Address by Mr Firoz Rasul
President, Aga Khan University
Chief Guest, Dr Maleeha Lodhi
Chairman Saidullah Khan Dehlavi and Members of the Board of Trustees of Aga Khan University
Faculty and Staff, Proud Parents and most important,
Welcome to the 2009 AKU Convocation in Pakistan.
Beginning with the graduates and their families: congratulations! This is indeed a day of great celebration and pride for us all as you complete a significant milestone in your lives.
Today, 328 of you are graduating. In the morning Convocation ceremony, from the Institute for Educational Development, 40 students were awarded Master of Education degrees and 2 were awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in Education. From the Medical College this morning, we had 3 students who received PhDs in the Health Sciences, 4 students who received a Master of Science in Clinical Research, 13 students who received a Master of Science in Epidemiology & Biostatistics, 7 who received a Master of Science in Health Policy & Management and 87 new doctors with an MBBS who took an Oath to uphold the ethics of patient care. This afternoon, from the School of Nursing, we have 3 students who will receive their Master of Science in Nursing, 47 who will receive their Post-RN Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 37 who will receive their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) and 85 who will receive their Diploma in General Nursing.
Congratulations to you all. Let me also take a moment to express all our gratitude to your families for their endless support. And sincere appreciation is also extended to the faculty for their knowledge, teaching, mentoring and skills.
Soon you will be conferred with an AKU degree that symbolises mastery of your profession at a global standard of quality so this is an opportune moment to reflect on the value of that degree and the institution that stands behind it.
AKU has earned its reputation as a beacon of quality by using best practices, inculcating an ethical framework and espousing clear values as well as through its commitment to community development. Over its more than 25-year history, it has worked to bridge the needs of the developing world with the advancements of the developed world, adapting them to fit our needs and societies.
Looking back over the course of our history, we see that the University has expanded its sites and extended its reach. Starting from this health sciences campus and the Institute for Educational Development site in Karachi, we now have multiple campuses in diverse geographies. We are offering programmes in East Africa and are engaged in educational and technical support programmes in countries such as Syria, Egypt and Afghanistan. All our campuses are focused on maintaining the high standards that epitomise the AKU name.
Under the vision and guidance of the Founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, along with the passionate engagement of our dedicated Trustees and the support of our donors, we have been able to bridge the knowledge gap that formed a vast divide between the best of the West and the needs of the East.
Today, due to the commitment of our faculty and the support of our partner universities, we are able to bring this knowledge to benefit those most in need. So let me take a moment to acknowledge the contributions of our partner universities who have willingly shared their knowledge and expertise allowing us to learn from their successes as well as their challenges. Institutions that have helped AKU include Harvard University, the Karolinska Institutet, Oxford, McMaster University and the University of Alberta. Many of you will also have heard about the Aga Khan Development Network Memoranda of Agreement signed this year with both the University of Texas at Austin and the University of California at San Francisco. These universities and our other supporters have faith in our standards and our values and have helped AKU educate a generation of students who have in turn positively impacted their own communities.
Having just returned from a Board of Trustees meeting, I was reminded again about the important role that AKU has played in the progress of the regions we serve. A great strength of AKU is our ability to engage with communities and our greatest opportunity is assisting and empowering these populations to improve their quality of life. When I review the community-based efforts of our Medical School, or the research efforts of the teachers from the Institute for Educational Development or the grassroots connectivity of our School of Nursing graduates, I am humbled by the opportunities the communities provide us. It is these opportunities that allow AKU to develop programmes and services to meet great needs, and to build in our graduates that sense of community commitment and social responsibility, a focus the Chancellor has entrusted us with.
AKU continues to bring in best practices to improve our programmes and education. The establishment of the Skills Learning Centre in the Medical College that will house state-of-the-art virtual reality and simulation activities as well as a tele-learning facility for our students, residents and faculty will provide opportunities for enhanced learning and practice. And the introduction of the midwifery programmes, both at the BScN level and through integration with four community-based hospitals that AKU has taken under its wings, provides enhanced services for the families we strive to serve – impacting them in ways that literally change their lives.
As you graduate today, remember you graduate from a university that is passionately committed to positively impacting society by upholding strong ethics and principles. You have already been part of this impact and now as alumni, it is indeed your responsibility to carry this forward. We look to you, our alumni, to be our ambassadors – both in how you perform, serve and contribute; but also in how you remain connected to AKU.
I wish you great success in your future endeavours. Some of you will work in Pakistan, some will pursue further studies, and some of you will move overseas. Regardless of where you are, I encourage you to uphold the ethics of AKU – to serve with compassion and commitment, to be generous with your knowledge, time and money so that others may benefit from all that you have gained.
And stay connected to AKU – we encourage you to participate in the continued growth and evolution of AKU. You will always remain part of AKU and we hope that AKU will always remain a part of you.
Let me end by quoting His Highness the Aga Khan, our Founder and Chancellor, from his remarks made at the Inauguration Ceremony of the Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa in December, 2003:
"... it is my hope that it will be members of this new generation who, driven by their own wide knowledge and inspiration, will change their societies. These young men and women, I am sure, will become leaders in the governments and the institutions of civil society in their own countries, in international organizations and in all those institutions, academic, economic and artistic that create positive change in our world."
I look forward to hearing how well you have lived up to the hope the Chancellor has placed in you. Thank you.