University Leadership Comes Together for 82nd LUMS Board Meeting
Several new directions, embodying the University’s ‘Learning Without Borders’ vision, have been initiated at LUMS, explained Vice Chancellor, Dr. Arshad Ahmad, at the 82nd LUMS Board Meeting held on December 4.
Members of the LUMS Board of Trustees were present at the meeting, including Founding Pro Chancellor, Syed Babar Ali, Pro Chancellor, Mr. Abdul Razak Dawood and Rector, Mr. Shahid Hussain.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, LUMS has become more interconnected than ever and has learnt from the challenges it faces. “Our faculty has demonstrated a spirit of learning, as within weeks of the outbreak they learnt to teach online, continued to participate in pedagogical training, and kept up with their research and service obligations. Our students also transformed into self-directed learners at home. They have been resilient and encouraged each other to stay engaged.”
The year also stressed on the need for constant communication within the LUMS community, so town halls and other virtual meetings were regularly held along with over 55 LUMS Live webcasts.
He also shared plans to open the University in Spring 2021. “We have also kept options open keeping in mind the circumstance on ground. We are ready to offer several teaching and learning options to faculty and students depending on how the second wave pans out in January.”
Dr. Ahmad further discussed the issue of health and safety, “A strategy document was conceived by the University wide Health and Safety Committee led by Dr. Samia Altaf and Dean, Dr. Ali Khan. We have strengthened our Clinical and Psychological Support Services (CAPS). There are designated isolation rooms for those who become ill, while we have partnered with hospitals, refined SOPs and implemented protocols. And to date we have not experienced an outbreak.”
LUMS has also reaffirmed its zero-tolerance stance on sexual harassment; several support services including the Office of Accessibility and Inclusion, Office of Wellness and Recreation, and CAPS have been strengthened to further help students, and are operating with a strong focus on gender equity.
A significant improvement on campus has been the creation of designated smoking areas. There is signage across the campus and a campaign of rehabilitation including fines. Those who cannot pay the fines will be required to do community service. There have been major renovations on hostels and a large state-of-the-art daycare facility has been built, which will be run by alumni, graduate students, and staff.
Provost, Dr. Farhat Haq, spoke about the common mission that all LUMS stakeholders are working towards. “We wish to make LUMS a progressive, world-class, 21st century university which will proudly showcase its South Asian heritage and be dedicated to building a better world.”
The Provost Office, she explained, will play a central role in responding to challenges as it provides support for innovation and excellence in the five Schools. “We are working to enable connections that will integrate the various Schools and Centres into a holistic entity. The Provost Office is bridge building between different parts of the University, and facilitates University wide and school based Centres in integrating knowledge across disciplines and fusing it with practice.”
The second critical role of the Provost Office is to ensure processes are in place to hire and retain excellent faculty. “A tenure promotion system has taken root at LUMS and we are developing best practices in teaching, and evaluating them properly.”
At the meeting, other strategic initiatives discussed included the launch of several new graduate programmes in innovative areas such as accounting and analytics, financial management, and supply chain and retail management.
The Board was also apprised of how Centres at LUMS are making significant contributions towards a dynamic research environment. The National Centre of Big Data and Cloud Computing was responsible for the development of an open data portal for Pakistan, while the Energy Institute has published Pakistan’s Energy Outlook for the next five years. The Water and Informatics and Technology Centre also continues to make progress in terms of providing the country with real time data on irrigation and water resources.
Furthermore, the LUMS Learning Institute is developing the online platform LUMSx - a University wide initiative for learning. While a new team at the National Incubation Centre is working to reorganise and enhance the productivity of its incubation and acceleration programme, and grow it in to a full-fledged LUMS entrepreneurship institute.
Developments shared at the annual Board Meeting were a testament to how during a challenging year, LUMS has remained committed to excellence in teaching and learning, and has adapted to meet the needs of its community in an efficient and empathic way.