Joseph E. Aoun

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Joseph Elephante Aoun
Joseph Aoun.PNG
7th President of
Northeastern University
In office
2006 – present
Preceded byRichard M. Freeland
Personal details
BornMarch 26, 1953
Beirut, Lebanon
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Paris VIII
Université Saint-Joseph
WebsiteOffice of the President, Northeastern University

Joseph E. Aoun (Arabic: جوزيف عون) (born March 26, 1953 in Beirut, Lebanon)[1] is the seventh president of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, 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 California. He joined USC in 1982 in the Department of Linguistics, and during his time at USC served as head of the academic Senate. According to Northeastern's 2016 IRS Form 990, Aoun's current annual salary is $1,311,729, with an additional $204,775 per year in other compensation.

As a theoretical syntactician, he is known for his work on Logical Form and wh-movement.

He is married to Zeina and has two sons, Adrian and Joseph Karim.[2]



Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence was published and released in 2017 by MIT Press. The book appeared over a year after Aoun wrote a commentary for the Chronicle of Higher Education[3] that shares the first part of the book's title.

In Robot-Proof, Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun proposes a way to educate the next generation of college students to invent, to create, and to discover—to fill needs in society that even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence agent cannot.[4]

A "robot-proof" education, Aoun argues, is not concerned solely with topping up students' minds with high-octane facts. Rather, it calibrates them with a creative mindset and the mental elasticity to invent, discover, or create something valuable to society—a scientific proof, a hip-hop recording, a web comic, a cure for cancer. Aoun lays out the framework for a new discipline, humanics, which builds on our innate strengths and prepares students to compete in a labor market in which smart machines work alongside human professionals.

The only certainty about the future is change. Higher education based on the new literacies of humanics can equip students for living and working through change.[5]

The book was released on Aug. 25, 2017.[6]

On September 12, 2017, Aoun appeared on C-SPAN[7] to talk about Robot-Proof in which he argues for the need for better and continuous education to keep up with changing technology.

In an Op-Ed for Time on Sept. 26, 2017, Aoun said, "Beyond simply conferring degrees, the foundational purpose of colleges and universities must be to educate — and that means equipping people of all ages, at all stages of their careers, to build successful and fulfilling lives. This means we need to take several important steps to make our students robot-proof."[8]



  • MIT Robert A. Muh Alumni Award in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, 2011
  • 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 April 2011.
  2. ^ Pamela J. Johnson (22 June 2006). "Trojans Bid Farewell to Joseph Aoun". USC. Retrieved 9 January 2015.
  3. ^ Aoun, Joseph. "Robot-Proof: How Colleges Can Keep People Relevant in the Workplace". Chronicle. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  4. ^ Aoun, Joseph. "Robot-Proof". Robot-Proof. MIT Press. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  5. ^ Aoun, Joseph (September 1, 2017). Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. MIT Press. Retrieved 4 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence". Barnes and Noble.
  7. ^ "Robot Proof, Sept 12 2017". C-SPAN. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
  8. ^ "How College Students Should Prepare for Our Automated Future". Time. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  9. ^

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Richard M. Freeland
7th President of Northeastern University
Succeeded by