Orientation Speech 2016

Welcome HU Class of 2020, Welcome!

It’s always an exhilarating feeling for me to be here. In this conversation there are a few things I want to cover. I want to start by talking about how lucky and special you are, then a bit about Habib University and lastly with what we expect from you in your time here.

I don’t know if many of you know this but Pakistan is ranked in one of the lowest countries in the world in the competitiveness of our Higher Education System (127 out of 144). Also, less than 1% of the youth in our country have access to Higher Education. You’re one of them. So who do you have to thank? The people around you. On behalf of the HU community, I take the liberty to thank the parents, guardians, inspirations, rishtaydaar: Whoever has enabled these young men and women here today. It is indeed a very unique privilege.

The Class of 2020 are our largest class so far, are double of our first class. We have 46% males and 54% females, representative of all areas of Pakistan including Karachi, Hyderabad, Badin, Turbat, Rawalpindi and even Chitral. We also have international students especially from Saudi Arabia and the UAE. All of you have displayed exceptional merit: we are honored to give admission to the first position holder across Pakistan for the AKU Education Board. We also have a diverse mix of aspirations: we have students who want to do philanthropy, who are brilliant at debates, who want to explore their artistic side, enhance their athletic side and so much more.

All programs at Habib University teach exactly these things and more. By the time you graduate, the engineers here will know a lot about philosophy and the humanities students a lot about calculus! It can’t be done any other way anymore. The era of narrow, utilitarian, impoverished education is gone. All students at Habib University experience the Habib Liberal Core, which is comparable to the liberal core at top universities in the world. What’s beautiful about our liberal core is that it is embedded into our local context and background.

Perhaps our most precious asset is our faculty. Currently our Student: Faculty ratio is 8:1 which will only grow to 12:1 at a steady state. This is important because our curriculum requires constant engagement with world class scholars. We have been lucky to get faculty on board from all over the world who are fully committed to our liberal arts and sciences mission.

Habib University has come into being as a result of the largest donation ever given in Pakistan towards a Higher Education institution. But that was just the start: What is in perpetuity is our Needs Blind Admissions Policy. If you’re good enough to get in: we’ll figure out a way for you to pay for it. We’re also welcoming our first cohort of HU TOPS scholars this year. These students, from our local board of education, have been chosen as part of our fully funded TOPS program at Habib University: the only criteria was that they had to be top students! In fact, an astounding 94% of our entire student body are on some form of financial assistance.

I can’t do justice to how wonderful this campus is, and I’m sure all of you agree with me. It is indicative of our academic program with courtyards and break out spaces, classes that can be flipped around to suit lectures, seminars or group discussions, informal and formal social spaces, dedicated student spaces, sports courts and not to forget our newest addition: The Swimming pool.

Nobody does it better than us when it comes to global engagement. Last year at the orientation I put up a picture of the Stanford logo as something to look forward to. Here’s a picture of eight of our students actually standing at Stanford University. In the last year we have entered into partnerships with Stanford University, University of Michigan and the Claremont Consortium of Colleges. These universities don’t open their doors to everyone but they did to us: this is a great acknowledgment of what we’re all about. Apart from student exchange, these universities are also very keen on inviting our faculty over and sending theirs to Habib: endless opportunities for engagement lie ahead.

Habib University was the first in Pakistan to establish a department of ‘Student Life’ with a dedicated student center. We are greatly invested in creating a robust culture of Student Life on campus. We assure you get assistance every step of the way when it comes to your academics as well. Apart from the faculty who will continue to act as your mentors and informal sounding boards, the EHSAS Center and Writing Center provide a range of support services and are open beyond school hours.

Everything I have shared so far is all standing on the foundation of our mission: Yohsin. Like every great university we have a mission to work towards, however, ours is very much emanating from a context that is meaningful to us. Yohsin: Every beings worth is in their thoughtful self-cultivation. This can largely be defined across the five paradigms of service, passion, respect, beauty and excellence.

However, what makes Habib University what it is today is not the academic, the faculty, the international network, the campus or any of these other things that I have mentioned. It’s YOU. You are the reason we have set this beautiful stage. Our cofounders, the first cohort, came in to an incomplete campus in a completely unknown university. They are fantastic and courageous and have as much to do with the university as any of us do in the administration. So thank you cofounders. Then came the pioneers, our second cohort. Their passion, work ethic and engagement with the curriculum have made them a fantastic new addition to the community. Now it’s you. I haven’t put your title there yet but you have to earn it. You have to prove that you’re worthy of being part of Yohsin.