Today, flags across Northeastern are flying at half-staff in honor of the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela – one of the greatest people the world has ever known.

The unbreakable spirit Mandela displayed in the face of tortuous struggles inspired the world – and Northeastern.  On Commencement Day in 1988, while Mandela was still unjustly being held captive in South Africa as a political prisoner of the apartheid regime, the Northeastern community awarded him an honorary doctorate.

For our graduates and our university that day, Mandela stood as a shining example of the indefatigable power of our shared humanity.  He was a transformational leader and a relentless champion of peace, justice and equality – and will remain so forever.

As we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of this extraordinary human being, I invite all of us to reflect on the profound impact that one person can have on a country, a people, and the arc of history.

Thank you, Madiba.


Joseph E. Aoun