Some 227 students from the schools of Business Administration & Economics and Arts and Sciences (Humanities, Sciences, and Social and Behavioral Sciences) received their undergraduate and graduate degrees, on the evening of July 3rd, 2015, at Club La Marina, Dbayeh, during the 55th commencement exercises, which also marked Haigazian University’s 60th Anniversary.
The seashore courtyard was packed with officials, family and friends gathered to applaud the graduating students, amidst an atmosphere of cheer, sometimes mixed with moments of high emotion.
MP Hagop Pakradouni was there to represent the Speaker of the Parliament, H.E. Mr. Nabih Berry, whereas the President of the Council of Ministers, H.E. Mr. Tammam Salam was represented by the Minister of Education and Higher Education, Mr. Elias Bou Saab. Among the attendees were Minister of Energy Arthur Nazarian, MPs Jean Oghasabian, Bassem Shabb, Shant Chinchinian representing the head of the Lebanese Forces Dr. Samir Geagea, in addition to the Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Bishop Shahe Panossian. The following personalities had sent their representatives: General Michel Aoun, the Commander of the Army, the Head of the General Security Forces, and the Armenian Ambassador.
The ceremony opened by the formal processional march of Haigazian faculty in academic regalia, led by Chief Marshall Dr. Nadim Hassoun, followed by the Lebanese National Anthem and the prayer of invocation offered by Campus Minister, Rev. Wilbert Van Saane.
University President, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian welcomed students and their families and the distinguished guests, and addressed the class of 2015, inviting them to be the change makers of the future, overcoming the shortcomings of our countries.
“If you are given the choice of more money or more productivity, choose the second. If you get to the top, still look up. If you fast from food, focus also on the fasting of the heart. If you wantto protect the cause of your religious or political group, show the highest of ethical standards”, Haidostian told graduates.
He went further inviting them to be inspired by the Phoenicians, saying “our 60th anniversary commencement is taking place on the shores of the Mediterranean. Be inspired by the creativity of the Phoenicians. Build boats that do good, but do not invade. Ride the boats to meet people and exchange experiences, not to promote your status. Develop your skills to grow and help others live better”.
He concluded by making a reference to the 60th Anniversary motto “Pride in Merit”, and said, “your pride should be based on hard-work, ethics, and vision, and not connections, majority pressure, religious, social or family privileges as we see in our societies.”
In his inspiring speech, keynote speaker, the Secretary of the UN Committee against Torture, based in Geneva, Patrice Gillibert, focused on two key concepts: Education and Freedom. Sharing a quotation from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms”, Gillibert underlined that all fundamental values of respect, equality, justice and freedom are in the core mission and vision of Haigazian University. On “freedom”, Gillibert quoted Charles Malik, the first Lebanese Ambassador to the United Nations and the United States of America, saying “If we have any contribution to make, it is in the field of fundamental freedom, namely freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of being. And there is one point on which we wish to insist more than anything else, namely that it is not enough to be, it is not enough to be free to be what you are. You must also be free to become what your conscience requires you to become in light of your best knowledge. It is therefore freedom of becoming, of change that we stress as much as freedom of being”. He concluded by acknowledging the role of Haigazian University in leadership and contribution to human rights, wishing the fresh graduates to shine and inspire the humanity.
Next to speak was the Chairman of the Lebanese Banking Control Commission, 1978 graduate Samir Hammoud, who in the name of Haigazian alumni saluted the graduates, and proudly acknowledged, “all the success I have made is attributed to Haigazian University”. Hammoud encouraged students to travel and discover the world, but never to emigrate, in addition to work towards giving a meaning and purpose to their life.
Minister of Education and Higher Education, Elias Bou Saab congratulated the graduates, praising the role Haigazian has played since its early beginnings, 60 years ago. He acknowledged its high academic standards, the seriousness of its program, in addition to its successful graduates. Bou Saab also pointed out on the motto of the University, “truth, freedom, and service”, giving live examples and considering it as universal values for humanity.
The three guests were bestowed Haigazian University’s 60th Anniversary Medal, proudly presented by President Haidostian.
It is worth noting that on this special occasion, congratulatory notes were sent by both Ministers of Education and of Diaspora of Armenia.
With a sense of accomplishment, valedictorian Arpa Aintablian looked at this commencement day as “a journey to prosper, persevere and to thrive”. She considered herself and her fellow graduates the “true embodiment of Haigazian University’s Pride in Merit” (the motto of the 60th Anniversary), whereas for her part, valedictorian Sarah Hatoum, being a University Scholarship Program scholar, expressed her gratitude to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the sponsors of the program, appreciating the multi-culturism and co-existence at Haigazian University, as a reflection of the real Lebanese society.
Finally, after singing the Alma Mater, and upon the benediction offered by Rev. Megerdich Karageozian, President of the Union of Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East, graduates threw their caps high into the air, erupting in loud cheers and shouting.