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Convocation of Haile Selassie I University
Tuesday, December 19, 1961
 
The Lion of Judah has prevailed
Haile Selassie I, Elect of God
King of Kings of Ethiopia


This is a most historic occasion for Us, and for the entire Ethiopian people. Today, the first convocation of this University, affords Us Our first opportunity, as Chancellor, to address the Governors, the Faculty, and the students as a single group.

We welcome and greet you all on this occasion. You who have in the past, either as teachers or students, been united in spirit although members of diverse educational institutions, are now truly united in this University. We welcome the members of the Board of Governors, who will direct the policy of the University. We welcome the administrators, who will provide the framework within which teacher and student alike will work. We welcome you, the professors, the instructors, the lecturers, to whom has been confided the task of leading our youth to higher levels of knowledge and learning. We welcome the students, our own and those from other lands, who will study here and from among whom will come future leaders.

We may pause briefly now to enquire why this University is being established, what goals it is seeking to achieve, what results we may expect of it and what contributions it can reasonably be expected to make.

A fundamental objective of the University must be the safeguarding and the developing of the culture of the people which it serves. This University is a product of that culture; it is the grouping together of those capable of understanding and using the accumulated heritage of the Ethiopian people. In this University men and women will, working in association with one another, study the well-springs of our culture, trace its development, and mould its future. That which enables Us today to open a university of such a standard is the wealth of literature and learning now extinct elsewhere in the world which through hard work and perseverance our forefathers have preserved for us. On this occasion We would like to remember with gratitude these fathers of great learning among whom We quote a few names such as Yared, Abba Giorgis of Gasicha, Absadi of Insaro, Wolde-Ab Wolde Mikael, Arat Ayina Goshu, Memihir Akala Wold and Aleka Gabra Medihin.

Music, drama and other forms of art are rooted in the ancient history of our Empire, and their development to an even higher peak of perfection will be possible in the atmosphere of a university. Ethiopia is possessed of an ancient literature, and its study can be fostered here so that the Ethiopian youth, inspired by this national example, may raise it to yet higher levels of excellence. The study of the heroic history of Our Empire will stimulate the imagination of budding authors and teachers. The understanding of that philosophy of life which is the basis of our traditional customs will lead us all to a better understanding of our nation and of our nation’s expression through the arts.

Spiritual Qualities No Longer Enough

The immediate and practical aim of this institution obviously is to educate the Ethiopian youth and to prepare them to serve their country. Although such education may be technical, it must nonetheless be founded on Ethiopia’s cultural heritage if it is to bear fruit and if the student is to be well adapted to his environment and the effective use of his skills facilitated.

There was a time when strength and endurance, courage and faith, were sufficient to make leadership equal to the task. But times have changed and these spiritual qualities are no longer enough. Today, knowledge and training, as provided largely in the universities of the world, have become essential, and today leadership and advancement, both national and international, rely heavily upon the products of universities. Even as Mr. Tubman, Mr. U-Nu, Madame Bandaranaika and Mr. U Thant were each educated in their own land, We trust that this University will produce leaders of comparable stature. In all countries of the modern world, special competence is required to deal with the advancement of agriculture, industry, commerce, and the civil service. That competence can be secured only through facilities which are provided in modern universities. We have often pointed out that the future of Ethiopia is largely conditioned upon accelerated agricultural development, upon mineral exploitation and upon industrial expansion. Her survival depends on these, but they, in turn, depend upon the competence of those who have received and who will receive the essential education and training. It is Our confident hope that this institution, which has been planned for many years will provide here, in our own land, for our own youth, the higher education and the specialized training required for such development.

That which man dreams of and to which he aspires, unless fulfilled in his own lifetime, can produce no actual satisfaction to him. As for Us, thanks be unto God that in the founding of this University We have realized a lifelong aspiration.

Fundamental Values and Moral Power

Considering the role of universities in a broader sense, We are persuaded that these institutions stand today as the most promising hope for constructive solutions to the problems that beset the modern world - problems which prevent the peaceful cooperation of nations, problems which threaten the world and humanity with death and disaster. From the universities must come men, ideas, knowledge, experience, technical skills, and the deep humane understanding vital to fruitful relations among nations. Without these, world order, for which We have so long strived, cannot be established. From the universities, too, must come that ability which is the most valuable attribute of civilized men everywhere; the ability to transcend narrow passions and to engage in honest conversation; for civilization is by nature “the victory of persuasion over force.” Unity is strength.

No nation can divide within itself and remain powerful. It is this strong conviction that underlies the decision to plan for the well-organized and coordinated system of education, training, and research which a university represents. A university is the fountain of learning; seek knowledge, and there you shall find it.

Nor can we ignore the importance of the spiritual in this academic life. Learning and technical training must be nurtured by faith in God, reverence for the human soul, and respect for the reasoning mind. There is no safer anchorage for our learning, our lives, and our public actions than that provided by Divine teachings coupled with the best in human understanding. Leadership developed here should be guided by the fundamental values and the moral power which have for centuries constituted the essence of our religious teachings. These are crucial times when nations rise against nations. Tensions increase, and disaster is possible at any moment. Distances are shrinking; peace and life are threatened by misunderstanding and conflict. Now is the time when the sincere belief in man’s kinship to God must be the foundation for all of man’s efforts for enlightenment and learning – the basis for all understanding, cooperation and peace. We charge all of you, the members of this University, that these special values remain foremost, as a foundation for your knowledge and thought, so that the fundamental moral truths will buttress and support the whole structure of university life.

