Welcome Address: Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi, Vice Chancellor LUMS
"Mr. Faisal Farid, an honoured member of the Board of Trustees who is also an alumnus, MBA Class of 1989, and serial entrepreneur; Ms. Asma Jahangir, eminent lawyer and human rights activist, our esteemed speaker of the convocation, winner of the Ramon Magsayasay award; honored guests; respected faculty members, parents, friends and family of graduates of the Class of 2015, Assalamm Alaikum and welcome, on this hot summer day, to the 27th Convocation Ceremony of LUMS.
Today we celebrate and take time to reflect on the accomplishments of the Luminites gathered before us. We also salute the “village” of parents, friends, loved ones and of course faculty members who made this day possible.
As students, the time you have spent here may appear to have passed in a flash but I can assure you on behalf of our faculty that this class of 2015 has earned the right to be here. They have toiled day and night, written reports, given presentations and taken multiple quizzes and exams in a single day and have pushed themselves in ways that they never imagined was possible and, because they are Luminites, they also staged plays, held debates, went on treks, taught in schools, organized robot competitions, played sports, started new ventures, always travelling the path less trodden.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I request the graduates of 2015 to please rise to honour this spirit of LUMS, embodied by them. Let us recognize the arduous journey that has brought them here, and let us recognize the grit, determination and passion that allowed them to triumph over all adversity.
Graduates, this is your day but let us pause to salute your parents, families and loved ones. They were behind you every step of the way, and many a times, ahead of you, to clear the paths you walked. Applaud them and pay tribute to them for this day would certainly not have been possible without their unwavering support, guidance, nurturing, and, of course, corrections.
At LUMS, excellence is not a destination; it’s a way of life. We believe that the most profound education is learning how to evolve, adapt, improve and unlearn and learn, an ethos defined and embodied by the Suleman Dawood School of Business. SDSB graduates enjoy a stellar reputation that has helped LUMS be rated among the top 60 schools in Asia in terms of employer reputation. SDSB has continued to add to its substantial faculty and now boasts by far the largest PhD qualified faculty (48 of them) in the country, leading the No. 1 business school in the country. Most recently the award of Rs. 52.64 Million by the State Bank of Pakistan for set up of the Center for Islamic Finance led by Saad Azmat, as well as establishment of the USAID-funded Center for Governance and Public Management, that has trained almost 4000 public and development Sector professionals, along with a Minor in Governance and Public Management, point to new heights to be attained in the future.
The Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences, has expanded its faculty ranks, hiring 7 new faculty members with PhDs from Oxford, Austin, SOAS and others. While it enrolls nearly a 1,000 students, it serves as the backbone of the university, with students from every school taking its delightful course offerings on topics as varied as Witchcraft and statecraft…topics, which we do tend to confuse with each other at times!
Honours and awards have been showered on the school. Bilal Tanweer won the 2014 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize for his novel "The Scatter Here Is Too Great", a book that was also shortlisted for South Asia’s biggest literary award. Dr. Ali Usman Qasmi won The Karachi Literature Festival Peace Prize 2015. Fellowship to Oxford, Princeton, Harvard and Cambridge are just a few of the additional honours won by the faculty. Research in the School has spanned, amongst others, topics as diverse as cinema, religion and conflict, inner city Lyari, bazaar networks in Central Asia and food poverty and farm level outcomes. Students of the school won 27 Fulbright scholarships this year, were admitted to Chicago, MIT, Oxford and Cambridge, research positions at UNICEF, the UN headquarters in New York, the World Bank in Washington, among others, and seven of them joined the Civil Service after excelling in the CSS examination.
The Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering led the way with student placement at the premier graduate schools of the world. 20 Computer Science students applying for graduate education won 60 offers (90% of them fully funded) from institutions such as MIT, Harvard and Carnegie Mellon. A Chemistry graduate landed fully funded PhD scholarship offers from Princeton and Yale. 15 new faculty members have joined the school, raising the total to 72 faculty members. We are working to understand the mango ripening process at the molecular level, exploring new HIV and Hepatitis vaccines, electronically mapping the water courses and using string theory to understand the fundamental building blocks of matter. Working with the Police department the Technology for People Initiative has developed a crime mapping App and is assisting the judiciary electronically capture case details for ease of access to information by the honourable judges.
The newly established Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law has begun to flourish now with three graduates of 2015 gaining admission to the Harvard Law School, while one was admitted to Berkeley. Sikandar Shah’s book on “International Law and Drone Strikes” was published by Routledge, and received international recognition. A student edited law journal was launched, students also clerked for justices of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice of Pakistan, and made it to the final rounds at Oxford University as well as the Jessup Moot Competition in USA. A brand new 80,000 square foot dedicated building for the School of Law is in the final stages of completion and we hope to initiate academic programs in it this Fall.
Each school builds upon its successes and aspires for new heights!
All made possible by our fantastic faculty. Graduates, may I request you to rise and pay tribute to these learned men and women, who have made this day possible for you.
We celebrate today but the heaviness in our hearts will not go away. Six months ago, brutal terrorists snatched our beautiful innocent children in Peshawar. We will never forget that. May I request a moment of silence for them.
Tragedy also struck this graduating batch when Shahzad from the law school slipped and was taken away by the fast flowing waters of the Kabul river. His father has been invited to be with us today. Shahzad’s colleagues from the law school, together with faculty members, honour his memory by drafting legislation for the protection of waterways, that will assist in preventing such accidents in the future.
As a change agent for Economic Growth the LUMS Center for entrepreneurship, established just a year ago, has scouted, groomed and put out 13 high-growth businesses into the local economy while 16 are currently incubated in its 3rd cohort. These businesses have created more than 120 direct jobs, 350 indirect jobs, generated a combined annualized revenue of 200,000 USD and raised nearly 600,000 USD in investment at a combined valuation of approximately 5,000,000 USD. 13 of the 14 start-ups from the first two cohorts are still operational and working full time on their products and services. InterActa, MARO Tandoors (yes the infamous Nutella Naan), Savaree, Vivid, AutoGenie, and H&O Solutions are some of the names that have come out of the LCE. Over 70 entrepreneurs were groomed at LCE in the past 12 months who, hopefully, will continue to grow their respective businesses and create a lot more jobs and wealth creation opportunities. Impact is not always measured with money and the social entrepreneurship laboratory is working with ventures bringing a change to the lives of the people, one smile at a time.
This year testing at LUMS went global with the introduction of SAT & GMAT. High average scores achieved by the applicants admitted support our belief that LUMS is ready to compete in the international arena. An exciting new initiative in this regards is our partnership with the Afghanistan Government allowing the setup of an “Afghan Scholarship Program” to bring the best and brightest Afghani students to LUMS on merit, with full support by the Afghan Government.
Placements for our students is another top priority that has seen the Career Services Office at the OSA evolve from an employment facilitator to an active prospector for employment and higher academic placement. More than 80% of all 2014 undergraduate students were placed within the first three months of their graduation, and we also saw active involvement of international recruiters on campus.
While we ensured that access to LUMS was assured to all, we continued to enhance the National Outreach Program, expanding its reach to nearly 300 schools and colleges all over Pakistan.
As you can see LUMS is already green but during this past year we have gone further, and launched a 300KW solar system on our roofs along with conversion to LED lights ensuring that the rapidly growing campus’s did not consume more energy. A sprinkler system operating on cleaned wastewater ensures good water citizenship and green lawns.
LUMS also became the first and only university in Pakistan to provide 1 Gbps Internet Bandwidth to its community. With hostels fully wireless enabled, we teamed up with Microsoft through HEC to provide 50 GB of cloud email space and 1TB of storage to all users. LUMS Alumni of the class of 2015, I am pleased to inform you that you will take this facility with you as you cross over the threshold of graduation today.
This pace of development will only increase with the new hostel for girls (almost completed), construction initiated on a new boy’s hostel and construction to be initiated on the swimming pool. How, you may ask, is this possible? And how will we attain our future ambitious targets of regional excellence? We do not need to look far because our greatest strength has been the founders and trustees of LUMS, our alumni and our friends … and you join their ranks today. Something quite close to home for me as two of my sisters are Alumni, MBA Class of 1990 and EMBA Class of 2014.
Graduating class of 2015, remember that as alumni, you will carry the name of LUMS with you everywhere you go. You are the future of LUMS.
Represent us proudly and represent us well.
Today is a momentous day in your lives. Savour this day. Paint your canvas of life with strokes that will make you and your friends and family proud of who you are and what you have done for yourself, for this country, for the world. Remember one person can make a difference.
Let it be you.