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GRAD2“….To IUGB our beloved University, we thank President TOURÉ and his team for opening a window of the Ivorian dream here in Bassam. A window that is growing year after year to become a door…” Mr. Kouakou Donatien ADOU, IUGB Class of 2015.

The above words eloquently speak to the vision, impact and important role of International University of Grand-Bassam and its historic first graduation ceremony held on Monday, July 27, 2015. The 400-seat auditorium of N’sa Hotel in Grand Bassam was filled to capacity with guests, parents and friends of the graduates.

The ceremony started with a parade of students holding flags of the nineteen countries represented by students at IUGB. These countries are: Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Benin, USA, Togo, France, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Gabon, Ghana, Chad, and the Netherlands. The audience was then entertained cultural music and dance, performed by “Le Ballet National” of Côte d’Ivoire.

IUGB President Professor Saliou TOURÉ welcomed the guests, presented the University to the attendees, and addressed the graduating students and wished them success stating:

“Dear future graduates, you will leave IUGB today, but only physically. Your names will remain engraved forever in our hearts and in this University which remains yours. I hope that you leave, upon taking the oath, to serve your country, Africa and the world. Thus affirming your willingness to contribute to the emergence and the development of your country, in accordance with the motto of the IUGB; namely, “Excellence, Accountability and Opportunity”. Looking forward to your brilliant future, I wish you complete success in your future endeavors.”

GRAD5The Honorable Daniel Kablan DUNCAN, Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire was the guest of honor and keynote Speaker for the Ceremony. In his inspiring remarks, He spoke of the importance attached to higher education by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, under the leadership of His Excellency President Alassane OUATTARA. The Prime Minister said in part:

“As I look at you, I see in you a dream that has turned into reality. Just a decade ago, IUGB existed only in the minds of some visionary individuals who were committed to set up a high-quality university that will benefit Africa’s youth. Today these same individuals are witnessing IUGB’s first graduates receive IUGB Bachelor Degree Diplomas… I would like to thank and reiterate my congratulations to all the actors of this success story and wish a bright future to our pioneering young graduates. They are and will be well prepared to contribute to building a competitive Côte d’Ivoire that is ready to face the challenges of the future and become “an emerging country on the 2020 horizon”.

In his remarks, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Honorable Gnamien KONAN, called for a new management paradigm to improve the university system in Côte d’Ivoire. Some parents, who are able to pay, need to contribute to the education of their children. The private sector should also contribute to the training of its future employees. It is hoped that this three-model system, public, public-private-partnership, private, will help the country move away from the “mass production of university graduates”, and instead enable higher education institutions to deliver quality graduates that are more employable. He then praised the way IUGB is managed and the opportunities it offers to its students for their professional and personal development. He ended his address by congratulating the graduates and wishing them excellent careers.

The four graduating students and the twenty-three IUGB alumni who finished bachelor and master degree programs in the US received diplomas and certificates of recognition, respectively. Alumnus, Mr. Brice ESSO, now a professional artist, offered the following remarks:

GRAD3“…IUGB for me was a point that magnified my aspirations and equipped me to take a journey toward them. In this rather small locality that is the Grand-Bassam is hidden a jewel. IUGB is more than a place where you go to receive a good education. It is a place where you prepare yourself to face the realities of the world”.

Mr. Brice ESSO presented a gift to the University President for the Prime Minister. His Excellence unveiled a nice painting that represents the beginning of Brice ESSO as an artist. The original work is a photographic portrait that in 2012 was selected as “photo of the day” by the fashion magazine Vogue.

Speaking on behalf of the four IUGB graduates, Mr. Kouakou Donatien ADOU said:

“In reality, many young Africans cannot dream because the situation is too opaque for them to have a little hope for a better future. But we, the first IUGB graduating class, we have today the opportunity to dream, and to pursue our dreams. All this, thanks to our parents and sponsors. It is the opportunity for us to solemnly thank our parents for giving us the opportunity to dream and believe in a better future. They believed in us, and invested in our future. We can assure them that they did not make the wrong choice.”

The ceremony ended with a photo session with the graduates and Alumni, speakers, dignitaries including the U.S. Ambassador, and University officials.