The Secret Sauce of Brac University
Vice-Chancellor & President, Brac University
December 19, 2020
In Memory of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed
“O, call back yesterday, bid time return.” -- William Shakespeare
More than a year ago in October 2019, Sir Abed laid the foundation stone on the new campus of Brac University. On that stone, it reads: “From Sylhet for Humanity. From Here for the World.”
The first phrase, “From Sylhet for humanity” is something for which Sir Abed has been recognized through the BRAC NGO.
The second phrase, “From here for the world” is, however, an aspiration for Brac University. It is also a commitment, a commitment to becoming a world-class institution, i.e., becoming a center of creating knowledge that can be shared beyond the country’s boundary, and also becoming a place of educating good citizens for both Bangladesh and the world.
This is a grand goal, one that requires many steps to get there.
In the past year, we have taken our first steps. We have been reforming our administration to make it more efficient and effective, tuning our academics for the right direction, upgrading our academic standards, improving our student experiences, engaging in more activities with impacts, and making progress in international standing.
In particular, during the current pandemic, and in the last nine months, Brac University has become perhaps one of the ‘best performing’ universities, not only in Bangladesh, but also in the world. By ‘best performing,’ I’m referring to significant progresses on several key metrics during the current pandemic, such as our domestic student enrollment, our international student enrollment, our financial aid commitment to our students, our new online teaching and learning platform, and our overall responses to the pandemic.
In a recent international conference, I was asked, “So what is the secret sauce of Brac University?” My answer: “We do not have a secret sauce. We simply did the right things.” All along, we have made students the center of our decision making; we have upheld the best standards, most of which are also international standards; and we have engaged in relevant research and activities that create impacts. And that’s that.
Early this year in an event, I met a gentle lady for the first time. After a brief self-introduction, she said, “Sir Abed talked about you.” “Oh, in what occasion?” I asked. She said that she ran into Sir Abed in a day in fall 2018, when Sir Abed was just leaving the Office of the Prime Minister. He was holding a deck of documents in his hand and greeted her with excitement, “Apa, we will have the Harvard of South Asia.”
Indeed, Sir Abed had a very high expectation of Brac University. And indeed, we have taken our first steps. And if we do all the right things, eventually, we will get there, as a proud global institution from Bangladesh and as an everlasting legacy of Sir Fazle Abed.
And if Bangladesh can continue transforming its economy, Brac University may one day become the Harvard of South Asia, and perhaps more.
So, we will get there. We will get there if we all do all the right things right.