Freshmen Orientation To Facilitate the Transition of New Students into the Academic, Social, Extracurricular, Cultural, and Career Dimensions of the AUD Educational Experience
The American University in Dubai (AUD) welcomed its new students for Fall 2016 during orientation which kicked off on Saturday allowing new students to start their academic journey over a full day of fun activities. During orientation, AUD President, Dr. Lance de Masi and Provost Dr. Jihad Nader, and the Student Services’ Team addressed the students.
The day kicked off with the orientation fair, where new students accompanied by their parents registered, received their welcome packs and met various AUD administrative offices and academic units and learnt more about the numerous activities taking place on campus.
This was followed by the official convocation, where Dr. Robin Anke, Dean of Student Services at AUD, explained the significance of the Student Services Office in providing guidance and support for students as they explore, understand, and adjust to university life. She explained “Orientation is such a valuable program for our students and their parents. It marks the beginning of their journey with AUD. Our goal is to provide the parents and students with a comprehensive view of life at AUD, and by attending orientation they have already taken the first step toward achieving success.”
Dr. Lance de Masi welcomed the new students, telling them that they had now begun their university journey. He went on to explain the significance of choosing AUD as their university, “We’re in Dubai. What a great calling card; We enjoy the support of H.H. Sheikh. Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. I can’t think of anyone whom I would rather have as a benefactor; the university is accredited in the U.S. and was the first institution of higher learning in the UAE to obtain American accreditation – that’s an honor and makes us a university with international recognition; the university is licensed and all its programs are accredited by the UAE Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research – that makes us a good local citizen and relevant to our immediate surroundings; and AUD has a glamorous graduation ceremony appearing on TV and broadcast around the world – every graduate gets what I call a “real moment in the sun.”
He continued about the educational experience provided at AUD, “we emphasize the success of our graduates. This is never to be taken for granted. Different universities measure their success in different ways. At AUD, learning, whether by professors or students, has as its primary objective the furtherance of student success…in a career and in life; we challenge and develop our students’ imagination, creativity and communication skills – the emphasis at AUD is not on memorization, but rather on using and expressing knowledge. We teach students how to think and learn; if upon graduating they do not emerge as problem-solvers with noticeably good communications skills, then we have failed to prepare them for success in the global economy; we take professional expectations and standards into account in deciding what to teach. We listen to engineers, business people, architects, designers and specialists in technology. We ensure that the student’s acquisition of practical skill, as required by employers, is a key outcome of our curricula. Several AUD faculty members are or have been practicing professionals. AUD’s reputation is best among those who employ our graduates; and it’s not by chance that AUD’s job placement rate is very high; we put as much emphasis on character development as on intellectual growth – time and again, great leaders explain leadership more in terms of character than knowledge, and that’s why AUD goes beyond the classroom to complete the educational experience. Extra-curricular activities and sports are a part of this strategy. So, too, is student interface with faculty and staff outside the classroom setting. We try to give any experience at AUD an educational value. Whether with straight “A’s” or something less, it’s the “whole person” – mind and heart – that faces the challenge of success in a complex society; and that’s why we encourage students to work on their development as human beings; and AUD distinguishes itself through academic excellence. In fifty years’ time, this university will not be judged by its size or the beauty of its campus and facilities. AUD graduates will either be known for their success or they won’t be. Standards, therefore, mean everything to us; and keeping them high guarantees the value of our degrees. Our faculty and staff in retention and success staff work with students to help them maintain the required standards, but repeated non-performance at AUD is cause for either temporary or permanent dismissal from the university.”
Finally, in closing, Dr. de Masi congratulated the new students for having satisfied AUD’s admissions requirements and offered a few words of advice: “Do your best; Make every day count; Listen; Be open to change; Learn to depend on yourself and to accept responsibility; Seek to stand out; Respect and learn from people who are very different from you; Stay honest; Inform yourself about the world around you; Stay or get serious, but don’t be afraid to laugh; Be humble; Most importantly, dream.”
Dr. Jihad Nader, Provost of AUD explained that the university embraced liberal education as the context within which it provides students with a 360-degree whole-person education.
Several factors explain this choice: a liberal education teaches students how to think and learn rather than what to think and learn, and it produces graduates who are better able to adapt and respond to the demands of a fast-changing economic and social environment. In addition to developing students into ethical and socially responsible citizens of the world, the liberal education also results in tangible benefits in the form of higher incomes and other material rewards. By espousing this liberal education philosophy and applying it in all academic programs, AUD enables students to become independent thinkers who are tolerant and open-minded by the time they graduate. The liberally educated AUD graduate is not only able to form an opinion but can also express and defend this opinion.
Dr. Nader emphasized that the AUD graduate is also creative and able to find innovative solutions to a variety of problems. Moreover, as Dubai is a cosmopolitan city, AUD students’ liberal education enables them to understand and appreciate other cultures, beliefs, and points of views and remain lifelong learners.
AUD distinguishes itself with a unique student orientation program planned and orchestrated by AUD Student Orientation Leaders (OLs) and the Student Government association (SGA). During orientation, OLs acquaint new students with the campus environment and the city of Dubai, clarify policies and procedures; explain AUD’s Honor Code, and conduct a variety of activities to introduce the students to the university experience.
New students visit their respective schools, and departmental meetings are also held, where students are given the opportunity to hear from the respective Deans and Chairs.