14th Founder’s Day Welcome Speech by Dawn Dekle

Welcome Speech by Dawn Dekle, PhD, President of American University of Nigeria at the 14th Founder’s Day Ceremony held on Saturday, November 30, 2019

Good Afternoon!

  1. His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, GCON, Founder of American University of Nigeria
  2. His Excellency Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Fintiri, Executive Governor of Adamawa State
  3. His Royal Highness, Alhaji Dr. Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa, Lamido Adamawa, represented by the Kaura of Adamawa Alhaji Mustafa Barkindo Aliyu Musdafa
  4. Akin Kekere-Ekun, Chairman, AUN Board of Trustees and all Trustees
  5. Paul Vita, Keynote Speaker, AUN 14thFounder’s Day Ceremony 
  6. Commissioner of Works and Energy Development Alhaji Adamu Atiku
  7. ProfessorMohammed Musa Malgwi, Deputy Vice Chancellor representing the Vice Chancellor, MAUTECH, Yola
  8. Professor Abdul-Mumin Sa’ad, Provost, Federal College of Education, Yola
  9. Our very distinguished guests
  10. Faculty, Staff, Alumni, and Students of AUN
  11. Press, Friends, and Ladies and Gentlemen

A warm welcome to everyone!


Today, we celebrate the founding of the university, and our achievements as an institute of public benefit. It is an occasion for our entire learning community to assemble together, and remember our mission. This year, we have a new award, the Teamwork and Collaboration Award, and I look forward to announcing the first ever winning team for this award. As the American basketball player Michael Jordan said, Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.” Again, “Talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.”


AUN can and should be the champion of higher education in Nigeria and beyond, the thought leader for higher education, and only through teamwork and collaboration can we reach that high point. In fact, our Keynote speaker, Dr. Paul Vita, will share with us his perspective on liberal arts education, which is the bedrock of our university curriculum, and our key to achieving our goal of becoming a thought leader in higher education. Liberal arts education, and teamwork and collaboration, will set us apart and ensure our successful future.


Founder’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to show-case the incredible learning environment and connected community that we have developed in our short history. We have leveraged our geographic location in northeast Nigeria to build our reputation for entrepreneurship and development. Our Founder understood this aspect from the very beginning, and that is why we are located in Adamawa State. We are here to proactively partner with the community.


One of our NYSC corpers recently sent me a quote that captures this mission perfectly. The quote is by John Bunyan, who is famous for writing The Pilgrim’s Progress, and he said, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Again, “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Our Founder lives this quote each and every day, doing things for people who can never repay him. Founding this university is the largest testament to that – he has done something for future generations of students who can never repay him, and he has touched the future of Nigeria by opening this university.


So now I ask you, how can you carry this legacy forward, what can you do for someone who can never repay you? Our students do something every semester through involvement with many community service activities beyond our campus walls, helping our community rise up and develop, without any expectation of being repaid. All of our professors do something every day in the classroom when they teach the students – our professors do not expect the students to pay them back, instead, they derive the satisfaction in seeing our students develop and transform into young men and women, ready to embark on their careers, including creating jobs for others, and meaningful civic engagement.


Our staff members also do something every day that can never be paid back – they create the conditions in which meaningful academic interactions can happen, so the magic in the classroom is possible. Finally, our Trustees and senior administration do something every day by ensuring the university is sustainable through shared governance and fiscal responsibility. AUN provides the platform for all of us to contribute to something larger than ourselves, and beyond our lifetimes.


But I believe we can all do even more. We can each lean into the growing pains of AUN, lean into the discomfort, and lean into each other – by doing so, we will move AUN forward.


Stallion Nation, I am proud of you, and stand strong with you. Our dear Founder, we are honored to call AUN our home, and we celebrate with you today. Thank you for having the vision to open this university, and for carrying all of us along with you on this wonderful journey. Happy Birthday, Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Founder’s Day!  AU-N! AU-N! AU-N! Thank you everyone, you are welcome, and good afternoon.