Birzeit University Celebrates the 38th Commencement

On 14 June 2013, Birzeit University (BZU) held its 38th commencement ceremony, whereas 965 students from the Faculties of Arts, Science, Education and Graduate Studies have graduated. Moreover, 1025 students from the faculties of Engineering, Information Technology, Law and Public Administration, Business and Economics, Nursing and Allied Health Professions have graduated on June 16, 2013.
The ceremony was attended by the Palestinian President Representative Dr. Hussein Araj, Chairman of BZU Board of Trustees Dr. Hanna Nasir, Minister of Education and Higher Education Dr. Ali Zaidan, BZU President Dr. Khalil Hindi, BZU board members, faculty and staff members, a number of Palestinian figures, as well as graduates and their parents.
Dr. Hindi said: "Today, we celebrate the 38th commencement, while remembering that BZU College has become a university 40 years ago. The BZU founder Dr, Nasir said that we took this decision as a way to meet the challenges imposed by the Israeli occupation, which is unfortunately still perched on our chests. "
Dr. Nasir added that due to the joint efforts undertaken by BZU faculty and staff members, the university has become a renowned seat of learning. He urged the graduates to make every effort to reach the highest degrees of success, and effectively contribute to the Palestinian state and people.
The Chairman of the Presidential Office and Representative of the Palestinian President Dr. Hussein Araj said: "The Palestinian leadership will proceed forward and will harness its potential for the advancement of the educational process to secure optimal investment of our human resources - the most precious component.”
He commended the academic authorities for their substantial contribution to capacity building and preparation of leadership cadres, who actively contribute to community service, state and institutional building.
On the second day, the Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Adnan Yahya said: "Man is the real wealth of Palestine, and investment in human beings must be a top priority.” He added that BZU is constantly facing financial hardships that limit its ability to fulfill its obligations, not allowing any long-term planning.
Yahya added: Higher education including scientific research activities is expensive, so to support higher education is definitely a national mission He explained that an immediate long-term solution to what the universities are currently encountering is required and we hope this problem will be at the forefront of the government's priorities.
Zaidan said that the higher education sector in Palestine faces great challenges, most importantly the financial deficit and Israeli occupation; however, the greatness of our people is manifested in their efforts to face a lot of difficulties. There is a clear distinction between the ministry’s role and the universities’ role, as universities admit 35,000 students annually, with an average of 1300 majors in which 220,000 students are enrolled annually, he added.
Zaidan stated that the university is keen on the provision of educational services at the lowest cost for students, as the tuition fees may only cover around 75% of the university operating expenses.
Zaidan overviewed the ministry’s and government's efforts to support the higher education sector, in terms of government's annual support for universities and student lending fund, from which 45,000 thousand students benefit annually, amounting to 10-20 million Jordanian dinars on annual basis.
The ceremony included excellence awards, which were offered to BZU President’s Office Manager Isa Masriyah, who earned his master's degree from an American university and then joined BZU in 1977 and will be leaving soon.
The "distinguished employee" award was presented to the voluntary work officer Ms. Ghada Omari, while the "outstanding teacher" award was offered to the lecturer at the Faculty of Business and Economics Dr. Grace Khoury.
Moreover, and for the first time, "Gabi Baramki Prize of Academic Excellence" was awarded to the student May Ghassan Abbas. This award is scheduled to become an annual tradition, as an expression of appreciation for the late Dr. Gabi Baramki, who worked for many years at BZU.