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Northeastern president named to Homeland Security council

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University.

Aram Boghosian/The Northeastern News

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University.

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University, has been appointed to a new academic advisory council that will report to the Department of Homeland Security on how universities can contribute to antiterrorism efforts in the United States.

The 19-member council - made up of university presidents, chancellors, and other academic leaders - will report to senior members of the Department of Homeland Security, according to the department.

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“We need more research and training related to security,’’ Aoun said yesterday. “Northeastern has been a leader in this domain and we are happy to help and serve our country.’’

In the past several months, Aoun has worked to raise Northeastern’s profile on matters of national security.

In January, Aoun and the presidents of the University of Massachusetts, the University of Rhode Island, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute were among a dozen university chiefs who signed a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano decrying possible homeland security budget cuts.

And in September, Northeastern opened the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at its Burlington campus. The institute will give the university the capacity to research cyber security, explosives detection, response to terror attacks, and other issues.

Aoun also met with Napolitano to discuss homeland security that month.

Napolitano, who announced the appointments Thursday, has asked the council to provide recommendations and advice on issues related to faculty exchanges, international students, campus and community security, student and recent graduate recruitment, and research, according to the statement.

“The formation of this council represents an important milestone towards engaging the academic community in our homeland security efforts,’’ Napolitano said in the statement. “Their collective expertise will be a critical asset to the department, and I look forward to working with them.’’

Aoun lauded Napolitano’s effort to bridge the gap between government and academia.

“I think she is very receptive,’’ he said. “She realizes that in order to keep the nation safe, she needs to be in a listening mode. She needs to know what is happening in universities and help focus them on security research.’’

Leaders from two other New England schools were also appointed: David M. Dooley, president of the University of Rhode Island, and Rear Admiral Sandra Stosz, superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Wallace Loh, president of the University of Maryland, will be the council’s chairman.

The council will hold its first meeting, which will be open to the public, in Washington on March 20. Aoun said he expects that meeting to establish the council’s mission, strategy, and goals.

“I believe that universities have an opportunity and an obligation to further safety and security for the country,’’ Aoun said as he prepared to watch the Northeastern baseball team play the Red Sox yesterday in an exhibition game in Fort Myers, Fla. “This is a major focus for Northeastern and we will continue to do research to further that.’’

Christopher J. Girard can be reached at chrisjgirard@gmail.com.

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