Address by Mr Firoz Rasul
President, Aga Khan University
Chief Guest Dr Kenya-Mugisha Nathan
Chairman Ambassador Saidullah Khan Dehlavi
Members of the Board of Trustees
Provost Dr. William Doe
Faculty and Staff of the University
Graduands and students
Welcome to the 2009 Graduation Ceremony for Aga Khan University. To the graduates and their families; congratulations! It is a day of great celebration as you pass an important milestone.
Today you will be conferred with a degree that recognizes your mastery of a professional field at an international standard. You have earned that degree through hard work and merit, just as you were admitted to this university based on merit.
We have among our graduates today, 55 newly qualified nurses and 58 who will be receiving their diploma in General Nursing. Congratulations to each one of you and I hope you will leave this University as an ambassador and work to contribute to the development of this country.
[PAUSE FOR APPLAUSE]
As we celebrate our 25th anniversary at today's ceremony, I want to speak about the generosity that has enabled AKU to accomplish its reputation for quality.
This University has achieved its high standards and quality education because of the vision and guidance of the Founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, as well as the passionate persistence of the Trustees. But is has also managed to maintain these standards because of the commitment of the faculty and the concern for AKU's success by its various donors and supporters. In November, I had the opportunity to join the Chancellor in Canada where he met with a group of entrepreneurs in the oil and gas and mining business in a city that has little connection to East Africa. The Chancellor took time to meet with this group because of the commitment they have made to the University. Over the past five years, this group of 100 Canadians gave very generously of their money and ideas to support teacher education because many of them had visited East Africa and witnessed the impact that AKU is making at the school, teacher and student level. But AKU has benefitted also from the generosity of universities around the world who have given of their knowledge and experience to enable us to develop our capabilities. While in Canada, we also signed a second agreement to extend our partnership with McMaster University. For our graduating nurses today, you may recognize that name of the partner that helped us create the School of Nursing. The list of institutions that have helped AKU also includes Karolinska Institute in Sweden, Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom and the University of Toronto, Alberta and Calgary in Canada to name a few.
These individuals and organizations have committed their precious resources to this University because they found resonance in our vision. They saw a needs-blind admission policy that rewards intellectual ability; strong academic programmes that also serve the local community; graduates that understand the value of ethics, hard work, service and leadership. Our partners and supporters have seen an opportunity to assist a generation to gain a quality education that will enable them to make a difference to their communities. Each of these supporters has found a compelling reason to take an ownership stake in this University.
The Chancellor established this University 25 years ago to support the creation and acquisition of knowledge in the developing world. Following in the footsteps of his ancestors in Egypt over 1000 years ago and their renowned history of learning and education, he envisioned an institution "on the frontiers of scientific and humanistic knowledge, radiating intelligence and confidence, research and graduates, into flourishing economies and progressive legal and political systems".
In East Africa, the Chancellor's commitment to education traces its origins back to the basic literacy and numeracy classes that were established in 1895 in Bagamoyo by his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah. As the Chancellor celebrated his Golden Jubilee last year we should be grateful for his generosity and foresight in establishing this institution and building upon a tradition of over 100 years of quality education in East Africa.
The commitment of Aga Khan University to the development of East Africa continues. Over the next ten years, AKU will be investing to meet the region's needs for tertiary education. We are in the process of establishing the Faculty of Health Sciences in Nairobi and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Arusha, following the Institute for Educational Development in Dar es Salaam. We will also continue to develop innovative, relevant programmes such as the Diploma in Accident, Emergency and Disaster Management.
As Alumni of this great institution, now it is your responsibility to carry the mantle forward. Just as those that have gone before you; graduates, donors and supporters, what will be your ownership stake in this University?
After today, some of you will work in Uganda others will travel abroad for further studies. Yet others will venture out on untold discoveries. Regardless of where your adventures take you, remember to be generous with your time and knowledge as well as your money so that others may benefit from your contribution, just as you once benefitted from someone else. Take a role in the exciting growth development of this University - give back to your University. Help us to grow our programmes and maintain its high standards of excellence and above all else; be ambassadors of AKU. Make an impact wherever you go, an impact that is reflective of the personal development, good friends and intellectual growth that you have gained at AKU.
I look forward to hearing about your generosity. Go bravely into this world and be exemplars of the University from which you are graduating today.