When you see internally displaced persons settling down to make Yola their home and setting up businesses, what comes to mind is hope!
This is part of what inspired new President Dawn Dekle, who most recently served as president of Orkhon University in Mongolia, to come to AUN.
President Dekle sees a brighter future for the Northeast region of Nigeria. At her second presentation to the AUN community, held on July 24, she told her audience that her desire to come to Nigeria was borne out of a desire to contribute educationally to this region.
In her talk, she shared her favorite quotes on “hope” with the audience. She explained that there is certainly more hope for this region now that the threats of insurgency of a few years ago have diminished. Having been here for a month, she has observed a bubbling town. “I think Jimeta and Yola are going through a little economic renaissance… When I was in the South during my recruitment trip two weeks ago, I was telling people: if you are not investing in this part of the country you are missing out, because it is happening.”
The President reiterated that at AUN we are doing the right thing for the country, and that she shares passionately the dreams of the Founder. “We are trying to embrace the Founder’s desire to create entrepreneurs and create jobs.”
Not only is Dr Dekle motivated by the desire to contribute to educating business professionals, but by the broader development mission of the University. “He [the Founder] wanted the graduates to give back to the country. And that’s what we are here to do.”
At the town hall meeting, Dr Dekle shared her career journey before coming to Nigeria, and a little about herself. Even as Dean at the S P Jain School of Global Management in Singapore, she aspired to one day be a provost and or president. The opportunity came when she was appointed provost at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF).
Dr. Dekle left Afghanistan in 2013 on being offered the opportunity to be president of the American University of Iraq. She would become the first female university president in Iraq’s history. From her presentation, one could see that AUN in many ways resembles AU in Iraq. Former high officials of their respective countries founded both universities in their states of origin, and both universities have a mission to help develop their communities. “We were trying to be an institute of public benefit.”
Dr. Dekle spoke of AUN’s on-going plans for a partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria to educate the recently released young women from Chibok who were kidnapped three years ago. We hope to ensure that they get a quality education. “I think this is our chance to be part of the solution going forward… To be a part of this is incredibly exciting for me. This is part of why I do what I do.”
Reflecting on female education and creating a conducive learning experience, she spoke of her effort to substantially increase female enrollment while provost of AUAF. In her first few weeks of being in Afghanistan, she took the initiative to have both male and female students sit together in an Afghanistan history class--a class she herself sat in on in order to learn more about the country. “It made me so happy seeing them work together because when they graduate they are going to work together in companies…. We are supposed to be integrated…So the classes became truly integrated.”
Dekle is no longer a stranger to Yola and since July 1 has become a member of AUN. What she expects of the AUN learning community and her leadership style will form the crux of her next presentation on Friday, August 11.
By Omorogbe Omorogiuwa