AURAK President Holds Annual Meeting, Q&A with Students
February 25, 2020,
Professor Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim, President of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK), held his annual meeting with students, outlining the progress the university has made over the last year and answering their questions.
Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Success and Provost, Professor Stephen Wilhite, also took part in the session.
The President started by outlining AURAK’s recent achievements especially its accreditation by the US body SACSCOC. He called this a “great achievement” and a “seal of quality” and said the body is “very rigorous” in its accreditation work. “You should be proud that you belong to an institution accredited by SACSCOC.”
“Since we’ve been accredited, it has opened the way for us to do collaborative agreements with many universities in the United States,” Prof. Hassan added. He urged students to take advantage of the opportunities to study in the US that these deals offer.
“We’re launching new programs,” Prof Hassan said, mentioning Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, Interior Design, Infrastructure Engineering, and Renewable Energy. Other programs in Education, Forensic Science, Tourism and Business Analytics are in the pipeline, he said.
He said a three-story library was under construction, that the School of Arts and Science was coming up and that a mosque would be built in the area of the dormitories. “We are trying to grow a university district,” Prof. Hassan said. “We are trying to provide all that you might need,” he said, listing the restaurants, pharmacy and coffee shops, among other things, that have either opened already or will open soon.
He also mentioned the long program of activities that Dr. Denise Gifford introduced this year. “We want to make you happy while you are on campus, to feel attached to the university, to feel loyalty to the institution and be part of the family.”
In his address, the Provost said the five-year strategic plan that runs until 2024 has a great emphasis on AURAK becoming a “student-centered university”. He said AURAK needed student input on activities and outings and they should share their ideas. Prof. Wilhite said the university was trying to increase student-faculty interaction.
He also invited students to use the opportunity at the end of every course in each semester to give feedback on faculty on their performance, that this information was useful for evaluation and that it would help make them more effective in the classroom.
Prof. Wilhite said that there was an initiative on academic rigor, and that the grading scale had been altered to make it more difficult to get A grades and high Bs. He said that the value of a degree from AURAK depends on it having demanding academic standards.
He added that AURAK was keen to encourage students to use the opportunities to study outside the United Arab Emirates such as the 3+2 arrangements and other exchanges at a range of US institutions as well as short-term opportunities in the summer in Europe.
In the question and answer session that followed the speeches, Prof. Hassan and Prof. Wilhite addressed the students’ concerns regarding grading, dormitories, finding jobs following graduation, internships, equipment and anti-bullying policy.