PENANG, 29 September 2019 – Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) started its journey as the nation’s second higher learning institution fifty years ago. It was set up then to complement the nation-building process, providing the required knowledge and skills for future workforce.
As the university grew in its enrolment number and talent pool, it also became ‘a university of many firsts’. Among them are having the first female Registrar among the universities, the first to establish a distance education programme, the first to have a dedicated centre for female and gender studies, the first to establish a Student Parliament session, the first to appoint an Ombudsman, the first to have a female Vice-Chancellor who was also the first female Director-General of Education and many other firsts in research, academic and co-curricular activities.
In different parts of the world, awareness on the environment has started to grow more than ten years ago. USM had also envisioned a more sustainable tomorrow in the field of education. This vision was truly far-reaching, and which qualified USM to become the first and only APEX (Accelerated Programme for Excellence) university acknowledged by the Ministry of Higher Education in 2008.
Since then, it has been the norm for USM to embed and infuse its programmes and activities for its staff and students with elements of sustainability. The recent Hari Raya campus-wide celebration also reminded everyone to bring their own cup to the event, to reduce the use of disposable (paper and plastic) cups.
The journey of the university is not only about giving attention to Industry 4.0, Big Data, AI or IoT. It’s also about the journey of its various communities; the academics, the students, researchers, administrators and support staff. There is no better example than the 50th Commemorative Convocation ceremony, held back-to-back with the 57th Convocation ceremony.
The 50th anniversary celebration and convocation committee members comprising of academics and administrators from all departments and sections worked to their fullest to ensure that this 50th anniversary event would be a success.
Prior to this, other events related to the 50th anniversary have been held. It’s a celebration for the university, and at the same time it’s also about celebrating one another, all in the spirit of cooperation in diversity and togetherness through inclusivity.
The students too have made their various journeys to be part of the university. Parts of the journey may have been more exciting than others. A journey is about the distance travelled, time/energy/resources spent and companionship. It’s all about reaching the end of their studies, and part of growth as it could also be the start of another journey for others.
For the graduands in this year’s convocation, their lecturers and friends have been part of their journey for the past three to four years. Whether the journey is made alone or with people giving support, in the end it’s all about becoming a better individual.
Families too have made their ‘journey’ to ensure the graduands achieve success here at the university. It might just be a day’s travel or a four-year ‘trip’. Some families or friends have travelled from different parts of the world or from across the country, just to celebrate the success of their loved ones. It’s a journey that’s arduous to some, yet joyful to all. Being at the convocation would be just as meaningful for the families, as much as it is for the graduands.
A success for the students is also a success for the university. After 50 years, USM has proudly called many graduates as its own. Students of the university would come and go every year. The university would remain to carry on the success of its past legacies and to shoulder the responsibilities of projected priorities.
Moving 50 more years ahead would require the university to plan and steer in a clear direction. Wherever it goes though, it would still require the expertise and support of past and present community members to ensure a smooth journey ahead.
In order to continue to lead or to be the first, it would need to take a neverending journey. It is therefore important for all the members to ensure that whichever path they take, their journey would still lead to the same destination; only then they can say they have achieved success.
Text: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin