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Welcome Address by President Margee Ensign at the 2021 Fall Semester Convocation & Pledge Ceremony on Monday, October 18, 2021

Finding Solutions to Local, Global Problems is AUN's Core Mission

Welcome Address by President Margee Ensign at the 2021 Fall Semester Convocation & Pledge Ceremony on Monday, October 18, 2021


Welcome.  Welcome to our annual American University of Nigeria Pledge Ceremony.  Welcome students, parents, faculty and staff


Why are we all gathered here today?  Why, for that matter, are we all here at AUN?


AUN was established in 2004 by HE Atiku Abubakar for a very special reason, established with a very unique mission.  In the words of our founding document:


The American University of Nigeria seeks to become a great centre of learning and research for Nigeria and Africa and a catalyst for development in the entire world.


It will thus be a university honouring the traditional roles of repository and transmitter of culture and knowledge and become a centre for the creation of new knowledge.


These, of course, are the traditional roles of a university—teaching, learning and research.


But there is a part of our founding that is not traditional, a part that makes us unique.


For our Mission Statement goes on to say that we must play another role, that we must chart the course that “a great university must play in the development of a great nation.”


Our job then, our role, is not only to transmit knowledge, guide teaching and learning, and engage in research, but to develop solutions to local, regional, national and global problems.


This is not a secondary, peripheral part of our work at AUN. This is the heart of our work. And it all starts just outside our front gate. 


I am happy to say that this work has been well launched at AUN.  Our students-- have for many years been involved in the community development of many kinds.  Our faculty have been at the forefront of cutting-edge development research.  Our graduates have gone on to help change the world. 



I myself came here because I believe that AUN holds a special place in the history of Nigeria.  A special place here in Africa.  I came here because I believe that


together we can quite simply, quite bravely, forge a better Nigeria. Forge a better Africa.


Forge a better future for us all. 


Sometimes, I know, the current and looming problems we face in this part of the world seem daunting.  Indeed, the problems of the whole world itself seem daunting.


Climate change, challenges to our very health, threats of violence, injustice, desertification, inequality, poverty, pollution, tyranny. The challenge even of despair itself. 


But I would not be here at AUN, and you would not be here at AUN if we didn’t believe that we could take these challenges on. 


Take them on and succeed.  For our problems are human-made, and so must be the solutions. 


Our problems are human-made, and so must be the solutions.  Where do we begin?


Here at AUN, we begin with honesty and hard work. 


We look the world in the eye, we look Nigeria in the eye. Unflinching. And we find out what is really going on. Real facts, not fake facts.


We work hard to distinguish between them. We see the world’s problems for what they are and we find ways to make things better. It can be done. It must and it will be done.  And we will do it together


Coming to you from America, I know that Nigerians are one of the very most successful immigrant groups in my country. Nigerian Americans: creative, hard-working, very successful.  That of course is true- true here in Nigeria as well.  Students—you are Nigeria’s most important resource—not oil


You. You are the resource that Nigeria needs in order to succeed.


But if that effort is to succeed--and I am certain that it can succeed—if we are to succeed together,


we must be grounded in those principles taught to us by all of our various religions and ethical systems


We must be grounded in integrity.  Grounded in care for others.  Grounded in responsibility and in hard work. 


In a few moments, you will be asked to take an important step, a very important step.  You will be asked to be the first students to launch two new traditions here at AUN. 


We are going to ask all students, faculty and staff to physically commit by signing our pledge--commit to our founding and enduring values, to actually come forward and to sign the pledge, to publicly record your adherence to the AUN Oath before our entire AUN community, your new community, your university.   Students will also sign in to the university for the first time in their history


You will be asked--heart and soul and mind—asked to commit yourself to the set of bedrock principles upon which this unique university was founded.


These are the standards and ideals and goals to which we must, to which we shall adhere.  These are the standards to which we must commit ourselves if we are to succeed in our brave venture.  The standards upon which this university was founded.


Such a community, an ethically grounded community, our AUN community, such a community cannot fail. 


And now together please join me in taking the first step on this brave journey, the first step on this mission to build a better world.  Please join me in reciting our AUN integrity pledge.