities in 91 countries —more than ever before.

To quote the late Steve Jobs, these students have the potential to “put a dent in the universe.”

The same can be said of the 72 new tenured and tenure – track faculty  who join us this semester. As part of our ongoing effort to expand and deepen our faculty ranks, this month we welcome these highly accomplished scholars, who are excellent educators and literally changing the shape of their fields through path-breaking research.

We welcome three new Deans to Northeastern this year: Nadine Aubry (Engineering), Hugh Courtney (Business), and Jeremy Paul (Law). These academic leaders were recruited through extensive national searches; I look forward to working with them as we advance our education and research mission across many dimensions.

We promoted 26 of our existing faculty this year, including 18 who earned tenure and eight tenured associate professors who became full professors. The outstanding new faculty we have recruited come because of the outstanding faculty we already have in our ranks.

Students and faculty of this caliber have many choices. They are coming to Northeastern for several reasons: opportunities to explore the world through experiential learning, meaningful research collaborations, and the entrepreneurial spirit that drives everything we do. This is a combination that is unmatched in American higher education.

But there is one more reason these talented people are attracted to Northeastern, and that’s all of you. New students and faculty are attracted by success, momentum, and excitement.

To our current students, thank you for being Northeastern’s best ambassadors. Your new classmates will look to you for guidance and leadership.

To my faculty and staff colleagues, thank you for the work you do on a daily basis to reinforce and strengthen Northeastern’s preeminence. I look forward to working with you during another exciting and productive year.


Joseph E. Aoun