Aoun, a native of Lebanon, earned his doctorate from the department of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. He said he’s looking forward to working with faculty, administration, students and alumni."As president, my first priority will be working with all of these constituencies to build on the momentum the university has created to propel it to even greater levels of excellence," Aoun said in a statement.

Aoun joined the USC faculty in 1982. He’s been dean for the past six years. He is credited with strengthening graduate programs, and launching partnerships with cultural organizations such as the Getty Research Institute.Neil Finnegan, chairman of Northeastern’s board of trustees, said Aoun will work with faculty and students on an "aggressive agenda that seeks to strengthen and expand Northeastern’s mission of practice-oriented education.