to Notre Dame University for another fruitful academic year. I hope this year will be as successful, to each one of you, as you expect it and want it to be.

Human elements such as students, faculty members, and staff, are all behind what makes a university an outstanding one. The mission of this university, ever since it was established, is to serve the student as a whole human being. In order to do that in the best way possible we have to engage ourselves with excellence, and commit ourselves to what excellence requires from each and every one of us.

As you all know Notre Dame University has started recently a collective academic development project. This project has several aspects and carries numerous phases. It is quite an ambitious one that expects from our faculty members to be exceptional scholars and extraordinary teachers. That’s why we are, right now, in the process of self evaluation, curriculum revision, bylaws and policy reconsideration and modification.

It is empirical and crucial to mention that all development projects might not be enough to reach excellence if the process of teaching and learning does not go parallel with the necessary human touch. A human touch should accompany any attempt for grasping, using, and creating knowledge. This could be summarized with one word: care. This key word is very well expressed through a popular motto that goes: “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Care is that slight difference between what is expected from you and what you may, and can, give in addition: give your students and your work a bit more than what is expected. Care is the difference between a “no objection” answer for a student request, and “I will do my best to answer your needs”, or “I don’t advise you to go that way; instead I recommend that you repeat that course or chose the equivalence”.

Expectations from teachers and researchers are not limited to transmitting the substance of a textbook to the student but stimulating his willingness to learn, and his eagerness to become skilled. It is not limited to conduct surveys and questionnaires and analyze results but to prove a hypothesis or discover a new fact or a piece of information, or to discuss an unknown thought in the works of a specific writer, or to try to compare “apples and oranges” the popular example of incomparable topics. The human touch in these examples, and the care you show your students, is summarized in the fact that you are able to give them a bit more, in fact much more, than what is expected.

With the support and contribution of all of you, students, faculty members, and staff, we shall strive to foster this spirit and try, altogether, to make a difference at NDU.

Ameen Albert Rihani, Ph.D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs