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State Of Finances Uncertain At Northeastern U.

This story was written by Michael Napolitano, The Northeastern News

While President Joseph Aoun has recently called for Northeastern Universityto begin examining ways to manage the cost of education in the current national financial crisis, no specific proposals have yet been made to control the school finances, said interim university spokesperson Jim Chiavelli.

In an address to the university given in the Curry Student Center Ballroom Wednesday, President Aoun elaborated on the announcement that was posted on the myNEU portal Monday about the school's position in the economic state of the country.

He said in the address that while he was asking the university's senior leadership to begin the process of finding ways to control costs, the school is not yet at a point that calls for drastic measures.

"You heard about other institutions, you heard about [how] some of them are starting layoffs, a [spending] freeze, et cetera. We are not there," he said. "As of today, we are not planning any of these drastic measures.

In the myNEU bulletin, Aoun said he had been closely monitoring the financial situation and that planning from the senior administration would help Northeastern weather the crisis.

"Our goal is simple - to ensure that Northeastern is stronger after this challenge has passed," the letter read

In a subsequent statement from Northeastern released by Chiavelli yesterday, the statement said some departmental reviews of ways to contain costs have begun, and others will begin in the next few weeks. It also said that the Northeastern community will be invited to share their ideas as well.

Aoun said the university has avoided a bad financial position with the help of Senior Vice President of Administration and Finance Jack McCarthy and Treasurer and Finance Director Samuel Solomon.

"They helped us dodge several bullets," he said.

In an additional statement from Northeastern released to The News by Chiavelli, the school said McCarthy and Solomon took significant steps in two important areas: refinancing the university's debt and ensuring a sufficient cash flow for the university to meet its short and long-term obligations.

Aoun cited three major areas in which Northeastern should strive for innovation at the town hall meeting: curriculum, research and management.

"We, more than ever, have to look at our offerings and at justifying every move we do and justifying also our tuition," he said.

Aoun stressed the fact that he wanted Northeastern's research programs to focus on all aspects of their fields of study.

"I don't want to hear that you are focusing on applied research," he said. "I don't want to hear that you are focusing on fundamental research. You are focusing on everything on the spectrum."

Aoun made a fourth point on the importance of fundraising for Northeastern, telling the audience that the recent economic downturn is no excuse for this area to dwindle. He said an important factor in fundraising was supporting the community and alumni, who rely on the university for key services. Even if some are unable to provide financial support now, they may become donors in the future, he said.

"In a time of entrenchment, we need to continue fundraising," he said. "In the same way that we cannot turn our back to the community, we cannot turn our back to the parents and the alumni."

Diane MacGillivray, senior vice president for university advancement, said this was an area in which the school has not been slacking.

"Northeastern University's fund-raising - gifts and pledges - totaled $43 million for fiscal 2008, up from $22 million in fiscal 2006," she said.

In hs myNEU announcement, Aoun stressed that students and the university would not survive the financial crisis on their own.

"The strength of our university is evidenced by our capacity to work as a community," the announcement read.

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