President choice solid, announcement more shaky

The press conferences and meet-and-greets are over, and the dust has settled over Dr. Joseph Aoun’s selection as Northeastern’s seventh president. The Boston Globe has weighed in with a glowing editorial, the administration has hailed Aoun as “delightful” and “a home run,” and we here at The News can’t find much of anything wrong with him either.

The only thing that leaves us a little uncomfortable is the feeling that, as usual, Northeastern worried more about its external image than its internal community when announcing their choice.

In planning the announcement of Aoun’s selection, the university hired an external public relations firm to control the message and make sure it got maximum media play. Never mind the fact that Northeastern has its own public relations department. We had to bring in the big guns for this.

The result was that the announcement was leaked to the Globe, and even top administrators learned of the choice over their morning coffee, instead of internally.

We do understand the need for confidentiality in the process, and that candidates, especially high-profile ones, insist on a private selection process. But when it came time to unveil the choice, Northeastern clearly wanted to make a splash with a front-page story, which they got by making it an exclusive, hush-hush deal.

We’re not happy about it, but it’s over now and after much ado, the choice is finally out in the open. Aoun has all the right credentials and is saying all the right things. He even seems like a really nice guy.

But with all the secrecy that shrouded the selection process, we’ll never know what candidates were eliminated along the way. If you believe Wonkette, Al Gore was on the “short list.” We just have to take it on faith that Aoun is the man for the job. And from what we’ve seen so far, we don’t doubt it.

We’re excited for a new year and seeing what a new president can bring to the table. We’re also open to new ideas and approaches. But we won’t soon forget that Aoun was appointed behind closed doors, and that his appointment was splashed so prominently and deliberately in the public arena.

The Northeastern community may have to take it on faith that Aoun is the best choice, but we at The News don’t take much of anything on faith. Dr. Aoun, we wish you the warmest possible welcome to Northeastern, and we hope you are everything they say you are and more. But we’ve got our eye on you.

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