Northeastern president pledges $500,000 to expand global opportunities for students

Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry during the university’s 2016 commencement.
Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry during the university’s 2016 commencement.

Northeastern University president Joseph E. Aoun received an award for excellence in academic leadership that includes a $500,000 grant for his university — and then matched it with $500,000 of his own personal funds, the university planned to announce Tuesday.

The Academic Leadership Award is granted every two years by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to exemplary college and university presidents across the country, the corporation said in a statement.

Aoun is the first president of a university in New England to receive the award, the Northeastern said.


He is also the only recipient from the 2017 class, which includes six other presidents from New Jersey to California, to have said that he will match the grant, the corporation said.

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“Through this generous action, president Aoun has demonstrated once again the rare and admirable qualities that the Academic Leadership Award seeks to honor,” Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation, said in the statement.

Johns Hopkins University president Ronald J. Daniels, who received the award in 2015, also matched it to establish a financial aid endowment for first-generation undergraduates at the university.

Aoun will use the grant to expand “experiential learning programs,” including the school’s existing co-op and study abroad programs, the university said.

The money from the grant and Aoun’s personal donation will not only improve these programs, but also allow the university to provide financial aid to students who wish to participate but might not be able to afford to do so, the university said.


Over 90 percent of Northeastern students participate in the co-op program, which allows them to work career-related jobs for six months instead of taking classes, the university said. Many students graduate with two or three co-op jobs under their belts.

“I am deeply humbled to receive this honor from an organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge around the world,” Aoun said in the statement. “I share this award with the entire Northeastern community, whose collective work and achievements over the past decade have shaped the university’s success.”

The award is given to educators who, in addition to demonstrating commitment to undergraduate education, also form bonds between their institutions and local communities, the corporation said.

Since Aoun began his tenure in 2006, he has added 157 areas of study for undergraduate and graduate students and increased external research funding by 179 percent, the university said.

Aoun has also helped place students in experiential learning opportunities in 136 countries and increased international student enrollment by 502 percent.

Alyssa Meyers can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ameyers_.