President Dekle’s Fall 2020 Welcome Speech

President Dekle’s Fall 2020 Welcome Speech

In a special orientation session at the library auditorium, AUN President Dr. Dawn Dekle welcomed the classes of 2022 (masters) and  2024 (undergraduate& Ph.D.).

Amidst family and friends, the president gave insights into college life and their expected roles at AUN. Here is the full transcript of the President’s speech:

We are starting a school year in very uncertain times. As you know Coronavirus is still all around the world, especially in my country America. I am sure you see it in the news, but I am very glad you are here. You are very brave. I know you want to continue your education and you have made the right choice. Especially the right choice about coming to the American University of Nigeria because I firmly believe that American style education has never been more important than right now. Because what do Americans do? We take what might be a crisis or a tragedy and we turn it into an opportunity and that is what we are doing right here at this university. We are taking this pandemic and we are turning it into the continuity of education opportunity for all of us. We need to rethink what education means during a pandemic. We have to keep you safe and healthy. We also have to help you keep learning.

And what is this American style education? What does it mean? I am sure you have all googled it and have different ideas about it. But basically, in a nutshell, American style education means liberating the mind. It is a liberal education. We want to make sure you get the knowledge you came for. All of you will choose a major; Economics, Engineering, Law, all wonderful pursuits but more than anything is the liberal approach to education. It is broad-based, it lets you know the humanities approach, social science approach, and natural sciences approach to knowledge. Then what will you do with this knowledge?  You will take this knowledge and it will help your critical thinking so you can be engaged citizens. You can be entrepreneurs, you can work for the private sector in Nigeria and beyond or you can run for parliament, and I think the next female president of Nigeria is probably in this room. What do you think?

So they say, what does the future bring? Well, that makes it seem like we are waiting for the future to bring us something and we have no hand in it. I disagree with that. The future is not created by Silicon Valley. It is not created by China, it is not created by the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is created by you. It starts in universities across the world. And you are here to do that. I am really excited for you. Although we are entering this academic year wearing these masks, we are keeping each other safe so we can have a long future together. I do think after six or eight months of this, we will have a vaccine so we can put this behind us. But in the meantime, we will wear these to keep each other safe. So today we have this orientation session for you to welcome you and your families. I want to say a special thank you to the families I see in the audience. When I went to university, my family also brought me and it made the world of difference to me to have my family’s support. So I really appreciate seeing the families here today.

With each year I do an orientation, I have a theme. This year my theme is friendship because I have been doing a lot of thinking about friendship during this pandemic. We’ve all known somebody who has maybe perished because of COVID-19 or caught COVID and then recovered or a friend of a friend has and it makes you think about family but also for me personally friendship. Because we have friends across the world we cannot see and we miss them terribly and we wonder how they are doing. This morning when I was thinking about you, starting this new chapter, I was thinking about the friends you left behind in secondary school. Your best friends you played sports with and studied with, and I am sure you miss them very much. I was wondering what kind of friendships you might have at university now. You can be somebody completely different, you can reinvent yourself, you can have a new definition of friendships. How you deal with your friends, how you are a friend to other people will play into your reputation that you develop for yourself at university. This will stay with you much longer than the first job you have. So I want everybody to think about friendship today.


By Office of Communications