Gender Affairs Office

A Welcome Message for the First Year Students

by His Excellency, Dr Hasan Yusuf (PhD), President of Wollega University


Eggaa Baga Nagaan Dhuftani, Kabajamoo Dr Hasan Yusuf, Pirezidaantii Yunivarsiitii Wallaggaatin, Barattoota Waggaa Tokkoffaa Maraaf




A Welcome Message by a Wollega University President for The First Year Students

Hasan Yusuf (PhD)

Welcome everyone to Nekemte, shambu, and Gimbi towns and Wollega University. I am excited for having you in Wollega University. I want you to have a great four or five or six years in our university, but, more importantly, I want you to have a four or five or six-year experience that helps you develop the agency and autonomy to become the architect of your life.

The quality of education at Wollega University happens as our students become highly engaged in the academic experience, focused on one or two co-curricular, and surround themselves with peers, college/faculty/institute/school or departments staffs who advise them in different ways.

Let me put some context around Wollega University. There are 45 universities in Ethiopia. Wollega University occupies a unique place in the Ethiopian higher education landscape as a front-runner among those thirteen second generation Universities which started functioning in 2009. We want our University to become one of the best twenty five universities in Africa in 2033—that is our ambition, our aspiration, our vision. Our University was established 14 years ago in 2009 with mission to produce competent, innovative, autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents, and active citizens of a democratic society in various disciplines.

At the beginning our university started with a total focus on undergraduate education with 17 academic programs. We have now 94 undergraduates, 84 masters, 15 PhD programs, medical doctoral and specialty students, schools, and teaching referral hospital. Now about 34, 000 students are being admitted to different academic programs of our university. Our focus of teaching and learning mission is on providing students with undergraduate and graduate education. But not just any education. We tries to immerse students in a challenging, engaging, and broad-based quality education that develops a set of attributes that allows graduates to think critically, understand profoundly and connect broadly. Our University runs its business with 1579 academics staffs and 2833 administration and supportive staffs.

Dear students,

During your first year stay in our university we want you to learn and know your culture, your history, your country`s geography; to learn to write and communicate; work with numbers and data; weave disparate ideas into new ways of thinking; frame questions; critically think, solve puzzles and problems; connect with a broad range of people and ideas; and identify and follow a line of logic. These are some of the expected and important learning outcomes of the newly nationally designed course catalogue for freshman students.

But, as worthy as those abilities are, the power of the soft skills and emerging disruptive technologies is becoming much deeper. Over the next four or five or six years, we want to help you create a way of being in the twenty first century world. We work to make Wollega university students experience the beauty and meaning of intellectual pursuits; rigorous academics and sharp thinking; the thrill of knowledge for its own sake; and the impact of learning when standards are high and classmates are engaged with the course material and each other.

Of course, this type of learning will be extending across all of our campus. We require our regular students to live inside our campuses, because we believe campus life deepens learning opportunities in university education. Sports, the arts, campus organizations and other co-curricular activities will be expanded to serve as platform for students to further develop and practice professional skills, values, and habits. We also believe that there is something powerful about living with high-achieving peers together in dormitories that are committed to their education in their respective fields of studies, who want to do well in life, and who bring a wide range of views, perspectives and life experiences to campus. Students often challenge and learn from one another. Generally we want to provide our students with the skills, values, habits, networks, and experience to succeed in life. And we seek to instill within our students a sense that we all should strive to do this in ways that contribute beyond ourselves.

Dear students,

These education processes in our university is not linear and it is not always easy as well. Your time at Wollega University can be filled with joys, successes, surprises, and it also will have its share of obstacles, frustrations, disappointments and sometimes failures. All of this is what can happen elsewhere in the world when about more than 12,000 culturally diverse students and staff live together in the university. And it is what sometimes happens in the campuses of our university.

