Kampala, 26 February 2015 — In a world that is more connected and complex than ever before, the Aga Khan University is educating leaders who will be able to face the challenges of tomorrow, said Firoz Rasul. The AKU President was addressing the university’s 2015 convocation in Kampala, which was held in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam.

The President of the Aga Khan University was addressing the university’s 2015 convocation in Kampala today, which was held in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, the Chancellor of AKU.

Citing the 2008 financial crisis and the recent outbreak and spread of Ebola in West Africa as examples of “global interconnection enabling events to race ahead of our capacity to understand or respond to them,” President Rasul said that the temptation to think in simple terms of containment and isolation must be resisted. The challenges of an interconnected world call for leaders who can work together to harness “good ideas, new perspectives and innovations.”

The Kampala convocation is the second of three gatherings that mark 15 years of the Aga Khan University’s presence in East Africa. Attending the event with the graduands and their families were a number of distinguished leaders, including the Speaker of the Uganda Parliament, Rt Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga; AKU Trustees, including Princess Zahra and Yusuf Keshavjee; as well as faculty, staff, donors and diplomats.

Being part of the knowledge society of the 21st century requires “embracing the values of collaboration and coordination, openness and partnership, choice and diversity,” said President Rasul, quoting words spoken by Mawlana Hazar Imam at the university’s 2006 convocation in Karachi. That concept of collaboration — working across disciplines, differences and frontiers that might once have been seen as barriers — will shape the Aga Khan University of the next 15 years, especially in East Africa.

“From the start over thirty years ago, this University’s founding blueprint envisioned a multi-campus, multi-continental university,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam in his Kampala address. “That vision,” he said, “is now coming true.”

“Here in Uganda, we will focus on achieving international levels of health care - especially for non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes,” said Hazar Imam. “We plan to establish a new Aga Khan University Hospital in Kampala, as well as several medical centres in the other places across the country.”

Additional AKU campuses and facilities are planned for Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Nairobi housing programmes in the liberal arts, sciences, education, health, business, public policy, and various professions.

“They will be sites of collaboration and cross-pollination” explained President Rasul. “We want to create an environment in which conversations between biologists and sociologists, ecologists and philosophers, economists and anthropologists open up new perspectives on our world.”

Aga Khan University graduates are equipped to be leaders, said President Rasul, “and the hallmark of a leader is the understanding that real change happens when like-minded individuals are united in pursuit of the same goal.” He urged them to look to one another for support as they work to address the challenges that they will face in the years ahead.

“You are part of a remarkable community — the community of AKU,” he said. “Your journey, your classmates’ journeys and your University’s journey are linked.”

“If we all act on the basis of that understanding, I believe our shared future will be very bright indeed.”