Dear AUN Community,
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.” Celebrated American writer Mark Twain is credited with this quote, and on this, my first day at AUN, I feel a connection to his words.
I have made my career as an international educator, but when I arrived in Nigeria, and on the AUN campus, I believe I gained a new perspective on that career. Today, my first day as your president, I am filled with gratitude and joy. To be part of something as significant as this university, is the realization of a long-held dream I have had about how I wished my life to unfold. It is important to me that the campus community know I am smiling from the deepest and best part of myself about joining the AUN learning community; that you know how grateful I am for the Board of Trustees’ support; and how I have been overwhelmed with the emails, phone calls, and letters of welcome from faculty, staff, and students. Thank you.
As I packed up my life in Mongolia to move to Nigeria, I was reminded of the words of Genghis Khan, the founder of the Mongol Empire. He said, “Conquering the world on horseback is easy, it is dismounting and governing that is hard.” I believe at AUN, we are at a similar inflection point – we have a solid base at our campus, and now is the time to consolidate what we have and continue the hard work of shared governance, shared consciousness, and shared responsibility. Genghis Khan was successful because he united all of the various tribes and ethnic groups of northeast and central Asia, towards a common goal, and I believe we can together develop the next strategic plan for AUN that will galvanize the learning community and move us towards being the best university in Nigeria and West Africa.
How do we accomplish this? AUN’s Class of 2016 Speaker, the inspiring Maryam Maina Ma’aji Lawan said it best in her speech, “America has the seed, but Nigeria indeed has the soil.” It is the mix of the two that will allow AUN to prosper and thrive many generations into the future. It is through teamwork that we will realize the potential of AUN, with each of you contributing a verse to the AUN symphony.
Before we move forward, it is important to pause and reflect and thank the people who have stewarded the university through challenging times. First, I want to thank Margee Ensign, who has been the fearless, tireless leader of the university and has many remarkable accomplishments during her seven-year tenure as president. We will continue her initiatives with the same enthusiasm and passion as we begin a new chapter in AUN’s development. AUN wishes her well in her new posting as president of Dickinson College. We know she will remain a loyal friend of AUN and we appreciate and acknowledge her continued support. Second, I want to thank LeGene Quesenberry, who stepped up to become interim president during the interlude, overseeing spring activities and planning for the May graduation, Board of Trustees meeting, and other initiatives. Third, I want to thank Ahmad Hosseini, for his service as interim provost, including a continuation of the entrepreneurial programs at AUN, which are stronger now because of his guidance. AUN appreciates all they have done during this transition process to develop AUN as the premier American-style, entrepreneurial, development university in Africa.
I look forward to imagining, envisioning, and creating our future together at AUN.
With best regards,
Dawn Dekle, PhD
American University of Nigeria