Whether at our campus in Boston, our graduate campuses in Charlotte and Seattle, or in the hundreds of worldwide locations where our students are pursuing co-ops and international learning experiences, the entire Northeastern community is invigorated by the start of a new academic year.  The energy was palpable in Matthews Arena yesterday as we welcomed the 116th entering class – 2,800 students drawn from a record-breaking pool of 47,364, the largest number of applicants for a freshman class in Northeastern’s history.

Like our returning students, our new students are incredibly diverse and accomplished.  More than a third of our entering students from the U.S. are students of color.  Overall, the new class hails from 46 states and 88 countries around the world.  Their average two-part SAT score is 1390 – up 160 points from the 1230 average score of the entering class seven years ago.

These dynamic students demonstrate impressive all-around talent as well, with 64% coming from the top 10% of their high school class, up from 38% in 2006.  Nearly 700 freshmen are enrolled in our rigorous Honors Program, including 130 University Scholars who are receiving the opportunity to design a tailored program that addresses their unique academic goals and career aspirations.

Our exemplary student body will be educated by a world-class faculty that also continues to grow even stronger and deeper.  Between now and next fall, 55 new tenured and tenure-track faculty colleagues will join us, including multiple interdisciplinary hires in the fast-growing, cutting-edge disciplines of big data and analytics.  We welcome distinguished new department chairs in mechanical and industrial engineering, electrical and computer engineering, counseling and applied educational psychology.

We extend special congratulations to our current faculty colleagues who have been promoted this year, including 16 who received tenure and 5 who have been promoted to full professor.  Let me also welcome John Armendariz, our new Vice Provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, who will lead our efforts to support an even stronger culture of inclusion and diversity across the university.

The excitement of the season is just a portent of things to come – not least, the November 16-17 university-wide launch of Empower, our historic, $1 billion campaign that will shape the future of Northeastern by augmenting student support and financial aid, faculty advancement and expansion, and innovation in education and research.  Since 2005, Northeastern’s annual fundraising average has tripled, and Empower is off to a fantastic start, with $63.3 million in new gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2013 alone.  With the help of all members of our community – alumni, students, parents, friends, and university partners – this momentum will grow even stronger.

At a time of intense competition for the most talented students and faculty colleagues, Northeastern’s signature strengths – our unique experiential learning model, our global perspective, our focus on relevant, use-inspired research, and our support of innovation and entrepreneurship – continue to differentiate us from all others and attract the world’s best.  Yet these strengths would mean little without the people – you, our dedicated students, staff and faculty colleagues – who bring these attributes to life, powerfully and vividly, through all that you do every day.

As we embark on another momentous academic year, I thank you for continuing to fuel the fire that propels our unmatched ascent, remarkable accomplishments, and limitless future.  May we reach even greater heights together this year!


Joseph E. Aoun