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KAUST's 2013 master's and doctoral candidates were conferred their degrees at the University's Commencement Ceremony on December 14. In addition to recognizing KAUST's fourth graduating class, the University's new President, Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, was officially inaugurated by H.E. Ali I. Al-Naimi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Located on the shores of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, KAUST opened in 2009 with the mission to advance scientific research to address grand challenges of global significance in the areas of water, food, energy, and the environment. Dr. Chameau joined KAUST in July 2013, leaving his position as President of California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
Addressing KAUST faculty, staff, Board of Trustee members, distinguished guests, graduating students, and their families at the ceremony, Chairman Al-Naimi said, "President Chameau's track-record as a researcher, educator, and distinguished academic leader make him uniquely qualified to lead the next phase of KAUST's development. He will continue to build upon excellence in education and research. His presence on campus, around the Kingdom, and among global audiences, is already bolstering our long-term vision for KAUST."
"I am honored and privileged to receive your confidence," President Chameau remarked, "and also humbled by the responsibility you entrust in me as the President of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology."
Addressing the Class of 2013, Dr. Chameau said, "Ultimately, the greatness of KAUST and its contributions to the world and society will be through you, our graduates. If we educate students and engage them in an environment that stresses excellence, curiosity, invention, integrity, and a passion for doing things that matter, we will be a great university and serve society well."
Distinguished guest speaker of the ceremony, Dr. Robert H. Grubbs (Victor and Elizabeth Atkins Professor of Chemistry at Caltech and 2005 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry) shared, "Most universities take generations to develop and grow, but KAUST has made amazing strides towards the development of world class research facilities and laboratories in only four short years. That is a short time to turn a distant dream into reality."
Representing the Class of 2013 as the student Commencement speaker was master's candidate Hassan Al-Ismail. Al-Ismail, a Saudi student sponsored to KAUST by Saudi Aramco, earned his MS in Earth Science and Engineering with a specialization in Geophysics. "We all came here because we dared to accept this challenge: the challenge of transformation, the challenge of realizing a dream - King Abdullah's dream, a dream of a great man who saw no limit to what he could do to put his country in the fast lane to progress," he said.
At the ceremony, 18 students were awarded their doctoral degrees. This second cohort of KAUST PhD graduates originates from 13 different countries on five continents. Six of these PhD graduates received their master's degrees as KAUST's first graduating class in 2010. One of these six graduates, May Majed Saleh Al-Qurashi, is KAUST's first Saudi PhD graduate.
Ninety-six MS candidates hailing from 22 countries were also recognized during the ceremony. Among them, 43% are Saudi. Many of these master's graduates will continue at KAUST for their PhDs.
Several of the 2013 graduates will leave academia, joining KAUST's collaborative industry partners Saudi Aramco, SABIC, and the DOW Chemical Company in support of the KAUST mission to contribute to the transformation of Saudi Arabia to a knowledge-based economy.