RIYADH: The premier Alfaisal University will hold its first graduation ceremony on Sunday when a group of 90 students graduate with MBAs, engineering and bachelor's degrees.
“The event on Sunday is a milestone for the university. It's the culmination of a great dream that's about to come true. It will be a red-letter day for these graduating students,” said Faisal Abdulaziz Al-Mubarak, vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer, during a press conference on Wednesday.
Of the 90 students, 50 will receive their degrees in MBA, 28 in business and 12 in engineering.
Al-Mubarak said that in the mind's eye, he could see the late King Faisal “smiling from ear to ear as the students receive their diplomas from the university.”
He said the establishment of the university was a cherished dream of the late King Faisal “who believed that the education of the youth should rest on three fundamentals which include faith, knowledge and performance.”
“It was a vision of the king who left a legacy of espousing a progressive knowledge. Believing in the merits of science, King Faisal's reign witnessed an explosive expansion of education,” Al-Mubarak said.
Alfaisal University, which was launched in 2003 by the King Faisal Foundation, is student-centered, disseminating knowledge through world-class education programs and research and services that benefit the Kingdom.
“Alfaisal University is a socially aware institution that respects the dramatically changing needs of contemporary students,” Al-Mubarak said. He added that the university is entirely committed to ensuring that students have the opportunity to succeed in their academic, co-curricular, extra-curricular, social, moral and civic endeavors.
Al-Mubarak added that using up-to-date technology and equipment, and through tutoring and cutting-edge research, Alfaisal's colleges of engineering, business, medicine and science and general studies work in close collaboration with each other.
“These colleges also work with local traders and industry, government and other leading institutions to address some of the region's most exciting opportunities and important challenges,” he said.
Ahmad Sulaiman bin Obaid Al-Obaid, economics professor and vice president of advancement, finance and administration, added that in imbuing the youth with knowledge and skills, the university has recruited the services of world-class scholars and researchers to lead its colleges and drive innovation in the Kingdom in particular and in the region in general.
The university has 78 faculty members and is expected to hire 24 more next year to beef up its teaching staff. Its faculty, which includes a number of Saudi professors, consists of different nationalities to ensure student experiences have an international flavor.
“It has also forged important academic and research alliances with the world's top leaders to carry out its task of disseminating knowledge and skills among the students so that they are as good as they could be,” he said.
By the time they step out of Alfaisal University, he said, they are expected to be ready to “seek their place under the sun.”
“They'd be ready to join the work force in or outside the Kingdom as a result of the intensive years of education under their mentors who are of various nationalities and known in their respective fields,” he said.
He added Alfaisal University is totally committed to ensuring students have the opportunity to succeed in life. “All members of the university assist students in achieving their individual academic and personal goals in accordance with the university's mission statement."
One of Alfaisal University's MBA graduates was honored at the 2012 Global Competitiveness Forum as the first-prize winner in the 100 fastest growing new Saudi companies category. Abdullah Al-Zamil established his company, S-me (www.s-me.com) in 2009. It is a mobile social network service using SMS.
His company has also been selected as the winner of the Top 50 SME Awards by the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) in 2011. S-me was the only GCC company honored in the competition.
“All of these were achieved while Abdullah Al-Zamil was studying at Alfaisal University,” a statement issued by the university said. Al-Zamil said he gained a lot of knowledge and skills from Alfaisal University's MBA program.
Khaled Al-Kattan of the College of Medicine said that the fact that Alfaisal University produces good graduates means that it has good students.
Sofia Ikram, university spokesperson, added that the university's faculty staff continuously engage and challenge their students academically by teaching them leadership and the value of quality and social responsibility and by inculcating in them a commitment to work.
“As a result, our students have been engaged in many exciting and diverse activities through which they have made some remarkable achievements during this academic year,” she said.
Asked about his opinion about Alfaisal University's students, American professor Norman K. Swazo, acting dean and professor of philosophy and biomedical ethics at the College of Science and General Studies, said he found the experience of teaching them self-fulfilling.
“It has been my pleasure to engage many of the students since my arrival in the fall of 2008. And now that they are about to graduate, I am very happy indeed. I hope that what they have learned at the university will help them as they seek their place under the sun. I am hoping for a great future ahead of them,” he said.
Abdulmajeed Mohamad, professor of engineering, praised his former students. “They had been very nice, enthusiastic and eager to learn.” He also praised the high caliber of the faculty.
“Like any other teacher, I feel self-fulfillment as my former students graduate. I will feel pride welling up in my heart as they walk up the stage to receive their diplomas,” said Mohamad, who is a Canadian.
The students also expressed enthusiasm over the fact that they are about to graduate. Zoha Al-Snadi, who will receive her MBA degree and who works as a deputy manager at the ladies' branch of the Dale Carnegie Training Center, said that studying for a graduate degree at Alfaisal University had made her a better person and student.
“Working for a graduate degree has expanded my knowledge. I was taught to conduct research, my knowledge greatly expanded and developed my mind to be critical,” she said.
Reham Al-Onaizan, a research officer at the university, said that her graduation on Sunday “makes my dream come true.”
“My graduate studies gave me the essential knowledge to be better in my job. With my MBA, I will also have better job opportunities,” she said. Her Master’s thesis was entitled “Assessing the Effectiveness of Acquired MBA Knowledge for Women in a Cross Functional Organization.”