AUW 10th Commencement Ceremony and Conference

AUW 10th Commencement Ceremony

January 21, 2023, Chattogram, Bangladesh


Academic Procession

Graduating Students, Faculty, Stage Participants

Ceremony Opening Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. Beena Khurana

Address by the Chancellor Cherie Blair, CBE KC

Address by the Chair of AUW Board of Trustees and Honorable Education Minister Dr. Dipu Moni

Address by Special Guest HE Former Prime Minister of Denmark Poul Nyrrup Rasmussen

Video Address by Prime Minister of Bangladesh and AUW Chief Patron the Honorable Sheikh Hasina

Message from Former US Secretary of State the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton

Message from AUW Patron & Former US First Lady Laura Bush

Announcement of Distinguished Honorary Professorships

Professor Sunil Amrith, Yale University

Professor Rupa Viswanath, University of Göttingen

Commencement Address

Professor John Sexton, President Emeritus, New York University

Address by the Vice Chancellor Dr. Rubana Huq

Address by AUW Co-Founder and Chair of AUW Support Foundation Mr. Jack Meyer (Hon’2019)

Andy Matsui Outstanding Academic Achievement Awards

Conferral of Bachelor’s Degrees

Student speakers

Aditi Manandhar, Class of 2020

Farishta Murad, Class of 2021

Maisha Farzana, Class of 2022

Ceremony Closing and Recessional


Can Universities Shape Society?  Reflections, Ideas and Dreams

January 21-22, 2023, Chattogram, Bangladesh

This conference commemorates a life of hope of a young woman named Mahsa Amini.  Barely 22 years old at the time of her death, Mahsa’s life was brutally cut short on September 16, 2022 when she died in a Tehran hospital after being arrested by the “Morality Police” of the Islamic Republic of Iran.   Aspiring to become a lawyer, Mahsa became a victim of unjust laws. Instead of safeguarding a citizen from danger, the state itself became the perpetrator of murder of this young woman. Her alleged crime:  her hijab was not adequate; some unruly strands of her hair uncontrollably sneaked out of her hijab.   We condemn the forces that caused Mahsa’s death and join women and men around the world in seeking justice for Mahsa and freedom for women in Iran and everywhere else where justice and equality continue to elude them.

We also honor another Iranian woman, the mother of a daughter, Maryam Mirzakhani.  Born in Tehran in 1977, Maryam Mirzakhani, studied at Sharif University and then went on to do her PhD at Harvard University and, subsequently, became a professor of Mathematics at Stanford University.  Maryam Mirzakhani succumbed to breast cancer in July 2017 at the Stanford Hospital at the young age of 40.  By then, she had already earned the Fields Medal, the highest honor of achievement in Mathematics.  With her family’s consent and her academic advisor’s encouragement, AUW will establish the Maryam Mirzakhani Chair in Mathematics at AUW to be held by an outstanding female mathematician.

Day 1: January 21 

Opening Plenary: Can Universities Shape Societies?


  1. Professor John Sexton, President Emeritus, New York University
  2. Dr. Bryan Penprase, Professor of Physics & Astronomy, Soka University
  3. Professor Rupa Viswanath, Professor of Indian Religions at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen
  4. Professor Maithree Wickramasinghe, AUW Trustee, Professor of English, University of Kelaniya
  5. Professor Yujin Yaguchi, Vice President (Global Education), Deputy Director, Division for Global Campus Initiatives, Professor, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, The University of Tokyo
  6. Ms. Kat Fotovat, Senior Official, S/GWI, Office of Global Women’s Issues

Moderators: Kamal Ahmad and Rubana Huq, Asian University for Women


Reflections by Students, Faculty & Staff on AUW’s 15 Years (Video Presentation)

Moderator: Dr. Sangita Rayamajhi, Former Professor of Literature, AUW


Day 2: January 22 

Remembering Mahsa Amini; Iranian Constitution and State Power and Practices

Speakers (via video):

