AURAK President Meets Faculty for Annual Gathering
February 26, 2020,
Professor Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim, President of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK), held his annual meeting with faculty in which he outlined what the university has accomplished in the last year, looked forward to the future, answered the teaching staff’s questions, and heard their suggestions.
He praised faculty’s hard work in bringing AURAK this far. “There is no university that I’m aware of that has managed to achieve in such a short period what AURAK has achieved. And I’m sure that would not have been possible without your hard work, without your support, without your loyalty, and sense of belonging to this institution. I’m sure everyone is proud of what we have achieved,” Prof. Hassan told the meeting. “There is no good university without good faculty.”
He summarized the benefits of SACSCOC accreditation, said it would benefit the CVs of those involved in achieving it, and that it made cooperation with other universities easier. “It has enhanced our position within the country,” Prof. Hassan said. “I think it has helped us be number 10 this year [in the rankings of UAE universities],” he said and mentioned what AURAK needed to do to increase its ranking further.
He said the UAE Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) had approached the university, because AURAK is among the best in the country, to have some faculty serve as assessors and reviewers.
He said that more than 60% of AURAK graduates find jobs within six months of finishing their studies. “That’s another good sign. If we send to the market high-caliber, qualified, well-educated graduates, I’m sure in 10 years’ time from now your graduates will be hunted. If we keep the same pace and if we keep the same momentum,” Prof. Hassan said.
He commended the Provost and committees for hiring the best faculty. “We intend to keep that,” the President said. “If you have good faculty, you’ll have a good school.”
Prof. Hassan said he wanted to see progress in the programs that haven’t started yet and international accreditation.
The President said he wanted to see faculty play a greater role in getting funds for their research. He said that sound proposals could get grants. “If there is no research, there is no university,” he said. “We want to keep the momentum. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved – the research, the grants that we’ve got,” he said.
He said he wanted faculty to be more engaged in decision making and also in campus life.
In his address, Prof. Wilhite said that being a “student-centered university” is at the heart of the new Strategic Plan and that faculty were key to achieving this. “As part of the student-centered initiative, we have to provide support for the underprepared students. A fundamental part of the Quality Enhancement Plan that is being developed is focus on improving the performance of students on quantitative reasoning and communication, both written and spoken, because those skills are fundamental to everything else they are doing,” he said. The Provost said the increased resources to support students would only have an impact if faculty were involved monitoring student performance and referring students for services.
He mentioned adjustments to the academic progress policy that would mean monitoring students after two semesters of study to try to determine whether they are in the right major or program. He said there are often other options for students who are on the wrong course.
“No matter how many publications you have by the time you retire, an equally important part of your legacy as a faculty member will be the kind of impact you have had on students. Because when students identify ‘I am an alum of AURAK’, they are almost always, when pressed on that, going to talk about formative experiences they had with one of you,” Prof. Wilhite said.
In the question and answer session that followed the speeches by the President and the Provost, a range of issues were raised including the utilization of classroom capacity, course fees and scholarships, new programs, applying for grants and the importance of collaboration outside AURAK.