Dear AUN Community,
On this, the occasion of the public holiday to celebrate the Independence of Nigeria, I am reflecting on our mission as a university.
Why did I come to Nigeria? Because, to quote the French Renaissance thinker, François Rabelais, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps…”
American University of Nigeria (AUN) is an innovative learning community, located in the tranquil green valleys of Adamawa State, geared toward shifting the career curve and the future of work.
Question: If a university is a business, then what is the product of a university?
Answer: The product is the curriculum. But Google has made all knowledge available to anyone, anytime; entire curriculums are now available online for anyone to download and master. So what is a university really selling? A smart university is selling the “experience with the curriculum”. This experience includes faculty-student interaction, and recognizing that students are producers of knowledge, not just consumers of knowledge. Humans are social creatures; we are hard-wired for interaction with each other. We are not meant to be online, interacting only with computers; we are not lone wolf creatures. Learning is best, and most effective, and has the deepest impact, when there is a real human being, a teacher, and real students, in time and space, interacting.
It is an old-fashioned way of viewing students as customers, when in fact, they are the raw materials of a university – and raw materials are meant to be transformed. The goal of our university is to transform our students into capable, confident problem solvers, with an entrepreneurial mindset, ready to start their own companies, or be entrepreneurial inside existing companies, who can expand possibilities for the Nigerian economy and political landscape.
Going forward, if Nigeria invests in education and entrepreneurship, then Nigeria will leapfrog, and out-lead the world and take its rightful place on the global stage. Investing in educating the youth of a nation, females alongside males at equal rates, such that the foundation is strong as steel, is a far better investment in the future of Nigeria than rehabilitating a generation of broken and shattered women and men. It has been said that education is expensive, but lack of education is even more expensive, and this could not be more valid than in Nigeria.
We live in the digital age. So, the future of education means educating people in the areas that cannot be digitized, which includes empathy, respect, teamwork, imagination, civic responsibility, decision-making, risk-taking, vision, communication, entrepreneurial mindset, problem solving, seeing possibility, expanding horizons, and most of all, imagining and creating the better narrative. AUN is on the forefront in defining the innovation zone in higher education in these areas, through the AUN core philosophy of entrepreneurship + development. AUN’s vision is to transform beginning students into resourceful humans, so that Human Resource departments select them for their talents at problem solving and they, in turn, transform the companies they work for. A Great Perhaps, our AUN graduates will pay it forward through their impact in their careers and in their duties as active citizens, helping Nigeria chart a future of self-determination and leadership in West Africa and beyond. The time has come for this Great Perhaps.
With best regards,
Dawn Dekle, PhD
American University of Nigeria