Provost to leave office after seven years

By Alexandra Malloy, deputy news editor

Over the summer, Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun announced to the university’s faculty that Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Stephen W. Director, would be retiring after seven years of service.

“I will be forever grateful for the way Steve approached his job as provost; he always acted with the greater interests of the university in mind,” Aoun said in an email to university faculty. “This is the mark of a true university citizen and a true leader.”

The responsibilities held by Director are centered around ensuring that research, academics and faculty of the university are of the highest quality attainable.

Director received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Before joining Northeastern University in 2008, Director served as the Provost at Drexel University in Philadelphia and as Dean of the Robert J. Vlasic College of Engineering at the University of Michigan.

A highlight of Director’s tenure at Northeastern was the consolidation and restructuring of the arts and science programs into three smaller colleges: the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, College of Arts, Media and Design and College of Science. He has also helped to hire over 400 tenured or tenure-track faculty members.

“Steve knows that faculty are the backbone of the university, and our remarkable success in faculty recruiting — when many other schools were retrenching — will benefit Northeastern well into the future,” Aoun said.

Another legacy that Director will leave behind is the construction of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex (ISEC) at the Columbus parking lot.

“Steve spent many hours working closely with our architects, planners and other stakeholders to ensure that the ISEC would meet the demands of faculty and students for generations to come,” Aoun said.

At the beginning of his time at Northeastern, Director received a $2 million mortgage from the university to purchase a house in the city. Director purchased a condo adjacent to Boston Commons, assessed at $1,755,668 as reported by the Boston Assessment Database. He has since paid back the loan at $40,000 a year. Currently, it is unclear as to what will be done with the property once Director leaves.

The university declined to comment on this matter.

However, the issue that has taken up the majority of Director’s last few months as Provost has been the battle over tenure for adjunct professors.

Professor Denise Horn, an assistant professor of International Affairs, has been outspoken on the tenure topic. Horn has been denied tenure repeatedly, in part due to Director’s focus on publication in prestigious academic journals rather than teaching.

Horn’s tenure is once again up for review, and she declined to comment on her past interactions with Director due to the delicacy of her upcoming review.

With the start of the semester, it was announced that Director would remain Provost until a successor is found. Director will continue to remain an influence on campus after his retirement, planning to serve as a special advisor to Aoun.

“I look forward to my future work with him as we continue to write the Northeastern story,” Aoun said.

The search for Director’s replacement is underway and consists of a series of search committee meetings that are open to faculty, students and the general public. The next meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 23 from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Curry Student Center Ballroom.