Discipline of the mind is a basic ingredient of genuine morality and therefore of spiritual strength. Indeed, a univ-ersity, taken in all its aspects, is essentially a spiritual enterprise which, along with the knowledge and training it imparts, leads students into more wise living and a greater sensitivity to life’s responsibilities. Up to the present, technical training has been achieved through the College of Engineering and in the Ethio-Swedish Building College. These institutions, We trust, which are now merged into the University, will be expanded and developed so that the number of competent Ethiopian technicians will continue to increase.

Education An Investment

Education is costly, and higher education is the most costly of all. But it is also an investment, a very profitable investment, and the money spent in coordinating, strengthening, and expanding higher education in Ethiopia is well invested. We are proud of Our people’s recognition of the value of education. Their concerted effort in the building of schools and other social activities is most gratifying. Educational institutions, unlike business enterprises, do not exist and operate for profits in dollars and cents. They exist to perform public services, and they are judged by the effectiveness and economy with which they perform these services.

To the Board of Governors, to the administrators, We recommend economy, so that the benefits of the University can be enjoyed by as many of our young men and women as possible. Not a dollar should be wasted of the money so hardly earned and so generously contributed by our own Government and by the Governments of other nations. Plan thoughtfully, supervise closely, and manage economically, to the end that the greatest possible return may be realized in the preparation of competent manpower, in useful research and in training both technical and moral leadership. An immediate gain of the consolidation and coordination, the centralization of resources and operations, should be a saving in costs, and We urge all to cooperate fully in the attempt to realize this objective. Diligence is demanded in developing this University as rapidly as possible to meet the compelling needs of Our Empire.

We would ask that extraordinary emphasis be placed on the training of teachers for our primary and secondary schools. The educational process cannot be a narrow column; it must be in the shape of a pyramid and broadly based. To provide this broad base, large numbers of teachers are required, and we have a duty to provide Ethiopian teachers for these schools. This is why We have established teacher training centres in Harar and other places.

Need For Various Disciplines

The study of the humanities must not be neglected, and the College of Arts and Sciences must be strengthened and encouraged to develop its studies. These are the subjects which contribute most to the understanding and growth of our cultural heritage, and so assist in fulfilling one of the University’s primary aims. These studies, which are concerned with human cultural achievements, human rights, and duties, human freedoms, will enable youth to develop the understanding and judgment necessary to the formulation of a sound philosophy of life, to the making of wise choices, and to understanding what is involved in these choices. These young people face a world beset with the most effectively organized programme of deceptive propaganda and of thinly screened operations ever known; they deserve the best that can be taught by their parents, by religious institutions and by the University, to prepare them for a wise choice among contending ideals.

We would ask for the immediate founding of a graduate Faculty of Law, where our own graduates may be trained to enter the legal profession. Our Empire has need, in its government, its commerce, for well-educated lawyers, and particularly for those who have been trained in their own university, in their own codes and customs. We would also ask for the organization of a Faculty of Medicine in the near future. The training of doctors is a long and arduous process, and this very fact makes it all the more urgent that our own faculty be inaugurated as soon as possible.

While laying great stress on education for our younger citizens, we should not forget the obligation and the oppor-tunity which the University will have with respect to the older citizens. As We study the plans and projects of this University, We realize that much attention is being given to the extension of its usefulness to the entire population, in the form of extension courses and lectures. This is according to Our wish. Haile Selassie I University should attempt, either at this main site or at a branch, to serve every qualified citizen who wishes and is able to avail himself of the resources of the University if he is willing to do the required work.

Highest Calling

We do not suggest that the list of needs which We have mentioned is complete, but they represent needs to which this University is seeking to respond. The heaviest responsibility will, naturally, fall on the faculty. Theirs is the job of training the minds and hands of the youth of Ethiopia in the knowledge and in the special skills. We may all be proud of the Ethiopian members of the faculty who have adopted this highest of callings and who have in the past and will continue in the future to render great service to their nation. The teachers who, in the past, coming from many different countries, have discharged the duty of educating Ethiopia’s young men and women have earned Our appreciation and gratitude and the appreciation and gratitude of all of us. Their example should spur on those who staff the faculty of the University to pursue their tasks with diligence and to spare no effort to ensure that their teaching inspires those who study in their classrooms.

We sincerely thank Dr. Lucien Matte who assisted Us for many years with loyalty, devotion and diligence in Our efforts for the progress of education in Our country and in the establishment of the University College of Addis Ababa which is one of the affiliated institutions of the Haile Selassie I University.

Also We wish to remember the late Mr. A. Besse who was one of those who have generously contributed towards the establishment of this University.

All of you must maintain the highest standards in your instruction in order that the overall standard of this University may be second to none. Work together in harmony, as a team, in raising this institution to the highest academic levels. Each of you must do his part to contribute to the advancement of knowledge. You must above all be scholarly, for it is by deeds rather than by words that you can most effectively inspire your students to heed your words. Each of you should consider it his duty to pursue research in your own field of study, for you will thereby bring renown both upon yourselves and upon the institution.

On many occasions during recent years, We have had the opportunity to speak to our students. We trust that Our love and consideration for them and the deep interest which We feel in their progress has been felt and understood. Today, We have dedicated Our home, which We received from Our noble father, to their service, as a free gift to the nation, in the hope that We thus contribute to the opportunity for them to prepare for fruitful careers.

We ask that each student who passes through these halls devote himself to the development of his mind and body, his mental and physical prowess, so as to be better able to serve his country and his fellow countrymen. Choose the field of study which best suits your talents, continue unwavering in your diligent studies, prepare yourself for service in whatever profession you may best be fitted. God grant you success.


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