Why USM Deserved the Win

It’s always good to know that my alma mater trumps the other more established university.

Yup, USM is granted apex [accelerated programme for excellence] status. What this means is, USM will now be on a fast-track programme to turn it into Malaysia’s first world-class university.

It’s a bit like telling a child that he’s gifted and better than the rest of his peers and now he can skip all the boring parts of primary school and get on with it in secondary school.

Which is of course, great for the kid! Imagine being handpicked to zoom through school and given all he needs (money, help, tools etc) to succeed.

This is really exciting news especially as USM prepares to celebrate its 40th birthday next year.

I for one am so chuffed – for Krista and I are both ex-students of USM (we graduated back in ’97 and ’98) and we have our business in the campus due to our working relationship with USM now.

This apex status heralds good beginnings for USM as it’s expected to “move up the World University Rankings with a target of top 200 in five years’ time and top 100, if not top 50, by 2020” according to the report in The Star.

It went on to report that “a selection committee headed by former Universiti Malaysia Sarawak vice-chancellor Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Mohamad Zawawi Ismail short-listed USM, UM, UKM and UPM.”

In short, excellence in all arenas are to be expected of USM now. Which I believe is always good.

As it is, USM is truly visionary, and I’m not just saying this because I am an alumnus of this university. The university is on its way to be a green campus (not just physically green but that’s great too – take a leaf from the green campus, UNIMAS! UNIMAS is unbearably hot as it has lots of concrete buildings and not much trees!).

Its recent White Coffin campaign put USM right on the top as an ecologically friendly university as the campaign worked to eliminate the use of the dreadful polystyrene food packs.

On campus, everyone uses the brown cardboard food pack for takeaways (each box is an extra RM0.20 on top of what one pays for the food). The better outcome of this campaign (banning all polystyrene) is that people actually bring along tiffin carriers to ta-pau food now. Besides, there’s the ongoing recycling campaign and the recycling bins which are now placed near Rumah Antarabangsa, near Bakti canteen and hostel.

I believe that such a status will plant the seed of pride and discipline to excel. I mean, if the university is not on the forefront of spreading good change, what is the point of all the heavily funded research and technology?

As it is, USM has a sizeable number of foreign students. Jian Ming, our ex-intern, came to the office for a chat on Tuesday and told us how she was surprised that a bunch of Chinese students (from China) stood up to sing their national anthem lustily during the screening of the live telecast of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony at Nasi Kandar Istimewa! If USM can attract foreign students from China (and Europe and Middle East too), it means USM can one day turn out to be like an Ivy League university in the States.

In case you don’t know, the USM Vice Chancellor, Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abd Razak who is not only quite the visionary but one who is able to speak his thoughts. You can find his writings which have appeared in The Edge and New Sunday Times. The VC used to be from the Poison Control Centre of USM, hence you can see that his other articles on toxic waste etc can be found too at the same page.

And on any given day, the university grounds do buzz with all sorts of activities and events. One just needs to keep a lookout for the banners which advertise these events which are usually free to the public and of course, undergraduates. There’s really no lack of learning opportunities.

Then there’s the libraries and the art gallery. The art gallery is a favourite haunt of Redbox Studio – we go to view the latest collection of art and to meet artists, new and old.

Anyway, congratulations USM! I’ve always been proud to be a USMer but this has added extra zing!

To USM’s excellence,
Nic

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