There have been huge successes in our university since its establishment. We expect the same this year as well. We have witnessed to the fantastic academic performances, senior research projects made by our students. We had fun watching sporting events and performances of some kinds and the art works, our senior classes have left some good legacies for you that will be enhanced through your leadership and participation. These could be some of our students’ joys during their stay in our university.

Dear students,

I would like to call up on you our beloved students to embrace a new way of thinking, which can be defined by a university where students come from different regional states, cultural, ethnic, religious backgrounds are dependent upon each other and do impacts each other positively. For example, if we are going to address campus wide environmental hygiene challenges, theft related crimes or a range of other issues, what one student or a group of students does impacts the ability of another student or group of students to manage its own issues.

I would also like to further emphasize that the only path forward is for students from different culture, ethnic identity and political viewpoints living in our university to learn to not just get along but to work across tremendous differences to do their work that will take to address major conflicting issues in the university campuses. We do not have to look like each other. But, we have to learn to effectively work together. Of course, this will require individual student mindset transformation among many other things.

I am also calling on every student and staff to think critically, understand profoundly, and connect broadly. We need a new generation of students and citizens, who can connect with others because they can communicate, listen and hear; solve problems through rigor and reason; practice respect, tolerance, and humility; and commit to working with others to get things done. These are what we expect our students develop from their University education.

In general, here is my advice on how to use, a Wollega University education opportunity, to become The architect of your life at present and future.

First, devote your time at Wollega University to four primary activities:

• Make your academic courses the centerpiece of your university experience. Nothing is more important. Academics are why universities exist. The university education can strengthen and open your mind and imagination in powerful and life transforming ways, but only if you take advantage of the opportunity to immerse yourself in the academics. This means taking a wide range of classes and prioritizing your academic work. In Wollega University we use active pedagogies and continuous assessment as student evaluation technique. But these approach only work if students come prepared to be fully engaged. At Wollega University, the quality of the academic experience is shaped by the academic staff at colleges/faculties/institutes and/or departments, but also by the commitment and engagement of every student in every class.

Let me place a huge footnote on this priority - placing courses front and center is not about grades, but rather about taking a wide range of challenging classes and getting the most from each of them. Find power and joy in the books you read, the papers you write, the discussions you have in class, and the conversations with departments in and outside of the classroom.

• Get involved in co-curricular activities – but not overly involved. Wollega University students are doers, and much learning comes from co-curricular involvement. But the goal is not to do a large number of things but to learn to do a small number of things well. Value depth, commitment and excellence, and avoid busyness for the sake of busyness. The learning and fun from co-curricular come from being committed, and working with others to win games, put on performances, improve campus, and so forth.

• Savor the intellectual and cultural events. This year we have a special plan to expand and strengthen our campuses with extraordinary intellectual and cultural events, including public lectures, public debates and dialogue forums, plays, concerts, art openings, and panel conversations. Don’t lose sight of this amazing part of university life. Intellectual and cultural experiences expand your mind, imagination and world views. Attend and participate in lectures and art events that expose you to new perspectives. Savor the plethora of unique opportunities to be exposed to people, ideas and artistic expressions that provide ways of seeing the world, or some part of it, in an entirely new way.

• Focus on career exploration, especially between semesters: Wollega University should help you develop ideas for the kind of life you want to live; an understanding for how careers allow people to build lives; and to acquire the skills, values, habits, networks, and experiences to successfully get started jobs or post-graduation. Use the academic courses, co-curricular, and campus events to examine unfamiliar topics and help you identify and explore interests and passions. And also use part of your time at Wollega University to engage with its career development center. Do this early and do it often. The Center will help you focus on career related programs, connect with alumni, and have experiences that will enhance career exploration, preparation and launching. Make career exploration and using the Center a priority. Take the courses that interest and challenge you, while allowing the Career Center to help you take what you have learned and translate it into an internship or first job.

