Rector, LUMS, Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood, founding trustee and great benefactor of LUMS; our convocation speaker Dr. Ishrat Husain, former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and former Director of IBA, whom I have had the privilege of knowing and working with for nearly two decades. Dr. Husain is an intellectual, a strategist and one of the rare ones who ‘Walks the Talk.’ A person, whom we all take pride in calling one of our own.
Members of the Board of Trustees, esteemed Faculty members; parents, friends and families of the students and, most important of all, Graduates of the Class of 2018. You are indeed very special to me as I have welcomed you for 5 years now, to these grounds and now have the honour of bidding you adieu as you set sail; Captains of your own ships; Masters of your destiny; setting sail, eyes locked on the horizon of your goals; relishing the opportunity to conquer the world.
Assalam Alaikum and Welcome to the 30th Convocation Ceremony for the 31st graduating batch of the Lahore University of Management Sciences. This unique and special day, when we look back, only to discover that the pull from the future is too strong. The heart aflutter with emotions; the head calmly looking forward. The classic “battle” between the heart and the head. LUMS has sharpened your reasoning ability but you have also seen reason swept aside by the clap of thunder on a moonlit monsoon night as you searched for the meaning of your existence, strumming your guitar hiding underneath the umbrella near the khokha. But who has led us to believe that it is indeed a battle? Are we not searching for harmony between the two? “Inner Peace” as practiced by the great Oogway in my most favourite movie of all times, “Kung fu Panda.”
Let us take a trip down memory lane, allowing the flood of memories to nourish and guide us … and look ahead to enjoy the vision of our, yet unfulfilled, destiny. You. Each and every one of you, who will be the entrepreneurs, captains of industry, dreamers, strategists, innovators, humanists, legal specialists, scholars and leaders who will have the skills, knowledge and ability to be the leaders whose incorruptible value system will always guide them to do the right thing. Because that is what this beautiful country deserves and because that is what it means to be a Luminite.
Graduates of 2018 please rise and be recognised….
We honour your talent, your energy, your hard work, your dedication and discipline that has propelled you to this stage. We also give notice to the world that the rumble you hear now is only a response to our call, “Ladies/Gentlemen, Start your Engines!” The race is yet to start.
Or, in more colloquial terms, “Abhi to party shuru hoi hay!”
While you have been busy, meeting the ambitious standards set by LUMS to allow you to walk the stage today, your alma mater has also been racing ahead. Over your period of stay at LUMS, we have jumped nearly 90 places in international rankings, joined the ranks of top 50 universities in Asia in terms of employer reputation, recorded more than a 1,000 internationally recognised research publications, established the Master’s programmes in the School of Science and Engineering, witnessed a ten-fold growth in our PhD programmes in Business, Science and Engineering, increased scholarship funding nearly three-fold (scholarship budget for next year is nearly PKR 1 Billion), launched two new schools (Law and Education), initiated new majors in English and History, established the LUMS Centre for Entrepreneurship that has now grown to include two National Incubation Centres in Lahore and Quetta with more than a Billion rupees grant from Ignite, added nearly 500 rooms for students to reside on campus, built the new Law School, built the swimming pool, inaugurated a new medical centre, completely revamped the dining facilities, built the promenade across PDC and most important of all recruited more than a 100 PhD qualified faculty members to reduce the student-teacher ratio and build the institutional core to attain the vision of LUMS.
I have described what you see, however, underneath this edifice lies the operational heart of LUMS, digitally interconnected, rule based, employing world-class software, wonderfully managed by dedicated teams of experts who work to allow you to race ahead with all your ambitions and maddening plans; taking it all for granted. Just as you, the Graduates, at your Commencement, look ahead to spectacular successes, LUMS aims to accelerate its dizzying rate of progress to join the ranks of the pre-eminent educational institutions of this region.
A significant academic development this year has been the launch of the new Syed Ahsan Ali – Syed Maratib Ali School of Education, generously endowed by the Syed Babar Ali Foundation which has remained the most generous supporter of this University. This Fall the School is preparing to launch the MPhil in Education Leadership and Management (ELM) degree programme, targeting the nexus of research, policy and practice, with an innovative curriculum, including residency in an educational organisation. It is envisioned that the graduates of this programme will provide strategic direction to the education sector as leaders of education reform in the country. The School is also offering various undergraduate courses with the goal of developing a minor in Education in the future.
The Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law, home to Pakistan’s Rhodes Scholar Sana Naeem, has firmly established itself as the premier legal intellectual hub of the country, hosting, together with the Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences, the conference on courts and politics in Pakistan, bringing together scholars from different parts of the world to debate possibly the most important current issues. The School is also on its way to becoming the world’s leading study centre for the study of Pakistani constitutional law, with faculty members publishing two books and several articles in this area. Focusing on practical lawyering skills, we are now offering a sequence of four mandatory legal practice courses. An exciting new development is the establishment of the Centre for Chinese Legal Studies to help provide the legal framework for reaping the benefits of CPEC.
The Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering remained the hub of innovation and research, witnessing a sharp rise both in research funding as well as publications on areas ranging from cancer treatment to collusion networks creating fake likes and influencing elections and energy efficient thermal comfort; all international award winning works involving multidisciplinary teams of students and faculty members. The laurels don’t end there, as the SSE team won the highly competitive award for the establishment of a National Centre in Big Data & Cloud Computing with LUMS leading a large consortium of local universities. New initiatives include the establishment of the LUMS Energy Institute which is expected to lay the foundation of a sustainable, renewable energy future for the country. A collaborative project with Bulleh Shah Packaging (BSP) for transforming Biomass Ash into construction materials is expected to results in products hitting the market very soon. A crowning achievement is the graduation today of 9 PhD Scholars, by far the largest group in the history of LUMS.
All of this has been possible due to the dedication, talent and innovative genius of the LUMS Faculty. Graduates, may I request you to rise and acknowledge them.
The Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences (MGSHSS), in essence the Liberal Arts College at LUMS, sharpened its attention on educational outcomes that are closely calibrated with the challenges of a complex and volatile world. Inculcating the transferable skills of creative and critical thinking, inquiry and analysis, teamwork and problem solving along with responsibility and civic engagement, the School continued to break new ground; as an example consider the history course offered jointly with the OP Jindal University, India to study a ‘shared but highly contested past.’ Students from both institutions discussing the historical processes and lenses that impact our present state.
The School held its first International Punjabi Conference, and later in the year hosted a CPEC focused conference in collaboration with the University of Nottingham. Several international workshops on history, modernity, urban issues and literary texts were also held. A new Core Curriculum for its undergraduate studies has been planned for the class joining this year. The School will continue to streamline and enhance the capacity of its Student Advising Unit (SAU).
The Suleman Dawood School of Business, home of Pakistan’s business community, expanded its interactions with industry with a goal of ensuring that 50% of the cases taught at the Executive and Regular MBA programme, have local content. A new programme, CEOs at LUMS brought local leaders to campus with ‘live case’ discussions on business successes and failures in the local environment. Keep in mind that these local cases, meet international standards. Since Fall 2017, a selection of cases produced by SDSB faculty are now available at Harvard University’s Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) website. Witnessing a sharp rise in international publications, SDSB faculty ensure that research and applied scholarship go hand in hand with teaching, business engagement and service.
Always aspiring to explore new areas, developing new strategic relationships with businesses, the Rausing Executive Development Centre (REDC) launched a pioneering programme on Leadership in Higher Education addressing real time issues related to governance, policy making and leadership development for senior university management. A new programme was also launched – ‘Law for Business Executives’ providing comprehensive introduction to the essential laws and regulations for running successful businesses.
Most of all, however, it is a day to honour each and every graduate, their parents, families, friends and communities. Graduates, please rise to honour the ones who were always there; your parents and the people who made today possible.
So much to reminisce, so much to share, so much to be thankful for. Today, I am one of you; a graduate of the 2018 batch; I and you, depart with you from these fabulous grounds and leaving a part of my heart behind in each and every corner of the campus and with each person who has enriched my life and made it truly special.
Onward! In search of inner peace.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift.” Enjoy it!