  1. Professor Abbas Milani, Stanford University
  2. Ms. Afsaneh Beschloss, Founder & CEO, Rock Creek Capital and former CFO of the World Bank

Moderator: Kamal Ahmad, AUW Founder


The Case of the Subcontinent’s Dalits: Extent & Nature of their Oppression and Ways to Overcome It


  1. Professor Rupa Viswanath, Professor of Indian Religions at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen
  2. Ms. Sonu Rani Das, Women’s Affairs Secretary, Bangladesh Dalit & Excluded Rights Movement
  3. Dr. Maher Spurgeon, Director of South Asia Programs, United Board of Christian Higher Education in Asia
  4. Dr. Sangita Rayamajhi, Former Professor of Literature, AUW

Moderator: Dr. Beena Khurana, Dean of Arts and Sciences, AUW


Functions of a University in Overcoming Obstacles to Women’s Leadership


  1. Ms. Kathy Matsui, General Partner, MPower Partners, former Goldman Sachs Japan Vice Chair
  2. Dr. Mariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor, NYU Abu Dhabi
  3. Dr. Firdausi Qadri, Senior Scientist and Director of the Center for Vaccine Science at ICDDR, B

Moderator: Dr. Rubana Huq, AUW Vice Chancellor


Women’s Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Transforming Girls’ Education


  1. Professor Glenn DeVoogd, California State University
  2. Dr. Amy Thompson, West Virginia University
  3. Professor Karen DeVoogd, California State University
  4. Dr. Svetlana Bochaver, Product Manager, Marketing & Comms for Education, Yandex
  5. Ms. Fatima Qasemi, Masters Student, AUW
  6. Ms. Zulikha Malekzai, Masters Student, AUW

Moderator: Dr. David Taylor, AUW Dean of Humanities


Models of Partnership to Make A Difference


  1. Dr. Tim DeVoogd, AUW Trustee, Professor of Psychology & Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University
  2. Ms. Heather Harms, Director of Global Programs, S/GWI, U.S. Department of State
  3. Dr. John Storm, Senior Lecturer, University of Aberdeen
  4. Professor Yujin Yaguchi, Vice President (Global Education), Deputy Director, Division for Global Campus Initiatives, Professor, Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, The University of Tokyo

Moderator: Mr. Jack Meyer, Chair, AUW Support Foundation & Ms. Mashiat Sharif AUW Class of 2019, Corporate Communications Manager, AIA Hong Kong


Rethinking Global Approaches to Afghanistan: Meeting Humanitarian and Development Needs and Securing Rights in an Uncertain Environment — A Conversation 


  1. HE Tomas Niklasson, EU’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan
  2. Honorable Mr. Michael Posner, Former US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Rights and Labor and Professor of Ethics and Finance, Stern School of Business, New York University


Rising Global Authoritarianism and Its Consequences for Citizenship and Conflict


  1. (via video) Professor Larry Jay Diamond, Mosbacher Senior Fellow in Global Democracy at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Professor, by courtesy, of Sociology and of Political Science, Stanford University
  2. Former Prime Minister Poul Nyrrup Rasmussen (Denmark)
  3. Chancellor Cherie Blair, AUW

Moderator: Kamal Ahmad, AUW Founder


Oppression and Terror of Statelessness: Human Dimension of Displacement and Exile Kashmiri, Rohingya, Yemeni, Syrian and Afghan students 


  1. Mr. Saifullah Muhammad, Executive Director, Rohingya Centre of Canada
  2. Hala Alshaar, Student, AUW
  3. Nusaibah Ghaleb Alnahari, Student, AUW
  4. Mahdia Ahmadi, Student, AUW
  5. Tofrida Rahman, Student, AUW
  6. Falak Shabir, Student, AUW

Moderator: HE Ambassador Lilly Nicholas, High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh


Concluding Session: Where do we go from here?

Keynote Speakers: Former Prime Minister Poul Nyrrup Rasmussen and Chancellor Cherie Blair

To be joined by AUW Choir

2023 Commencement Brochure

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AUW Conference "Can Universities Shape Society?"

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