Our Chief Guest, Ms. Roshaneh Zafar, Managing Director of the Kashf Foundation
Fellow members of the Board of Trustees
President Firoz Rasul
Provost Carl Amrhein
Deans, faculty, and staff of the University
Parents, partners, supporters, and distinguished guests
It is my honor and pleasure to share with you the following message from our Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Chancellor’s message is as follows:
“I send this message on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the founding of the Aga Khan University. I would have liked to share this special day with you all, but my schedule prevented me from travelling to Karachi to be with you.
“When we laid the foundations for this University more than three decades ago, we were, of course, building for the future. But we were also keenly conscious of our roots in the past. A thousand years prior to AKU’s establishment, my ancestors founded Al Azhar University in the Fatimid capital of Cairo. Such institutions of higher learning, and the spirit of intellectual openness they expressed, did much to contribute to the centuries-long eminence of Islamic civilisations.
“For 35 years, AKU has built upon this rich history of scholarship, research, and innovation. At the same time, the University has forged a distinctive tradition of its own. Its hallmarks include striving to achieve international standards of excellence; problem-oriented research that improves quality of life for the public at large; embracing pluralism; and dedication to ensuring our academic programmes and healthcare services are accessible to the disadvantaged.
“Our students and alumni embody this tradition. Aga Khan University graduates are making a difference across the length and breadth of Pakistan, in Afghanistan, East Africa, and dozens of other countries. They are pursuing groundbreaking research on deadly diseases. Educating the next generation of leaders, here at their alma mater and at renowned universities around the world. Founding schools and clinics. Starting technology firms that deliver solutions that help society. Heading relief efforts in areas racked by conflict. And working to ensure that every child receives the vaccinations they need.
“Graduands, you are the inheritors of this tradition. I am confident you will demonstrate, like those who came before you, that an AKU education is preparation for a consequential and rewarding life in a diverse world.
“Yet catalyzing and sustaining positive change is far from easy. Addressing complex social problems requires action in multiple arenas, collaboration by experts in different fields, and the ability to work with those whose experience is very different than one’s own.
“Our recognition of the ubiquity of complexity underlies our plan for AKU’s transformation into a liberal-arts university.
“The goal of a liberal-arts education is preparation for ethical leadership, thoughtful citizenship, service to society, and success in the global knowledge economy. It prepares students not for a single profession, but to go on learning throughout their lives in order to address the complex challenges they will confront regardless of their calling.
“Graduands, universities exist to add to knowledge, because knowledge is not fixed but continuously evolving. It follows that universities themselves must change and grow – as the Aga Khan University has, and as it is doing now with its evolution into a full-scale liberal-arts university.
“And so too must you, in your own lives, recognize that change requires agility, flexibility, and the capacity to absorb new facts and adjust theory to reality. Nothing will serve you so well in the future as a hunger for learning – as learning how to go on learning. To do so would surely be among the most profound tributes you could pay to the tradition we have established over 35 years, and the proud history that has inspired us.
Congratulations to you all.”