You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.


Northeastern president makes wise use of YouTube

Northeastern president Joseph Aoun’s outreach may be quirky, but it’s refreshing.

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Northeastern president Joseph Aoun’s outreach may be quirky, but it’s refreshing.

Americans love reality television, but only if the reality is worth tuning into. So it’s safe to say that most university presidents won’t be getting their own Bravo shows anytime soon. Campus administration isn’t quite as adventurous as the life of Honey Boo Boo. Still, that hasn’t stopped Joseph Aoun, the president of Northeastern University, from starring in his own series of YouTube “webisodes,” or short, online-only videos.

The four episodes he’s taped so far are funny shorts advertising a series of guest lectures at his school. In one inspired by silent black-and-white films, he plays a custodian. In another, he clones a mini-version of himself. In a third, he dances the rumba around his office — with a Roomba. Aoun’s YouTube stardom has enhanced his social media presence around campus, where he’s already known for his charmingly goofy Twitter posts.

Continue reading below

Aoun’s outreach may be quirky, but it’s refreshing at a time when many university presidents are seen by students as corporate-like fundraisers in chief. It’s a long way from the outsized role they played during much of the last century — not only on campus, but across American society.

Aoun’s online presence points to a new way university presidents can use the Internet to engage with their students and the public, on matters both serious and silly. It may seem like a distraction from their day jobs. But, in fact, it should be a part of it.

Loading comments...
Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of