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Joseph E. Aoun is the seventh president of Northeastern Universitymarker in Boston, Massachusettsmarker, where he took office on August 15, 2006. Prior to taking on the presidency at Northeastern, Aoun was Dean of the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at the University of Southern Californiamarker. He joined USC in 1982 in the Department of Linguistics, and during his time at USC served as head of the academic Senate.

Aoun was born in Beirut, Lebanonmarker, and is currently a member of Generative Linguistics in the Old World and the Linguistic Society of America.

Dr. Aoun was Inaugurated as the Seventh President of Northeastern on Monday, March 26, 2007.

Since his presidency began in August 2006, Aoun has charted an ambitious and distinctive course to advance Northeastern. At the heart of his vision is a commitment to strengthen the University’s leadership position in experiential and cooperative education; create global programs with an urban perspective; foster a research environment where faculty uncover solutions to real-world problems; and build innovative partnerships so that Northeastern can better serve its students, its city, the nation, and the world.

President Aoun is spearheading an innovative model of undergraduate education. Under his leadership, Northeastern expanded its signature cooperative and experiential education program to 88 cities in 46 countries and launched NU Core, the first University-wide general education program, which includes an experiential learning requirement for all students. In July 2008, Princeton Review ranked Northeastern number one in the best career / job placement services category. Further evidence of Northeastern’s advancement under President Aoun’s leadership can be seen in the number of students who now seek admission. In just two years, undergraduate applications rose 32 percent, reaching an all-time high for fall 2008.

In fostering a collaborative research climate, President Aoun has created an environment where faculty pioneer emerging fields and tackle problems with societal relevance. In 2008 Northeastern became home to a National Security Agency Center for Excellence in Information Assurance Research and Education, and was one of only 11 universities nationwide chosen to lead a Homeland Security Center for Excellence. President Aoun has also made strengthening Northeastern’s faculty ranks a central priority, launching an interdisciplinary hiring initiative and a research support program for mid-career faculty.

His passion for partnership-building and urban engagement is enriching both the University and its partners. He has formed collaborative joint-degree programs with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts, and was instrumental in forming a joint research platform between Greece and the University. He also launched the Stony Brook Initiative, a comprehensive University-neighborhood partnership for youth and community development.

President Aoun serves on the boards of directors of the American Council on Education, Artists for Humanity, the Boston Private Industry Council, Boston World Partnerships, Jobs for Mass, and the New England Council. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable and Massachusetts Math & Science Initiative, and serves on the Leadership Council for the Massachusetts Life Sciences Collaborative and as cochair of the City to City Boston initiative.



  • Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa: Hebrew Union College, 2007
  • Chevalier de L’ordre des Palmes Academiques (Knight of the Order of the Academic Palms): French Government, 2006
  • Doctor of Humane Letters: Anatolia College, 2009


  • USC Associates Award For Creativity In Research And Scholarship, 1997
  • USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award, Award for The Syntax of Scope (with A. Li), 1993
  • USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award, Award for A Grammar of Anaphora, 1988

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