The Asian University for Women: A Special Cause
A friend of mine introduced me to The Asian University for Women (A.U.W.) recently and I was very moved by what I learned of the organization. It’s located in Chittagong, Bangladesh, south of Dhaka near the Bay of Bengal. The founder and acting vice chancellor is Kamal Ahmad, and from what I understand from my friend and further reading, he is quite a special guy. Mr. Ahmad and his team have assembled an impressive group of administrators, teaching faculty, advisors and supporters. You can check them out via the links at the bottom of this post.
The university is geared toward educating young women from throughout Asia, many of whom come from socioeconomic circumstances that would otherwise likely preclude them from accessing such quality education. This year (academic year of 2010-2011) students represent 13 Asian countries. Some of the background stories of the young women attending are quite moving. While the school is not free, a full 75% of students in the “Access Academy” (preparatory) are provided full-funding, and others are provided aid based on need. This assistance continues as the students continue their education through graduation.
Guest lecturers from Harvard, Stanford, and other respected institutions speak at the A.U.W., as do experts in various professional fields from around the world. The diversity of material covered and quality of the participants is impressive.
Here’s a brief video which provides an introductory overview of the university:
The school has been operating in rented facilities, but construction of a new campus designed by Moshe Safdie is to begin very soon. There is information and an artist's rendering on their website. (Edit: I linked to a video of Mr. Safdie explaining his vision of the new campus in the comments here.)
Offices for the A.U.W. Support Foundation are located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. The chairman of the foundation is Jack Meyer, who has a significant background in money management on a large scale—another example of the quality of the team behind the A.U.W.
Here are some links to pages on the A.U.W. website (one can read annual reports and other materials by drilling deeper on the site):
First, a link to a brief introduction to The Asian University for Women, in PDF form.
The purpose of posting this is that I hope it helps (in some small way) to expose the A.U.W. to more people. Perhaps you too will be moved by the cause and think of some way to have a positive influence on it—whether giving through direct donation, or presenting it to someone else who can make a donation or sponsor a scholarship. Supporting the university can be done in several ways, and depending on one’s location and circumstances, donations may be tax deductible. Here’s a link to information on their site about such support.
UPDATE: The A.U.W. hosted an international symposium January 20th through 22nd, 2011, in Bangladesh. Ms. Marina Mahathir has published an article outlining many of the happenings from that event. There was also a groundbreaking ceremony at the new campus site at Chittagong. Check out Marina’s blog for her post about the progress she sees at the A.U.W.
Related Post: Cherie Blair Assumes Roll as Chancellor of A.U.W.