First, Happy New Year! 2020 was tough for everyone and as 2021 starts we still face many pandemic-related challenges. I have been impressed at the number of Zoom meetings, webinars, and other events sponsored by faculty as well as various student organizations, despite the pandemic. Indeed, the realization that certain international connections can be strengthened through information technology may be one of the most important “lessons learned” from the pandemic experience.
Despite the pandemic, construction continues on a number of buildings including the new Campus Center which should be complete by January 2022 and the new Media Center which is moving along nicely. Once the required building permit is received, we hope to proceed with the construction of a new classroom block for Light of Hope School.
A new Forman/TSA partnership is also moving forward. Most notably, the old TSA site near the FCCU campus will provide facilities for a new female hostel, starting with 16 female students but eventually including as many as 86. This initiative, headed by Dr. Matthew Jeong, also includes the continuation of a special needs school that had been closed due to COVID-19; the establishment of a community counseling center; and the maintenance of the TSA female income generation program. These activities should eventually provide internship or volunteer opportunities for Forman students, especially those living in the nearby hostel. Forman departments such as Psychology, Education, and the Business School are already involved or potentially can become involved. My sincere hope is that this partnership will give tangible meaning to our motto: “By love serve one another”. For a video on this project, please visit: http://bit.ly/TSA-FCCU
Forman undergraduates continued to meet with success in a number of areas. For example, Mindstorm Studios selected three Forman students -- Ans Naveed, Amna Sheikh, and Muhammad Ali -- for an eight-week long learning experience focused on computer game development, a $150 billion worldwide industry that hardly existed a few decades ago. More than 700 Pakistani students applied for the program, out of which only forty were selected -- including three from Forman.
Online student activities also continue, despite COVID-19. For example, I was pleased to see that the Forman Urdu Society and Forman Music Society together sponsored a folk singing and ghazal (a short poem with rhyming couplets) competition, with Adil Hussain taking first place in the ghazal part of the program followed by Noman Ejaz and Hamra Kanwal.
Two events rank among the most important of my early tenure at Forman:
(1) the online virtual Commencement for the Class of 2020 held on February 27, marking the graduation of nearly 900 Forman students receiving a mix of Baccalaureate (Hons), Masters, and Ph.D. degrees; (2) Founder’s Day on March 3, especially notable this year because it commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles W. Forman, the founder of Forman Christian College.
Anyone familiar with higher education in Pakistan will be familiar with the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and its role as a regulatory body. Among other things, this involves significant reporting requirements, a task Forman makes every effort to fulfill. This month I am pleased to note that Forman achieved a “100 percent” rating from the HEC’s Higher Education Data Repository, one of only two universities to achieve this perfect score prior to the HEC deadline. My thanks to Amoon Jawaid Austin and his colleagues in Forman’s QEC for making this possible. I want to ensure that others across Pakistan and beyond hear about the many positive things that are happening at FCCU, despite the challenges and inevitable setbacks that all of us will experience along the way. And that is one of my wishes for Forman in this New Year -- that such stories will not remain hidden, rather that they will be circulated, told, and described to others in ways that also help advance Forman’s wider educational mission in Pakistan!