Today, His Excellency Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, the Cultural Advisor to His Highness the President of the UAE and Chancellor of the United Arab Emirates University, formally opened the new academic year with a speech to the University Convocation – an assembly of the entire university community. He used his address to assert the original purpose of the university. He reminded the community that His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan established the United Arab Emirates University in 1976 in the spirit of union, to bring together young people from every Emirate, to form a student community that represents the newly formed nation. “This makes union the university’s symbolic purpose; it is the strength and the spirit of the university community”, he said.
The University Convocation was held in a hybrid format, with a small invited audience joining His Excellency in person, and live-streamed to all faculty members, staff, and students.
The Chancellor said, “I take pride in our success in meeting the challenges of the pandemic and securing our safe return to the university campus. We can enjoy getting together, engaging in fruitful conversations, understanding each other with respect for our differences. These activities are fundamental to our solidarity and coexistence; and living together as one family. With care, we will be able to do this safely, protecting everybody’s welfare”.
“This means that we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of our nation’s union together. We will participate in Expo 2020 Dubai, the event that brings the world together to discuss, learn, establish relationships, and create networks. We will also witness the UAE’s entry to the United Nations Security Council as an elected member. There the UAE will work with the world’s leaders to find the means necessary for achieving peace and wellbeing across the globe.
His Excellency described the lessons he had drawn from his work with His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed. The most important were to have a love of learning, and to believe that nothing is impossible. He declared three main purposes of a University. The first, to educate, create knowledge, create value for society, and produce future leaders. The second, to pursue excellence and represent distinction through an education system that enables students and faculty to achieve unique and valuable scientific advances. The third is symbolize unity, to represent the spirit of our union. He said, “We work together as one community with a common identity and shared goals in education, research and service. We work collegially with respect and care for each other’s ideas and differences. We are a tolerant community that knows how to offer criticism and to disagree without wishing harm to others. We are a family that welcomes everyone and whose diversity is its greatest power”.
The Convocation was also addressed by Professor Emeritus Hans de Wit, former Director, and current Distinguished Fellow of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College, USA. Professor de Wit explained that the internationalization of higher education is an engine for social development and sustainability and one of its key drivers. He set out a series of questions about past trends in internationalization in higher education and the defining directions for the future. He said that, “Increased geopolitical, social, and economic tensions underline the need for international academic collaboration. As described under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the social and economic needs we face as a planet such as global health, climate and poverty, these demand that we place greater emphasis on the internationalization of education, research, and service to society”.
His Excellency concluded the meeting by conferring the Chancellor’s Awards for Institutional Excellence 2019 - 2020. The awards recognize staff and faculty members who have achieved distinction in the execution of their roles and service. The awards and winners are:
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