Pride and Support
The spirit of philanthropy
Undeterred by a global pandemic, generous alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, friends, corporations, and foundations set a record of support for Northeastern.
in gifts and pledges in 2019–2020
We’re going to make a massive investment … focused at the most technically advanced edge of the technology sphere—which is AI and machine learning.
—David Roux, tech entrepreneur and Northeastern benefactor
Shaping our tech-driven future
In 2019, tech entrepreneur David Roux and his wife, Barbara, made the largest gift to Northeastern in its history: $100 million to launch the Roux Institute in Portland, Maine, as a hub for graduate education and research in the digital and life sciences. The Rouxs saw Northeastern as their ideal partner, thanks to its entrepreneurial leadership, success in opening graduate campuses in other cities, and proven record of partnering with employers, government, and academia to meet global workforce needs. The couple’s investment would be “focused at the most technically advanced edge of the technology sphere—AI and machine learning,” David Roux said at the launch event in January. “We’re going for the biggest prize, the brass ring, of technology,” to propel Maine and northern New England into the innovation economy.
individual donors representing 96 countries, including 7,553 first-time donors
corporations and foundations made $103.8M in gifts and pledges
Giving to change the world
Mapping an invisible foe
Alessandro Vespignani, director of the Network Science Institute and the Sternberg Family Distinguished University Professor, is a global leader in modeling and predicting the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Three gifts—$500,000 from Northeastern trustee and chair emeritus Sy Sternberg, ME’68, H’12 and his wife, Laurie; $500,000 from trustee James Pallotta, MBA’81; and $250,000 from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation—enabled Vespignani’s team to fund personnel and computation expenses, and to acquire datasets to forecast SARS-CoV-2 surges and inform state and federal public health policy.
Supporting first-gen students
Robert Binder, E’60, and his wife, Ruth, LA’60, hold Northeastern close to their hearts: They met while he was studying chemical engineering and she, sociology. The couple will support generations of learners with a $1 million scholarship for tuition, room, and board, and a $100,000 fund for books and software. These need-based awards will favor students who are the first in their families to attend college.
Disarming gun violence
Online payment platforms contribute to illegal U.S. gun sales by making it easier to buy guns anonymously. To combat the problem, the platform PayPal has partnered with Anthony Braga, the Elmer V.H. and Eileen M. Brooks Distinguished Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice. With a $1.8 million gift, PayPal is supporting Braga’s leadership of a four-university consortium to study online platforms’ role in gun violence.
Enabling global study
Inspired by Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun’s call for all students to have an international experience, two Northeastern alumni joined forces to fund the LeBlanc-Clarke International Experience Fund. Gifts from Rick LeBlanc, DMSB’90, and university trustee Jeff Clarke, DMBS’85—who are also partners in business—will enable more D’Amore-McKim School of Business students to take part in global research, co-ops, Dialogue of Civilizations courses, and other faculty-led projects abroad.
Putting students first
When Linda Block graduated from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business in 1972, she had achieved more than one “first.” Block was among an early group of women to major in business at Northeastern, and the first hired as a teaching assistant in accounting. Now a retired accounting and finance professor, Block is celebrating her “firsts” with a generous gift from her retirement fund. Her philanthropy will enable the school to respond quickly to students’ emerging needs, including opportunities to study abroad and pursue research.
Our united COVID-19 response
Networked for Life Volunteer Leadership Summit
Northeastern’s volunteer program leaders and philanthropists came together for their annual fall summit to celebrate career achievement and engagement with the university. Distinguished Service Awards went to Gary Dunton, DMSB’78, PNT’15, and his wife, Lea Anne Dunton, PNT’15; Gene Reppucci, E’60, MEd’65, H’95, and Corinne Reppucci, LA’64, MEd’71; and Janet Shoemaker Swanson, BB’74, MS’76. Northeastern Trustee Emerita Carole Shapazian, LA’66, MS’72, PNT’08; and James Waters, H’93, received the Pioneer Award, while Mohammad Al Wazzan, SSH’12, L’16, took the inaugural Emerging Leader Award.
Women Who Empower
Storytelling took center stage at Northeastern’s 2019 Women Who Empower annual summit and International Women’s Day celebrations. Featured speakers included Julietta Dexter, PNT’20, founder and CEO of the Communications Store; Jonathan Goodwin, PNT’22, partner and head of merchant banking at Alvarium; and Susan Shah, L’02, managing director of racial justice at Trinity Church Wall Street. In the face of COVID-19, the Women Who Empower initiative launched virtual programs like Masterclasses in Innovation, Leadership, and Entrepreneurship. Open to all, the classes explored topics ranging from managing side hustles and pitching investment ideas to securing venture capital.
Global Leadership Summit
Hosted by Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai in March, the four-day Global Leadership Summit featured entrepreneurs leading discussions about innovation, sustainability, and civic participation in a world adapting to artificial intelligence. Northeastern graduates, faculty, prospective students, and parents explored the technological and cultural changes that oblige companies and institutions to operate internationally.
Northeastern’s Young Global Leaders launched Global Perspectives, a virtual program that brings together thought leaders in business, social impact, entrepreneurship, and innovation for a compelling exchange of ideas. The program, hosted by Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun, debuted with two panel events: a May event about Africa and a July panel about Latin America. Executives and entrepreneurs discussed the future of the continents’ economies, infrastructures, governments, and responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
United across borders
alumni live and work in 177 countries
global Northeastern communities
participants from 64 countries engaged in events and virtual programs 2019-2020
Heroes against COVID-19
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Northeastern’s community rose to the challenge.
Bihe “Momo” Wang
From China with care
Bihe “Momo” Wang, S’16, who works for a medical supplies distribution company in her native Beijing, contacted the Alumni Relations office to offer 6,000 surgical masks for Northeastern’s front-line workers. Paul “Pu” Chen, MBA’08, also from Beijing, shipped 1,000 medical-grade and N95 masks to Northeastern from Mahaton Disinfection, the microbial pollution governance company he co-founded in Tianjin. “We consider ourselves an IDEA enterprise,” says Pu, referring to Northeastern’s student-led venture accelerator, “so I felt obligated to help.”
Wheels to shields
Coaster Cycles, founded in 2004 by Ben Morris, DMSB’05, manufactures three-wheeled cycles for some of the world’s largest companies. When orders dried up, the business laid off 80 percent of its workforce—but in mid-March, Morris stumbled across plans for making face shields and pivoted. “This is a way we can put our people back to work and give back to people on the front lines,” he says. The first order, for 500,000 pieces, allowed Coaster Cycles to not only rehire workers, but also expand the team.
Simon Otalora, SSH’14, a member of Northeastern’s Young Global Leaders, saw a critical need for more hospital beds in his native Panama as COVID-19 swept the globe. So he led an effort to convert unused gymnasium spaces into overflow facilities for local hospitals. Gyms were quickly outfitted with hospital beds and medical equipment, and staffed by healthcare workers.
Russ Layton, E’98, built a successful company, Sparx Hockey, in Acton, Massachusetts, by making affordable skate sharpeners for rinks, NHL teams, and individual ice hockey enthusiasts. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Layton adopted a new mission. After outfitting his garage with two industrial laser-cutting machines, he has kept his small staff busy manufacturing face shields to protect healthcare workers. “Within a couple of days of letting people go, we were trying to figure out how to bring them back,” Layton says.
When SARS-CoV-2 struck, cousins Morteza Lotfi, E’85, MS’88, Ali Lotfi, E’82, MS’88, and Mostafa Lotfi saw a way they could help meet caregivers’ urgent need for personal protective equipment. In just two days, the trio, co-founders of the Lacerta Group, a Mansfield, Massachusetts-based manufacturer of plastic packaging, began making plastic face shields. While producing up to 500,000 a day to sell, they have also donated thousands to local hospitals.