Thank you very much for your kind introduction.
I am honored to be here today to speak at the commencement ceremonies of the American University of Madaba. To our honored attendees and the staff, faculty, students, and their families, I bring a greeting from New Hampshire and all who worked so hard to establish a partnership between your university and the higher education community in the United States. Michael King and I have come to celebrate this wonderful occasion with all of you. I am also honored to extend greetings and congratulations to the university, graduates and families from The Honorable Governor of New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan.
As Chair of the New Hampshire State Senate on Education, I was invited and authorized to participate on the 1st New Hampshire Post Secondary Education Commission team to evaluate AUM's application to be approved by the state of New Hampshire.
I not only attended as a statutory observer, but a substantive member of the evaluation team. The New Hampshire team was very impressed that AUM substantially met all of the state requirements for plan approval. We reported the same to the Commission and it adopted our recommendations.
But it didn't end there. In New Hampshire, an institution needs not only agency approval, but an Act of the two houses of the Legislature and signature of the Governor to receive - New Hampshire degree granting authority.
Four years ago, I was proud to be the prime sponsor of that necessary legislation. Co-sponsor Senator Lou D’Allesandro who many of you may have heard him speak at the 1st commencement last September was a strong advocate for its passage. The legislation was passed and the act was then signed into law by the Governor authorizing the American University of Madaba, located in the Kingdom of Jordan and incorporated in New Hampshire, to confer American degrees upon its graduates, subject to the authority of the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission.
I am also proud to announce today that the New Hampshire Higher Education Commission completed a mandatory three year review of the University and recommended unanimously that the State Legislature continue approval for the University’s authority to grant degrees as an international affiliate institution of higher education in the State of New Hampshire.
I remember on my visit here last year realizing how this university had exceeded expectations in such a very short period and today it continues to do just that. It is obvious today that the Administration, faculty and other staff are active with the student population to make sure the mission and vision of this university are alive and well. Experiences at AUM have enriched my life in so many ways. I have been so honored to witness its development and ongoing success.
I had hoped that my grandson who is a junior in high school would accompany me on this trip to observe the wonderful opportunities at AUM, experience its culture and perhaps include AUM in his post-secondary education. Unfortunately being the only goalie on his soccer team he would have had to miss a couple of games and couldn't make that decision. He has missed so much.
And so, here we are this evening….we, the American University of Madaba, a unique academic community founded by the Roman Catholic Church through the leadership of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem as a private, not-for-profit Jordanian and American university. Tonight the university is exercising the authority to grant degrees to those men and women who have by their own talents, determination and support from this international higher education community, completed the requirements established by the University to become graduates of this institution.
Senator D'Allesandro had hoped to attend this ceremony, but he has a family member experiencing a severe medical condition and he was needed at home. He longs to return to AU for a later event, or be a guest speaker for a class and I guarantee it will be a class not to be missed.
In closing I am grateful to all who have enriched my life and helped me along the way. Be grateful for your education – it is the key to your future. Use it well and your future will be bright.
I want to offer you and your families, congratulations and my hope that your future be filled with the gifts of love, peace, and happiness – gifts that have no cost but great value. Thank you for the invitation to celebrate this extraordinary occasion with you. On behalf of myself, Senator D’Allesandro and the people of the State of New Hampshire…..Salaam – Peace be with you.