LUMS Convocation 2014 Welcome Address: LUMS Vice Chancellor, Dr. Syed Sohail Naqvi

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rector, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood, a true benefactor of LUMS; our honoured guest Mr. Salman Amin, a son of Lahore and Chief Operating Office of the Fortune 500 company SC Johnson &Son, who inaugurated the LUMS Trading Room yesterday named after his father Mr. Shaikh Irshad Ahmad, member of the founding Board of Trustees of LUMS; Current members of the Board of Trustees, Esteemed Faculty Members; Parents, friends and family of the students and Dear Graduates of The Class of 2014.

Welcome to the 26th Convocation Ceremony of the Lahore University of Management Sciences.

The ceremony today brings to a closure my first year at LUMS but with my youngest sister the gold medalist of the 3rd batch of LUMS’ flagship MBA programme and older sister graduating today with an Executive MBA, I can certainly lay claim to a long and close personal relationship with this illustrious university. Over these years, LUMS has not paused to rest on its laurels; it has pursued a path of excellence, reached out to the disadvantage brilliant students across the country, increased scholarship, collaborated with universities and research centers locally and internationally and launched numerous projects that touch the lives of tens of thousands of Pakistanis every day.

Today is a very special day indeed, for me personally just as it is for each family member of the graduates present. As you get ready to commence your life as a graduate, let us pause to pay homage and tribute to those who have been there from the start. Those who helped you with your first steps and were the first shoulder you leaned on when times were not so kind.

Graduates of 2014 may I request you to please rise. We recognise your parents without whom this day would not have been possible. Please applaud for them and convey to them our thanks from the bottom of our hearts.

The past year has witnessed LUMS making great headway towards achieving its vision of becoming an “Internationally acclaimed research university that serves society through excellence in education and research.” Consider the Suleman Dawood School of Business Nineteen of whose PhD qualified faculty have worked, at no cost, the entire yearfor the restructuring and reform of Pakistan Railways so that it may become profitable once again. One group of faculty members is advising them on usage of advertising space at various train stations and passenger trains along with pricing and bundling options which are attractive to advertisers and bring maximum advertising revenue to Pakistan Railways. A second group has analyzed costing accounting methods and proposed improvements which should enable Pakistan Railways to make workshop products or services competitive in terms of cost.Based on a conservative estimate (agreed between LUMS faculty and Railways Workshop Finance team), our proposed costing model at PR workshop can result in an incremental yearly contribution of more than Rs. 600M in just the steel shop.

Through the assessment and strengthening programme, housed in SDSB, the managerial capacity of nearly 2,500 public sector and civil society organisation employees has been increased. LUMS has carried out this work in partnership with the Balochistan University of IT and Management Sciences, Quetta, Institute of Management Sciences, Peshawar and Institutes of Business Administration at Sukhur and Karachi.

The year-long Executive Certificate in Agribusiness Management (ECAM) is another initiative positively impacting agribusiness entrepreneurs, progressive farmers and agri-related enterprises in Pakistan.

Moving on to the Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences, where the Department of Economics’ reputation has afforded its faculty the opportunity to undertake research work on public policy issues of international and national significance including analysing the challenges and potential of Pakistan-India trade, medium term growth strategies for Punjab and KPK, Skills development in the Punjab and State and Police reform.

The Department of Humanities and Social Sciences faculty, … Anybody here from this department that graduates its first English major today? published 13 book chapters and 9 books on topics ranging from cinema, cricket, and Muslim women identity to Religious Extremism and Urban Pakistan. This scholarship helps us understand who we are and how we relate to our surroundings, and stands sentinel over the basic values of a liberal arts education at LUMS. Where else would a discussion on the Centenary of the First World War take place, who else would host the writer’s workshop and inspire students to direct and perform “Twinkle twinkle main bangaya star,” for 10 days at the Alhamra Arts Council.

LUMS students do definitely rock.

The new Shaikh Ahmad School of Law, 29 of whose graduate eagerly await the award of BA-LLB degree, is also beginning to make its mark, providing a forum for debate on the critical legal issues facing the country including the 18th Amendment, the Pakistan Protection Ordinance, the ethics of drone warfare, and so on.

When talking about the value of scientific research and societal impact, what more can be important than water for the future of Pakistan. During the past few years, our electrical engineering faculty and students from the Syed Babar Ali School of Science and Engineering, of which I am a proud faculty member, have been reaching out to water users and government agencies with the vision of a smart water grid for the Indus basin. Our undergrads have developed and deployed electronic water metering networks in the Bahawalnagar district to study water efficiency & equity; our masters students have simulated and analyzed provincial water accords and the working of organizations like IRSA under the stresses of climate change and political uncertainty; and the PhD students are developing cutting edge research with international partners to develop flying robots to inspect water channels for help in bhal safai'i operations.

Indigenously developed MRI machines, low-cost paper strips for detecting bacteria in water, computerized systems for performance monitoring of local judiciary piloted in Gujranwala are just a few examples of the exciting projects going on at SSE.

I am also delighted to report to you that the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship has facilitated a LUMS startup, Groopic, close a six figure early stage round of funding yesterday setting us well on our way towards realizing our dream of creating, in this part of the world, the largest entrepreneurial eco-system around LUMS.

What other university in Pakistan --- and I dare say the world --- enables, facilitates and rewards such complete transformation of a faculty members' scientific career or a students' disciplinary interests to take on the challenges of the real world, irrespective of past training and the risks of potential failure. The “no-boundaries” approach at LUMS means that today we get to confer a PhD on a scholar working on Evolutionary Algorithms based on non-Darwinian Theories of Evolution, jointly supervised by a Professor of Religious Studies and a Professor specialising in Artificial Intelligence!All this is happening because our faculty and students are amongst the best of the best and the university believes in them.

But education at LUMS is not only defined by academic courses and research. LUMS Model UN or LUMUN as it is popularly known, SPADES(Science Society), SLUMS, LUMS daily Student, LUMS Entrepreneurial Society, Community Service Society, FILUMS, Debating Society all provide forums of interaction for school students to showcase their talent, interact with peers and for a few days surround themselves with the spirit of LUMS. This is indeed a special place. We celebrate the class of2014, which, similar to their predecessor, have yet again pushed the envelope that the tries to define the spirit of LUMS.

Each activity, whether curricular or co-curricular is guided by the extraordinarily talented faculty of LUMS.

May I now request all faculty members of LUMS to rise and acknowledge our deep appreciation for the ground breaking work they are undertaking at LUMS. And for making this day possible for the Class of 2014.

What makes this institution truly special, however, is that, since its inception, it has made all of this possible regardless of ability to pay of the students. If you can gain admission into LUMS, then there is a long-standing, unalterable commitment, that you will be educated at LUMS. And we do not stop there. The National Outreach Program is committed to searching for the best and the brightest, across this great country; giving them hope, nurturing their talent, helping them believe in themselves to meet the merit criteria of LUMS. Once admitted, all expenses of the students including tuition, room and board, books, etc. are provided for so that they may receive the finest education, that is their right.

All of this has been possible because of the support LUMS has received from individual and corporate supporters, philanthropists, foundations, friends and Alumni. LUMS is a not-for-profit institution which can only operate through the generosity of those who share our vision that the best education is the right of the best and the brightest in this country, and not the privilege of the few. Much has been accomplished but much more remains to be done. Our quest for excellence knows no bounds and we look to you, the graduates for future support.

Do remember (No pressure, OK) that you stand on the shoulders of giants, and much is expected of you, the graduates of two thousand and fourteen.

Thank you.