I would like to wish everybody at AIMST University a happy and successful New Year in 2008.
The last year has been very exciting at the University and has been marked by solid progress on many fronts. In the year, the foundations of the ultimate shape of the university were set in place and these will determine the future successes of AIMST.
The most obvious event has been our move from the old campus at Amanjaya to Semeling. I was only at Amanjaya for a short time but nevertheless, I was sorry to leave what was a happy and rather gracious working environment to go off into the unknown. As I write, only the School of Dentistry has yet to move and I hope that we can all be together again in the early part of 2008. In spite of all the plans made before the move, inevitably it exposed problems-some big, many little-and I would like to thank everybody who worked so hard in the transitional period to overcome these difficulties. I know that many of you worked long and irregular hours to get the University back on its feet and I am very grateful for those sacrifices. Without that work, we would still be in difficulties.
During the year, our first graduates were produced and all of the external examiners were complimentary about our students and the academic standards. To all those leaving the University, I want to wish you well as you start out on your careers but I urge you not to forget your time or friends at AIMST. You are now ambassadors for the University and we hope by word and deed that you will continue to support us.
We had three successful visits from the national academic accreditation agency – now called the Malaysian Qualifications Agency- in 2007. The education programs in Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry were assessed and all came out well. Again, many people worked tirelessly for many days and nights to prepare for these visits and these efforts have been well rewarded. Thank you to all involved.
Our move to Semeling has also engendered a closer community within the University. This has been helped by many students and most of the academic faculty living on the campus. The sports centre is usually fully occupied and I see spontaneous games of cricket and football occurring in the evenings. The students have organized evenings of entertainment and music mainly on the campus but sometimes outside and these have been well attended. I have enjoyed attending most of these events but have usually left when the head banging index increased towards the end of the evening. I understand that the national government wishes to see Malaysians unite across the ethnic divide –this is already occurring successfully in this University. Semeling has become a model multiracial, equal opportunity, mini-society.
In November we had a superb concert of Indian classical music by Dr L Subramanian, an international virtuoso of the violin. This was the first time our Great Hall had been used and a large audience came from the University and from outside. After the concert, many of the audience lingered in the flood lit campus for a while and the atmosphere was magical. I hope that we shall be able to arrange many similar events in the future.
2008 will also be a year of progress and change. We are planning our first Convocation Ceremony to award degrees in the first part of the year. The Dental Hospital will open and then the University will not only be educating dentists but also giving a service to the community around us. The university will open an Advanced Molecular Biology Laboratory and this will provide research facilities for all the faculties and departments at Semeling. This will be a significant first step towards our ambition to be regarded as a first rate research university and will be followed by other major innovations to maintain our momentum in scientific investigation.
We hope that we will be given permission to expand our student numbers in 2008 and start up some new and exciting new courses. So you can look forward to seeing more students and faculty around the Semeling campus during the year. By the year end, we hope to have about 2300 students on site together with increased staff numbers.
The projected increase in the size of the university will need to be accompanied by a reassessment of our organization and its structure to make sure that we are running the university in the best way possible. Early in the New Year, we will be starting an exercise to make a full managerial and administrative review with a view to repositioning our university culture. All of the present academic and non-academic support staff will be involved in this process and will be kept informed at every stage.
I will finish this message by saying how grateful I am for the support you have shown me in my first few months at the University. There have been many surprises during my time and nearly all of them have been pleasant. To each one of you involved, thank you for making me feel so welcome. Geoffrey H Smith 1 January 2008.
Geoffrey H Smith
1 January 2008