The 2015-2016 academic year at UNIFA has seen tremendous growth. University enrollment at the start of 2015-2016 was approximately 1600 students. Students admitted in fall 2015 students were drawn from a pool of 1175 applicants, 63% of whom were young women. The highest concentration of applications was in the School of Medicine, followed by the School of Nursing, School of Physical Therapy, and School of Law. In addition, UNIFA launched a new pre-college prepatory program for students who showed great academic promise, but who were not able to gain admission to the University. This program is designed to make good on UNIFA’s promise of serving all Haitians, by creating a pathway to a University education for young people whose high school education has not given them a strong enough academic basis to begin University level courses. A small group of students were also recruited this year to do coursework to prepare them to enter UNIFA’s first class in the new School of Engineering.
The year began with a University wide convocation in October of 2015. Speakers at the 2015-2016 convocation included Mildred Trouillot Aristide, Member of the Council of Administration, Dr. Dina Vital of the Continuing Education Program, Dr. Dodley Severe, Member of the Rectorate and Faculty Member in the School of Medicine, Dr. Michaele Amédée Gédéon, Dean of the Medical Faculty; Fabrice Fievre, Co-Dean of the School of Law; and Chrystel Woel de Delva was the master of ceremonies.
The Convocation Keynote speaker was Professor Erin Daly who joined UNIFA this year as the new the Vice President for Institutional Development.
Here are some excerpts from her from Keynote Address:
…UNIFA is unique not only because of its campus, but in its vision for the future. You have already seen the work that has been done here in the last few years. In the months and years ahead, you will see even more. I promise you. You’ll see the construction of more classes, more laboratories, more spaces to study and work, and additional schools.
But UNIFA is not an island. You are not isolated here, but linked — tied to the communities that you come from, to your surroundings here in Tabarre, and to other educational and professional institutions around the country — to hospitals (where you do your internships), to legal professional organizations, to many different places here and, increasingly, abroad — with professors who come here to teach and to participate in conferences. Moreover, you’re linked through technology to faculty and researchers potentially throughout the world.
And it’s this vision, this ambition, this capacity for growth, to always get better that makes UNIFA such a special place. There’s a momentum here, an energy, a dedication to the art of the possible, that you don’t see that often, either here or in other countries.
This is a place that is unique in another sense as well. It’s the only institution that I know of that is founded on the idea of human dignity. It’s inscribed in the sign that stands just outside. « Si n pa sove diyite n, diyite n ap sove kite n. » If we don’t safeguard our dignity, we will lose it. It’s an idea that is very simple, but very important. An idea that, for you, is not at all new. …
In Haiti, the best reference is in the phrase “tout moun se moun.” But what does this mean? You already know. Each person is a person. That is, each person has value, and each person’s value or worth is the same. The equal worth of each person, everywhere in the world. It’s important, but it’s not just an abstract principle or idea. It’s not just a philosophical principle. In judicial opinions, it’s linked to the full development of the personality, to each person’s ability to realize his or her potential, to become all that one can. And they say, in these legal opinions, that each person has the same right to develop his or her personality as every other person.
So dignity is the essential element that permits us to develop, to grow. It’s not a thing, like a jewel or something we keep inside a safe. We don’t say, “I have my dignity, now that’s done!” Dignity is always a work in progress, as we seek to develop our talents, our intellectual capacity, our spirit; to learn what we are capable of. And to develop just as much as any other person. That’s why we always need to safeguard our dignity — because we don’t ever want to lose the ability to grow.
And that’s also why the idea of human dignity is at the heart of this university. The administration here has confidence not only in who you are, but in what you will become — as students, as professionals, and as participants and contributors to civil society, throughout this wonderful country of yours.
St. Trinity Orchestra opened the ceremony with the National Anthem, then offered students, faculty, administration and guests a selection of classic Haitian music.
At the convocation, along side our national flag, we raised the blue and white flag of our University. A dove, wings open, lifted by a hand, ready for flight. This flag symbolizes UNIFA’s commitment, forever open and ready to welcome professors, students, researchers and friends engaged to support the development of this university community where, in unison we declare:
Education without exclusion.