Empower to take Northeastern to ‘amazing heights’

North­eastern launched its $1 bil­lion com­pre­hen­sive cam­paign on Thursday night at a kickoff event that fea­tured inspiring calls to sup­port the university’s surging momentum and inter­ac­tive exhibits through which fac­ulty and stu­dents show­cased Northeastern’s ground­breaking research, rising global pro­file, and lead­er­ship in expe­ri­en­tial education.

Empower: The Cam­paign for North­eastern Uni­ver­sity  aims to raise $500 mil­lion in phil­an­thropic sup­port and $500 mil­lion through industry and gov­ern­ment part­ner­ships by 2017, which together will shape the future of teaching, learning, and dis­covery at the uni­ver­sity by sup­porting stu­dents, fac­ulty, and inno­va­tion in edu­ca­tion and research. The cam­paign will sup­port pro­grams and ini­tia­tives university-​​wide, focusing on three strategic goals: stu­dent sup­port and finan­cial aid, fac­ulty advance­ment and expan­sion, and inno­va­tion in education and research.

Speaking to nearly 400 people gath­ered in the Marino Center, Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun said the Empower cam­paign is about “excel­lence, quality, and impact.” Phil­an­thropic sup­port, he said, will increase schol­ar­ships for stu­dents to pursue inno­va­tion, entre­pre­neur­ship, and pro­fes­sional lead­er­ship; pro­vide resources for fac­ulty to hurdle bar­riers and solve global chal­lenges through use-​​inspired, inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research; and deepen alumni con­nec­tions with the university.

“I am asking you to empower our com­mu­nity and give life to a bold new vision of what North­eastern can be,” he said. “I am asking you to strengthen your university—and your North­eastern community—for decades to come.” By doing so, Aoun said North­eastern will con­tinue attracting dis­tin­guished stu­dents and fac­ulty and remain on the leading edge of research, par­tic­u­larly in areas of health, secu­rity, and sustainability.

A series of major gifts have already set the stage for the Empower campaign’s suc­cess, including a $60 mil­lion gift from alumni Richard D’Amore and Alan McKim to the busi­ness school, now known as the D’Amore-McKim School of Busi­ness. D’Amore and McKim will serve as the Empower cam­paign co-​​chairs.

On Thursday night, the pair cited both the enor­mous pro­fes­sional and per­sonal impact North­eastern has made in their lives and the university’s incred­ible momentum as fac­tors to remain actively engaged on campus and ulti­mately make their com­bined gift last fall. D’Amore, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1976, said he and other alumni have been con­sis­tently impressed by how much Northeastern’s world-​​class rep­u­ta­tion, quality of stu­dents, global pro­file, and depth of research have soared since he was a student.

“We’re tremen­dously proud of our uni­ver­sity,” D’Amore said.

“We rec­og­nize Northeastern’s poten­tial, just as North­eastern rec­og­nized our poten­tial as stu­dents,” added McKim. “This is a mon­u­mental day for the university.”

Henry J. Nasella, chairman of the North­eastern Board of Trustees and a 1977 grad­uate, also addressed atten­dees. He touted Northeastern’s sig­na­ture co-​​op pro­gram, which he said gave him the real-​​world expe­ri­ence to under­stand how busi­ness worked, “from the shop floor up.”

“There hasn’t ever been a job that I didn’t feel con­fi­dent that I could do or learn to do in my career,” he said.

“We’re here to secure North­eastern for the future,” he added.

Later in the evening, a series of inter­ac­tive exhibits allowed vis­i­tors to immerse them­selves in the scope of Northeastern’s inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, global reach, inno­v­a­tive mindset, and entre­pre­neurial spirit. In var­ious exhibits, stu­dents and fac­ulty show­cased cutting-​​edge projects in game design, cyber­se­cu­rity, and explo­sives detec­tion. Another sta­tion show­cased Northeastern’s Marine Sci­ence Center in Nahant, Mass, where stu­dents and fac­ulty are col­lab­o­rating on research ranging from under­water robotics to cli­mate change studies.

There were also two alumni ven­tures on dis­play: One was Njabini Inc., which helps poor fam­i­lies in rural Kenya grow income-​​generating projects that sup­port their fam­i­lies and com­mu­ni­ties, including a new project that uses a coop­er­a­tive model to bring potato pro­ducers together to col­lec­tively increase their pro­duc­tion and profits. The other was Fresh Truck, a social ven­ture aimed at trans­porting healthy food into urban areas without wide access to gro­cery stores.