By Professor Tasos Christofides, Rector of the University of Cyprus
When a year ends, we tend to reflect on what we have achieved, what opportunities we have missed, what we could have done better. For a university, the measure of success is not just numbers of students admitted, alumni, funding secured, awardees and distinctions in research, for a university success is an amalgama composition of factors:
- It is not just teaching for teaching, rather than nurturing those skills that will prepare our students for the multiple challenges they will encounter as members of a constantly changing society.
- It is not just research for research, but research for preparing the grounds for new technologies, for innovation and capacity-building for the societies and the communities we operate in, and with. It is research that constantly makes us question the role of humanity in a world continuously evolving.
- It is not just internationalization for creating an outward looking profile, but a meaningful process of connecting with our partners and creating synergies that will improve our ways of operation and more importantly bring us closer for benefiting our community and our society.
For a university, but also for the broader society success goes beyond traditional metrics. What makes a university truly successful is its vibrant community, the will of its people to create, to connect, to cooperate with each other. A truly successful organization recognizes that its achievements are a result of a collective effort.
Reflecting on this year’s accomplishments, the first thing that comes to my mind are the exemplary people of the University of Cyprus, bright people that are a source of inspiration, for me personally, for our community, for our society.
This year I had the great honor of awarding the bachelor’s degree to Zaharias Mazlum Aksu. Zaharias, a political refugee arrived in Cyprus at the age of 7 with his parents and four siblings to save his life. Having to endure many difficulties he was admitted to the University through the Pancyprian examinations to study in the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies. Despite all obstacles he had to overcome in his life, Zaharias never gave up, he is full of hope, full of light and dreams and I truly wish that his persistence and perseverance will be rewarded.
During the 2023 graduation ceremony, distinguished graduates of the year addressed their fellow students sharing their personal story and their inspirations. Speeches truly exceptional, from the heart, that showed the unique bond of our community and the dedication of our students for creating a better future.
This is what we aim to create, to establish, at the university: A true partnership, that will allow everyone to flourish and to become their better version. When discussing about the sustainable development goals, we should always bear in mind that nothing can be achieved without collaboration, without an interdisciplinarity approach, without a sincere partnership. In these difficult times, when talking about taking initiatives and taking actions for tackling the multifaceted global challenges, such us the environmental/climate crisis, inequalities, quality education and capacity building, peace, and justice, we must cooperate, we must create strong networks of collaboration with a sincere interest in helping one another. This is what our objective is in the network of YERUN, as well as other scientific European and international networks.
Universities can provide many lessons, not just through teaching and research, but also through the multiangle operations of their vibrant community. A community that interacts with the society and has a genuine interest in its improvement.