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Asunto:NoticiasdelCeHu 820/03 - American University in Kyrgyzstan
Fecha:Lunes, 23 de Junio, 2003  23:20:40 (-0300)
Autor:Humboldt <humboldt>

NCeHu 820/03

American University - Central Asia

AUCA is an American-style liberal arts university that offers high quality academic programs to qualified students from all over the world. It is the first and only higher education institution in Central Asia that functions according to the American model, with a credit-hour system, an American-style curriculum, and a commitment to democratic values, to freedom of expression and inquiry, and to academic integrity and honesty. The mission of the university is to promote civil society in this part of the world, to train a new generation of leadership for Central Asia and the CIS, and to introduce new pedagogical methods to Kyrgyzstan.

The Speech of George Soros
given at the Commencement Ceremony 2003

It is a great pleasure for me to be present at this celebration of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the American University of Kyrgyzstan and the launching of the American University of Central Asia. This University has achieved excellence in a very short time. It is recognized as the leading institution of its kind in the region. And it really has now recognition worldwide. I hear many positive comments about the quality of students, the quality of education and the quality of freedom at the University. So, this in a way has made this University my second most favorite child, second only to the Central European University, in which I am so much involved….(Applause)
And I very much hope many of you will go there to start or continue your studies.

My presence here today is not a coincidence. I made this trip specially in order to be here today. (Applauses) I visited several countries on the way: five on Balkans, some in Caucasus and some in Central Asia, and on my way back I am going to Russia. But the main purpose was to be here today. (Applause)

I don’t know if you are familiar with the famous guide for restaurants, the Micheline guide, which is published all over the world. The highest distinction the Michelline guide awards is 3 stars and the meaning of 3 stars is that it pays and justifies the journey. So I am giving 3 stars to the American University – Central Asia. (Applause)

I think that this remarkable achievement would not have been possible without the patronage and personal involvement of President Akaev… (Applause)… who fulfilled his commitment to academic freedom and freedom of discussion in this University. He told me that he has come here and he has been personally engaged in discussion with the students and the students gave him a hard time and he was very proud… (Applauses) I think this is a result of his personal commitment and engagement. And yesterday, when we met, I asked him to extend his personal interest in freedom of speech and discussion in other parts of the country, and he promised to do so. (Applause)

Then I must single out your Provost – Camilla Sharshekeeva, (Applause) whose personal devotion to this school has given it the spirit that it has. (Applause) But, it’s really, the faculty and students that are the heart of this University and I hope that you will continue to maintain the very high standards that you have accomplished already. 

So, how can one account for this success? I think, certainly the academic freedom, that is guaranteed by the President, is perhaps the single most important factor. But I think that the selection process of the students, that they are selected on merit and not on influence is another very important factor. And I think I am very pleased that this method of selection on merit has been extended to the university system at large. And I would like to congratulate the Kyrgyz minister of education Ms. Boljurova for maintaining this system, although I believe that it was Camilla who was involved in its original intoduction. (Applause)

Now, I have such a high regard for this University that I want to make sure that it’s continued existence by endowing together with the American Government. And I must thank and acknowledge the American Government, that actually contributes double the amount that I do, so I think, I get a lot of personal attention but I think the contribution of the American Government should not be forgotten. (Applause) My personal contribution to endowment will be $5 million dollars and on a matching fund with the American Government, which I believe is $10 million dollars. And there is a very important project initiated by the President and that is to have a Dormitory, so that University can accommodate students from the regions and from the neighboring countries. I think this is one of the most important aspects of the University, that it attracts students from the region. This is the region, which needs a lot more cooperation and understanding than it currently enjoys. I am sure the University will make a great contribution to that and Dormitory will help a great deal.
The budget is $6 million dollars and I have pledged $2 million dollars on this matching fund basis. (Applause)

So I would like to thank the mayor of Bishkek for contributing land for the building of the Dormitory. I am ready to contribute to the cost of the construction of the Dormitory and on the matching basis with the US Government, if the US Government is able to do it. (Applause) And that way, we shall have dormitory in the near future.

And finally I would like to acknowledge my Foundation here – Mirgul Smanalieva, our current Chair, and our previous Chair – Chinara Jakypova, who was involved at the time the University was founded, because they have been outstandingly supportive of the University and have been advising me, and helping to direct me in making my contributions. 

I have talked a lot about money, that’s not only because I am a financier, but because actually University does run on money, but the spirit is much more important than the money. And it is the spirit and academic achievement of this University that gives me a great satisfaction for being a supporter. 

So I should like to congratulate the graduating class of this year. You are very well qualified to go out in the world and improve it. And I wish well to all of the future students. Thank you.