King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) awarded 243 master’s degree and Ph.D. candidates with their diplomas during its ninth commencement ceremony on the KAUST campus on Friday.
The ceremony was presided over by members of the KAUST Board of Trustees, including Board Chairman Khalid A. Al-Falih, minister of energy, industry and mineral resources and chairman of Saudi Aramco, and attended by senior KAUST leadership and faculty members.
Commencement 2018 highlights included the official inauguration of KAUST’s third president, Dr. Tony Chan, and conferral of the university’s first honorary doctoral degree to Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, former chairman of the KAUST board of trustees, former minister of petroleum and mineral resources and commencement 2018 speaker. The event also included remarks by 2018 student speaker and KAUST Ph.D. graduate Nada Aljassim, the first KAUST Gifted Student Program participant to receive her Ph.D. from the university.
In his chairman’s address, Al-Falih said the event was “an occasion … to mark a number of milestones and celebrations … In the past year alone, KAUST has … achieved important advances in research, education, innovation and talent, all while making an impact … in Saudi Arabia and globally.”
“KAUST has taken its place on the world’s scientific and academic landscape,” Al-Naimi said. “Ideas and innovations (from KAUST) … make a difference when they soar above our nation and around the world.”
“As a university, we are looking forward to our next decade,” said President Chan, a member of the university’s Board of Trustees for seven years. “In my new position, I am really looking forward to the opportunity and challenge and becoming engaged with Saudi society in general.”
President Chan noted one aim of his presidency is “to align KAUST’s mission with the Kingdom’s priorities — and in particular Vision 2030. The Kingdom is moving to diversifying the economy and toward innovation and technology, which align with KAUST.”
Chan said: “We have formed a NEOM Center of Excellence at KAUST with the express purpose of working together with NEOM. One of our senior faculty members, Professor Carlos Duarte, is on the advisory board for the Red Sea Project. We have a KAUST Red Sea Research Center and we are located next to the Red Sea, which is a treasure for the Kingdom. We consider it one of our missions to support the projects going on in the Kingdom.”
“KAUST is still very young, but we see ourselves as contributing to the innovation and economic development of the country and the development of human talent,” he added.