Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, KAUST President
Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, December 12, 2014

SPEECH: 2014 KAUST Commencement - The Road to Greatness Begins with You

It is now my honor to deliver the customary final charge to the class of 2014.

Graduates, tonight you will join over 800 alumni as KAUST's ambassadors throughout the world.

I am often asked my thoughts on what makes a university in science and engineering successful, or what makes a great university.

  • Obviously it involves recruiting, mentoring and developing outstanding faculty.
  • Creating a culture of excellence and a research environment where those who think and those who make can collaborate with the freedom to take big risks and have the time to explore untested ideas.
  • It also includes empowering the environment with world-class facilities and providing researchers with long-term sustained support.
Yet, the key ingredient— and over the long-term the key measure of success—is our students—our graduates.

The contributions you will make to the Kingdom and the world will reflect on how well KAUST prepared and equipped you as leaders, thinkers, makers, pioneers and influencers.

Therefore, you represent our greatest contribution to society.

You are KAUST's beacon of greatness and our future is linked to your journey and success.

So whether you continue in academia, join the private sector or embark on an entrepreneurial journey, your contributions to solving important problems locally and globally will be what matters.

It may be:

  • Working in corporations like Aramco and Sabic to develop better and more energy efficient materials and processes;
  • Participating in global initiatives to help create a new green economy on the scale of the industrial revolution;
  • Teaching and doing research on developing plants that can grow in desert environments; or
  • Creating new businesses in Jeddah, or Mexico, or China that address an important need and provide opportunities for people to work and grow.
Your contributions will take place in many different ways, but whatever they are, I urge you to contribute in ways that matter to society, your country and the world, and to bring to your work the values of integrity, passion, curiosity and excellence that KAUST is built upon.

Also, remember that you represent 38 different countries.

You have learned to work, respect and live with people of different backgrounds, races and nationalities; people with different ways of doing things.

Your journey at KAUST has not been just about getting a graduate education, but hopefully about becoming a committed global citizen.

Wherever you go, take this experience with you and be an ambassador for collaboration and friendship.

Many of you know that one of my favorite quotes is from the renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead who said "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has."

Graduates, you are just such a group. You can do things that matter and change the world. Please go and do it!