Joseph E. Aoun, a leader in higher education policy and a renowned scholar in linguistics, is the seventh President of Northeastern University.
An internationally respected voice on the value of global and experiential education, President Aoun has enhanced Northeastern’s signature co-op program with opportunities around the world. Northeastern students have worked, studied, and conducted research in 136 countries, on all seven continents, with a network of more than 3,000 employer partners.
President Aoun has strategically aligned the University’s research enterprise with three global imperatives—health, security, and sustainability. Northeastern’s faculty focus on interdisciplinary research, entrepreneurship, and transforming academic research into commercial solutions for the world’s most pressing problems. During President Aoun’s tenure, the University has realized a 189 percent growth in external research funding, along with approximately 1,500 patent applications filed by faculty and students.
Northeastern’s excellence in education, research, and urban and global engagement attracts high-talent students from around the world—for its 2018 entering class, Northeastern received more than 62,000 applications. During Aoun’s presidency, Northeastern has established a network of campuses with five locations in the U.S. and Canada, added 157 new academic programs in emerging fields, amassed one of the largest libraries of online and hybrid professional masters programs of any university in the U.S., and hired 60 percent of its tenured and tenure-track faculty.
President Aoun came to Northeastern from the University of Southern California’s College of Letters, Arts & Sciences where he was the inaugural holder of the Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair. He received his Ph.D. in linguistics and philosophy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and advanced degrees from the University of Paris (France) VIII and Saint Joseph University (Beirut, Lebanon).
President Aoun is the author of numerous articles and books, including Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (MIT Press, 2017). In it, he confronts the need for colleges and universities to meet the challenge—and indeed the opportunity—presented by smart machines. The book lays out a blueprint for higher education with three primary components: a new curriculum for the A.I. age; the case for experiential learning, the ideal delivery system for this new curriculum; and a call for higher education to place lifelong learning at the heart of the educational enterprise.
President Aoun was named a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques (Knight of the Order of the Academic Palms) by the French government and is a recipient of the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Academic Leadership Award. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a past Chair of the American Council on Education (ACE).
Aoun has also been appointed as Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the President of the French Republic.