Inaugural Remarks by President Dawn Dekle at 10th Commencement Ceremony of AUN, May 19, 2018.
Good morning. I stand on existing protocols.
Thank you to:
Our Founder, who had the vision to imagine this university;
The Board of Trustees, who placed their faith in me to lead this university;
Past AUN Presidents, on whose accomplishments and shoulders I stand;
The faculty, who are our experts and rock stars in the classroom;
The staff, who provide the quiet support and complementary programs for our learning community and push us to be our best;
The leaders of sister universities and colleges, who share our aspirations for a prosperous Nigeria;
Government officials and legislators, who support our mission;
Benefactors, stakeholders, and alumni, who financially invest in our future;
Regional and religious leaders, who welcome us as guests in their communities;
Devoted family and friends, who have provided strong, loving roots;
And finally, thank you to our talented students, who are graduating today. You will hear them roar as they make their lives masterpieces.
Thank you! [Clapping]
I firmly believe that our Founder, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, GCON, has given a wonderful gift to Nigeria – AUN. I believe our best way to show gratitude for this gift is to make AUN sustainable for generations of students to come. Our gift back to our Founder will be a sustainable AUN. Therefore, from this day forward, the day of my inauguration, I wish to be known as the Sustainability President. I understand the challenges involved, as sustainability will require approaches and ideas that are not in place today. It will require all of us to have an entrepreneurial and growth mindset. We can take some guidance from American President and Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, who said, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” If we are to grow and move forward, we must take risks, and we must step outside of our comfort zones and invent new approaches to building AUN.
Jointly we are responsible for, and are custodians of, AUN. The decisions that need to be made are in our hands. The policies that govern us point the way ahead. Our shared governance will unlock our imaginations.
I must warn you, there will be cynics who try to bury us, who talk badly about us, who do not want us to succeed. Let them talk. Let them try to put obstacles in our way. Do not be distracted by them, however. We must remember our Mexican brothers and sisters, who have a proverb about this: Mexicans will say, “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds!” Indeed. As the 2016 AUN class speaker said, “America provides the seed, but Nigeria is the soil!”. I would like to take her metaphor a step further now and assert that all of us are the seeds. Each of us has the capacity to grow to our potential when placed in what seems, at first, like adverse conditions. We are all seeds, and we will all grow in this environment.
I would like also to propose that we pursue not just sustainability, but SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES. I envision AUN becoming part of a much larger, colorful tapestry, one that is part of a vibrant and active northeastern Nigeria corridor. My vision for AUN is based on the belief that access to the benefits of education supports a dynamic and prosperous society. Today, I invite you to consider what will be your contribution to this colorful tapestry. Each of you has an important role to play in this colorful tapestry, this AUN Alliance. Together, we will transform this vision into a plan.
What does this all mean?
Nigeria is undergoing a remarkable transformation, a renaissance, and I am thrilled to be part of this celebration. Developing education is an important pillar in building national stability and the key to transformation.
Nigeria becomes the third largest country in the world, behind China and India…
Nigeria has a powerful voice and influence in the global arena…
Nigeria becomes the hub for peacekeeping and thought leadership in Africa…
Nigeria becomes ground zero for solutions to public health problems…
Well, you can stop imagining, because, in our lifetimes, this will be a reality. I am here today to tell you that AUN is charting a course to this future –
Today, I am launching a new hashtag, #AUNLeads. We will not be Nigeria’s best-kept secret any longer. We will be top of mind as thought leaders in education, and we will be bottom of heart in our growing AUN family, of which you are all members. #AUNLeads will go where no university has gone before, paving the way for other universities to follow.
We are going to rock Nigeria, rock Africa, and claim our place on the world stage for higher education.
It is with humility and dedication that I accept the Presidency of American University of Nigeria. I see myself not just as your President, but as AUN’s champion of integration and engagement.
I, therefore, pledge to uphold the AUN mission and to do all that I can to propel our entire learning community forward and to carry everyone along. Together let’s marshal AUN toward outreach, engagement, and service to all, as a true institute of public benefit.