Second, your ability to effectively do these four things will be greatly enhanced if you do the following:

• Seek out college/ faculty/institute/school/department staff who will advise you. An advisor from our department academic staff cares about our students and wants to see them excel. As such, they provoke, inspire and demand, as a way to lead students in a process of self-discovery, personal growth, and learning. They won’t always tell you what you want to hear or give you what you want. College/ Faculty/ institution/ school/ department and staff will purposefully push you to develop attributes that will help you develop the agency and autonomy needed to thrive both in a university and beyond. This isn’t always going to be easy, but it will be both purposeful and powerful. We believe that our students are outstanding and have incredible potential – and college/faculty/institute/schools and staff are here to advise you to that potential.

• Develop a wide set of friendships, especially with people who are different from your cultural and other background and identities. Friendships run deep at University. Typically, students start by developing friendships with people who have similar life experiences, but that should be the starting point, not the end goal. Wollega University works best when students seek out and form friendships with people who have a different set of culture, life experiences and world views. This means proactively seeking out those peers in student residential buildings, dormitories, classrooms, and other campus venues who see and live in the world differently than you. The wider your network of friends, the more you will learn from your peers.

• Develop good life habits. Our university education programs are designed to develop whole people. Life habits are crucial, especially avoiding traps of addictions, allocating time for relaxation and sleep; unplugging from social media and spending more face-to-face time with friends. This year we are going to promote about emotional agility/intelligence in our university, which refers to a mindset that gives people the resiliency, perseverance and tools to transform challenge into success. Take advantage of the mindfulness and wellness programs that we will initiate this year.

• Learn to Fail Forward. Part of a transformative university experience is learning to see and use stumbles and failure as part of the process of self-discovery, personal development, and eventual achievement. Everything is not going to go well all of the time. When things don’t go well, avoid the temptation of believing that everybody else is succeeding at every aspect of their life, while you are not. It’s not true! University is about growing as a person. This happens as you challenge yourself at a high level and in new ways. Failing is a normal, healthy, and positive part of doing this well. When things don’t go well, follow the advice above: seek out your college/faculty/ institute/ school/ department staff that can help you learn from the experience, participate in some of the programs we are offering across campus on developing good life habits, and be with peers. And most of all, try again.

And third, as you are doing all of this, help us create and recreate a strong community at Wollega University. We depend upon members of our community understanding, appreciating, enjoying and respecting the differences that are a huge strength of Wollega University community, while also seeing beyond the differences to find the connections that create a campus community of Wollega University. Be excited to connect with and to learn from each other, but most of all treat one another with respect and kindness as members of a single community. Connect with others who might be struggling. And express yourself in ways that are mindful of how others might hear you. Cultural competency and appreciation for language diversity, cultural, political, intellectual and other forms of pluralism is core to your Wollega university education and to preparing for life after our university.

University is not a spectator sport. The university experience you have will be the one you create.

Your time here will not always be easy. You are going to have to balance challenging classes, time consuming co-curricular and myriad relationships with peers. There will be lots of fun moments and lots of deep friendships formed. Also, remember that much of the self-discovery, personal growth, and learning come because of the stuff that does not go as planned – especially the missteps, struggles, and failures. It is also clear to for everybody that a university education will help you identify the kind of life you want to lead. And it has the power to help you develop the skills, values, and habits that you will bring to that life and be successful. You are about to experience a type and caliber of education that every student deserves, but very few receive. Take advantage of it.

Lastly, a plea. You will see me around campus, and when I ask how things are going, it is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know. I am excited to welcome you to Wollega University and excited to get to know you. I will also ask you, if you are forging friendships with people on campus whose life experiences are different from your own and if you are taking a wide range of classes. I will further ask you about the quality of services that the university is providing you.

May our students cultivate habits of mind, share in our commitment to community, and embrace the values of our mission statement as competent, autonomous thinkers, discerning moral agents, and active citizens of a democratic society.

Again Welcome to Wollega University!!

Thank you,

July 05/2021

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