President David Sedney Addresses AUAF Community
Greetings and Salaam Alaikum to the AUAF family from our too-quiet campus in Kabul.
First, I want to stress how important it is for all of us --students, faculty, staff and administration-- to do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our families, to our neighbors, to Afghanistan, and to AUAF. From washing hands and wearing masks, to physical distancing, to disinfecting, and all other measures recommended by the public health authorities, we all must do everything we can to stop the spread of the virus. Please observe all Afghan Government directives and follow World Health Organization guidelines…Stay Home…Stay Safe!!
As AUAF settles into what is the ’new-normal’, the reports that I am hearing from both faculty and students about our on-going classes are overwhelmingly positive. Moving all of our classes on line was initially an experiment and a challenge, but now it is looking to be a major success. I am in awe of the extraordinary lengths to which our students are going to continue their educations. Thanks to all for your great work to make it so. Special thanks to the IT Department for its distribution of data packages to students and Afghan staff. The next tranche of those packages will be going out over the next day. We know that some people still have issues with connectivity, but what we are seeing is that AUAF’s great people are finding creative solutions to problems…Education does indeed Prevail!!!
The Afghan Government has continued the Kabul lock-down through May 9th and we will keep our campus closed until at least that date. Therefore it is clear that we will have to complete this Spring 2020 semester on-line. Therefore all faculty and students should be preparing for on-line exams and end-of-term papers and projects.
Although we do not know when AUAF will be able to physically re-open, we are going forward with our plans for the Summer and Fall 2020 sessions (whether they be in-person or on-line). We are actively recruiting new faculty, as we do each year, to further strengthen already strong departments and add exciting, new course opportunities.
With Summer registration now open, many of you are wondering will these be on-line classes, or on campus. Since none of us can predict the course of COVID-19 in Afghanistan, we are not able to say definitively which mode of delivery we will have available by June. What we can say is that there will be a broad range of summer classes to choose among, all offered at the continued high quality standards that are the hallmark of AUAF. We will announce by April 30, whether Summer Session I classes will be offered face-to-face, on-line, or a combination of the two. We recognize that you would like to have that answer before you register, but that is not possible in today’s world. Therefore, I encourage you to go ahead and register for those classes that you are interested in taking and plan to take them on-line.
We will make a similar, separate determination for Summer Session II with an announcement by June 1 whether we will need to continue with full on-line classes or will be able to re-open the physical campus, or some combination.
Some good news. As you know, financial aid has not been available for summer sessions. However, for this summer only, to help cope with the disruption from COVID-19, those on financial aid will be able to receive 50% financial aid for summer courses. Please check with the Dean of Students Office for further details. For those of you who are on non-US Embassy scholarships that do not cover summer sessions, you will have the opportunity to apply for summer session financial aid at the same 50% level. Please check with the Development Office (Development@auaf.edu.af) to confirm the status of your scholarship. There will be no new financial aid awards for dormitory or meals for the summer sessions. However, existing dormitory/meal financial aid awards will be extended into the summer session for those students on campus and currently receiving such awards.
Finally, a word about AUAF finances. I am sure a number of you have seen stories about other universities around the world facing financial difficulties. AUAF is no different, we are facing increased costs (such as the internet packages) and decreased revenues. We have also taken steps to lighten financial concerns such as our decision on removal of late fees from student payments due at the end of March. We are considering further measures for the future. However, as you all know, AUAF’s finances have always been a challenge. It costs AUAF well over $25,000 per student per year to provide the high quality of education that is our mission. Therefore, I call on all members of our AUAF community and our supporters in Afghanistan and around the world who can help in our hour of need to consider making a contribution to AUAF either directly (https://www.auaf.edu.af/giving/) or through the Friends of the American University of Afghanistan (https://friendsofauaf.org/donate/.
For our students, I have enjoyed seeing some of your posts on Facebook about what you miss about not being on campus. It seems a close contest between the Green, the library and Yummy’s, although it seems everyone misses the camaraderie of being part of our community. What I miss is not seeing you here, and I am very much looking forward to seeing AUAF return to the full learning environment that we all love.
And for the entire AUAF community, again please stay safe and I look forward to welcoming all of you back to our campus as soon as it is safe to do.
Best wishes to all,
David S. Sedney