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Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun Elected Board Chair of American Council on Education

March 12, 2012

The University of Texas at El Paso President Diana Natalicio Elected Vice Chair

Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University (MA), has been elected chair of the Board of Directors at ACE, the major coordinating body for all the nation's higher education institutions.

Aoun assumed his role today during ACE's 94th Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, CA. He succeeds Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College (FL), and will serve a one-year term. Before becoming ACE Board chair, Aoun served as vice chair.

ACE's membership also elected Diana Natalicio, president of The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), vice chair; and James H. Mullen, Jr., president of Allegheny College (PA), secretary.

"American higher education is at a critical inflection point," said Aoun. "Because of the preeminence of our system, the efforts we're taking to innovate and expand higher education have captured the attention of the world. I'm honored that my colleagues have elected me as board chair during a period of great challenge and opportunity."

New ACE Chair Aoun, an internationally known scholar of linguistics, has served as president of Northeastern since August 2006. His vision for the university includes a commitment to strengthening its leadership position in experiential and cooperative education; dramatically expanding the university's global research; fostering a research environment where faculty address real-world problems; and building innovative partnerships so Northeastern can better serve its students, its home city, the nation and the world.

Aoun is a recognized thought leader in higher education, with particular knowledge of comparative higher education systems and new innovations. He writes and speaks frequently on a range of higher education issues.

Prior to being named the seventh president of Northeastern, Aoun was dean of 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 (MIT) in 1981; his diploma of advanced studies in general and theoretical linguistics from the University of Paris (France) VIII in 1977; and his master's in Oriental languages and literature from Saint Joseph University (Beirut, Lebanon) in 1975. He was presented with the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Knight of the Order of the Academic Palms) in 2006 by the French government. In 2011, he received the prestigious Robert A. Muh Award from MIT's School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Vice Chair Natalicio was named president of UTEP in 1988. During her career with the university, Natalicio has served as vice president for academic affairs, dean of liberal arts, chair of the modern languages department and professor of linguistics. Her sustained commitment to provide all residents of the Paso del Norte region access to outstanding higher education opportunities has made UTEP a national success story.

Natalicio serves on the board of trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation and on the board of directors of Trinity Industries, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. She was appointed by President George H.W. Bush as a member of the Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Initially appointed to the National Science Board (NSB) by President Bill Clinton in 1994, she served two six-year terms as a board member and three two-year terms as the NSB's vice chair.

A graduate of St. Louis University (MO), Natalicio earned a master's degree in Portuguese and a doctorate in linguistics from The University of Texas at Austin.

Also elected to the ACE Board of Directors during the business meeting were:

Term Ending March 2014

  • Elson S. Floyd, president, Washington State University

Term Ending March 2015

  • Robert L. Caret, president, University of Massachusetts System
  • Susan Herbst, president, University of Connecticut
  • Cornelius "Neil" Kerwin, president, American University (DC)
  • Renu Khator, chancellor, University of Houston System and president, University of Houston (TX)
  • Richard J. Pappas, president, Davenport University (MI)
  • Kenneth E. Peacock, chancellor, Appalachian State University (NC)
  • David Wilson, president, Morgan State University (MD)

Elected as higher education association representatives were:

  • Association of American Law Schools, Susan Westerberg Prager, executive director
  • Association of American Medical Colleges, Darrell G. Kirch, president and CEO

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Hennessy ▪ 202-939-9367 (office) ▪ 202-664-4205 (cell) ▪ ehennessy@acenet.edu 

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