NEASC Accreditation Celebration: The Recognition Ceremony.

In order to recognize the contributions of the greater Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane community, as well as the particular roles played by various key members in the NEASC accreditation, AUI recently held a “Recognition Ceremony” during its “Institutional Accreditation Celebration”. This ceremony featured many speakers, including Dr. Driss Ouaouicha (President of AUI), Dr. Barbara Brittingham (President of CIHE at NEASC), Mr. Abdellatif Jouahri (Chancellor of AUI), Dr. Jack Kalapkian (Chair of the Academic Council), Mr. Said Nouamani (Chair of the Administrative Advisory Council), and Mr. Souhail Ramid (President of the Student Government Association), as well as a closing choir that sang two songs. Though their speeches varied in content, they were bound together with one message: this momentous achievement would not have been possible without the support given by the students, faculty, and staff.

The importance behind this accreditation is, as Mr. Ramid stated in his speech, that it will bring “a sense of motivation and inspiration to the brightest minds of Al Akhawayn University”, pushing them to strive for even greater heights. Dr. Kalpakian echoed this sentiment, affirming that the NEASC accreditation will certainly assure employers “that the education at Al Akhawayn is a Liberal Arts education in the vein of the sort of education offered in the United States”.

However, while this accreditation aptly demonstrates the caliber of the AUI education, it also shows the effort the staff and faculty are willing to put in in order to achieve these even greater heights. These accreditations are neither easily achieved, nor easily maintained—indeed, AUI is the first ever non-US American university in Africa to be the recipient of NEASC accreditation. But President Ouaouicha is confident that “we have a responsibility to maintain [this] level of excellence”, and, more importantly, “we have a responsibility to move forward, to develop, and move to the next level of excellence which we will achieve by defining, working on together, and seeing what the next chapter will look like”.

“Excellent universities,” Dr. Brittingham tells us, “are excellent in part because they take advantage of every opportunity for improvement, and you have taken advantage of that through the accreditation process [… and] as remarkable as Al Akhawayn University is in its young history, I am confident that your best days are ahead of you”. To borrow the President’s own language, the chapter may be finished, but the story has only just begun.