Welcome Address: Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi, Vice Chancellor LUMS
“Abdul Razak Dawood, Rector and a true benefactor of LUMS; our honoured guest Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and as the tenth Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, a fellow Pakistani we can all be proud of; current members of the Board of Trustees, esteemed faculty members; parents, friends and family of the students and dear graduates of the class of 2016.
Welcome to the 28th Convocation Ceremony of the Lahore University of Management Sciences.
LUMS is a voyage of discovery and today, at this convocation of 2016, we celebrate the treasures you unveiled and the harbour you have arrived at. A journey within 20,000 leagues into the depths of the ocean residing inside each of you. A journey outward, into space and beyond; “seeking out new areas of knowledge, new interests, boldly going where angels feared to tread, and certainly where you had not been before.” (Sorry Capt. Kirk!)
This convocation recognises you the bold explorers, docking into your first port of call. Graduates, this degree that you will hold in your hand, certifies you as Captains of your own unique ship. Where you decide to head is your choice and should you decide to build a new ship later; that is your prerogative too. We can vouch today that you have the skills and confidence to do that.
Graduates of 2016, please rise and be acknowledged as the master voyagers you are becoming.
It has been a year of many big developments, especially for the graduates of the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law, patiently waiting for their turn at the podium. At least that is the hope! This past fall they moved into their very own 80,000 square foot building, with the fabulous Asifa-Irfan Moot Court Room, which played host to the National, as well as, SAARC moot court competition. Subsequently, team LUMS went to the International Rounds at Oxford and was declared the best new team at the Jessup; generally regarded as the most prestigious moot court competition in the world.
The LUMS Law Journal continued to set new standards of legal scholarship in the country, edited by the students. It is no wonder that these law graduates have been accepted into Master programmes at the premier law institutions of the world, and the best law firms of the country. As a pioneer of the 5-year law programme in the country, LUMS continues to set the benchmark for legal education.
The energetic Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the largest and most diverse school of LUMS started a new tradition of informed civic discourse, through the LUMS Quarterly Debates, bringing the hottest issues of the day to the table, together with the leading proponents and detractors, to the debating table. Starting with the proposal to “adopt a hardline stance on India,” to the motion, “that the prime minister should not resign in the wake of Panama Leaks,” I can assure you that there was never a dull moment.
The School played host to a galaxy of prominent speakers including Lord Meghnad Desai, former speaker of the British House of Lords, Professor Lant Pritchett from the Harvard Kennedy School, and Professor Craig Calhoun, President of the London School of Economics (LSE) speaking about 'The Future of Capitalism,’ just to name a few.
Yet another initiative saw the launch of the Saida Waheed Gender Initiative, thanks to the generosity of the family of Justice Nasira Iqbal. In less than a year, the Initiative has already made a mark within LUMS and beyond, bringing important conversations about gender to LUMS, constantly pushing boundaries and engendering new research, courses and public events dealing with gender issues.
A series of research workshops conducted by globally renowned scholars made sure LUMS faculty remains at the cutting edge of scholarship in their areas, while agreements signed with the University of Cambridge and University of Michigan, allowed our students to spend time at some of the leading institutions of the world.
The school’s courses continued to chart new territory. A seminar course was offered on ‘The Idea of Justice’ to which 12 faculty members from different areas contributed, each dissecting the idea of justice from a different disciplinary perspective. Mr. Majid Sheikh taught a highly popular course on the History of Lahore producing a number of interesting projects that are being turned into a book.
Years ago when LUMS took you under its wings and opened its hallways, its friendship, its excitement to all who qualified on merit alone, we did not know where you would go, what you would discover, and what you would accomplish. We just knew that you had talent, ability, energy and the support of your parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, family members, neighbours, teachers and many more. And we had an unshakeable belief in you.
Today, we celebrate your discoveries through the tears of joy, hidden in the corners of their eyes. Graduates, may I request you to rise and honor your parents and loved one, who made it possible for you to get here.
Leading the way in journal publications in top-tier international journals, students and faculty of the Syed Babar Ali School of Science & Engineering continued to set new benchmarks of success. Publishing over 150 journal papers during 2015 and receiving more than 100 Million in funding by winning competitive research grants, the school cemented its leadership position in science and engineering. Early this year we inaugurated the Water informatics and technology center, bringing technology to bear on the problem of understanding information about water. The warnings about the water stressed future of Pakistan are dire indeed and it is envisioned that this center will play a leading role in developing an understanding about the problems at hand. Ironically the project causing greater waves ‘pun intended’ is the Biomechanics laboratory that will assist with the diagnosis of faulty bowling actions of the Pakistani cricketers, among other things.
SBASSE has led the way in placements of its students at top-tier international universities. Consider, for example that 12 of the 14 Chemistry graduates received offers for fully funded PhD programmes, while 30 computer scientists (20 fully funded) head out for graduate studies. Together with the rapidly increasing demand for its graduate programmes, SBASSE heads into an exciting future indeed.
Let’s talk business now. Specifically, the Suleman Dawood School of Business, the oldest school of the University with its flagship MBA program. The enviable local and international placement record of its graduates provides a clear indication of the high esteem in which this school is placed by the both the students and employers. In order to ensure the quality of education, about 2 years ago, SDSB embarked upon a journey of getting the school accredited by AACSB. (less than 5% of the business schools internationally are AACSB accredited). I am glad to share that school has already achieved the first major milestone in this regard.
Ladies and Gentlemen, SDSB graduating undergraduates scored among the top 1% of their peers at US institutions taking the ETS major subject test, designed to measure critical knowledge and understanding of students in key subject areas of business.
These focused and disciplined professionals of SDSB – yes, you guys, have not, however, forgotten the human at the centre of it all. Last semester, students in Ghazal Zulfiqar’s “Women and policy in Pakistan” course, carried out research on toilets—and the women who clean it; theorised as a site where class, income, racial and gender structures intersect. This work resulted in an invitation to present the research and its policy implications at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
A distinctive feature of SDSB has been its close engagement with industry through the Rausing Executive Development Centre. The businessman’s business school, SDSB, has conducted programmes for more than 3,000 executives over the past two years; certainly a reflection of the relevance of knowledge produced by SDSB faculty in the eyes of industry. The PhD thesis on the Dairy Supply Chain, whose author graduates today, documents cutting edge operations research with the potential to generate substantial savings for firms dealing in packaged milk.
Graduates of 2016, take pride in what you have accomplished, and as you do so take a moment to rise and salute the faculty, without whom neither this institution, nor these graduates would be standing here today.
Beyond academics, there are these tumultuous rapids; affectionately known as “Life @ LUMS”. Each year LUMS internally hosts more extracurricular events on campus than there are days in the academic year. 263 to be precise this past year. At peak times there are three or more major events going on on-campus concurrently straining our logistical capabilities and sometime the nerve of the student organisers to the limits. More than 10,000 students participated from outside the campus in these events.
Ladies and Gentlemen, these graduates are forged in fire, with a heart of gold.
Consider the LUMS community service society LCSS Olympics for kids with special needs that has become part of our annual calendar. This society has also proved adept in drawing blood, drawing 270 litres each semester. Consider also team FATE – From Apathy to Empathy winning first prize in the State Department sponsored international competition on challenging extremism.
And ladies and gentlemen, these graduates will find jobs faster, at higher pay and in ever diverse fields. They have also been busy creating jobs. Companies graduating from the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship are currently valued at more than US$8Million and employ hundreds of people, bringing in an annual revenue of more than US$1.25 Million.
Take this opportunity today to walk around this beautiful campus. Each building, walkway, flower bed, book, piece of equipment is a gift. An investment in the future of this country by the National Management Foundation and the overwhelming generosity of our benefactors who have made this wonderful university possible. Living what the Greatest, Muhammad Ali so eloquently stated, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”
Much has been accomplished but that has only gone to sharpen our dreams of greater heights for LUMS. Ladies and Gentlemen, LUMS has delivered on its promise of a world class education, irrespective of need. Students from Hunza in the north to Layyah, Mithi and Zhob in the South and West have come to LUMS and won the laurels that we celebrate today. I take this opportunity to request the support of each one of you to continue to realise our ambitious dreams.
Graduates, when you cross the threshold of this podium and bask in your success, you do realise that you then become Alumni. But if you think that you can separate your spirit from LUMS, think again. This institution goes with you. It is you now.