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Dear AUP Students and Parents,

Just a few days ago, we had extraordinary commencement exercises at the Theatre du Châtelet. The way in which each speech echoed all the others illustrated the remarkable community that the extended family of AUP students, faculty, staff, board, alumni, and parents comprise. It’s always a powerful moment for us and for our families in the grand theater that has been our home for the past five years. Vice President for Student Services, Marc Montheard, reads out 250 names that come from virtually every country on earth, never stumbling over a single one. Provost Scott Sprenger asks graduates how many languages they speak and this year a final student was left standing who spoke 6 different languages! This is AUP at its very finest. 
Amongst our exemplary honorary degree recipients were distinguished representatives of the fields of international business and social entrepreneurship, law, and human rights. Bertram (Bertie) Lubner, a South African businessman, social entrepreneur and philanthropist devoted himself for 25 years to building with local communities, the government, and the business community a support system for the rights, wellbeing, education, and development of children and youth in South Africa who benefited “from cradle to career.” In addition, Lubner expanded the work of what became a three-generation family organization in virtually every area touching upon human rights—particularly the social exclusion associated with disabilities and gender-based violence, HIV and the right to healthcare. Bertie Lubner’s son Marc and his granddaughter Takara Lubner ’14, who graduated with Departmental Honors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, received the award in his name. 
 
Associate Justice Stephen Breyer of the Supreme Court, who came to Paris on May 3 to receive his honorary doctorate and speak about his latest book, The Court and the World, because he couldn’t come when the Court was in session in late May, was “present” nonetheless by virtue of a video we made of him a few weeks before. Breyer defended our particular brand of the global liberal arts in fluent French, which we ran with English subtitles at Graduation. To be a person, he told the class of 2016, you need to read great literature, learn languages, and build friendships with people who live lives very different from your own.  You can see the video here.
Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, the most respected international organization bearing witness to human rights abuses worldwide and putting pressure on the international community to address them, gave the commencement address to the class of 2016, speaking of the loss in our world today of those values we cherish at AUP--respect for our differences, an ethic of care and concern for others, the importance of speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves. He also gave students practical hints as to how to honor those values in their daily lives. You can see our graduation ceremony and hear Ken Roth’s commencement address here.

I also want to tell you about a pilot course that AUP’s Provost, Scott Sprenger, and I taught this spring to volunteer juniors.  Part of a new “career curriculum” that will parallel general education and students’ work in their majors, it was an experiential course designed to help students begin thinking proactively about their choices after they graduate. Although we stole the title “Designing Your Life” from a Stanford University course, we emptied it of its content and created our own. In a series of four modules, we worked with students to tease out understand their own values and project themselves into their own futures. When your values crystallize, it’s easier to choose a major and see your courses at university as flowing from them intentionally. The second module, called “Design,” used design thinking to produce a deliberate path or plan for their university studies, one that is open to happenstance and new experiences, but that gets you thinking early about all the bases you need to cover in putting together your intellectual and extra-curricular trajectory at AUP. Students create their own unique “value proposition” at the end of this module, a statement of what they can bring to the world and to the workplaces to which they will bring value. The third module focuses on “Connections,” the people in their entourage—parents, teachers, friends, relatives, and many more people beyond those intimate circles—who will help them get to where they want to go. We talked about the importance of having a good LinkedIn profile, and how to network effectively. Finally, the last module is called “Storytelling.” While students manage to pull together the list of their credentials we call a resumé or a CV, they often leave college without having learned to tell a powerful story, or “elevator speech,” that synthesizes all the experiences—from study abroad to club leadership, from travel across cultures to discovering new
ideas in the classroom—that they have had at AUP. We particularly work with them to define the je ne sais quoi of an AUP education for a future employer or partner: how learning laterally amongst students of such vastly different backgrounds, studying in a place that is not “at home,” becoming a person who is “at home in the world” has changed them unalterably.  

What is rare about AUP is that a group of students can do this work in the sole presence of the University’s provost and president, who both feel passionately that this self-development work should precede and guide the choice of a major, and prepare a student’s first steps out into the world. We believe that an AUP education should both inspire you to become your best self and lead you to the door of a meaningful career. We would never measure meaningfulness by the salary earned, but by the measure of a graduate’s feeling of accomplishment and personal satisfaction about the work they do in the world.  Next fall, we will pilot a version for freshmen called “Designing your AUP,” and scale up the junior version so that we can reach more of our third-year students. Please talk to your parents, and to your child, about this work. We’d like to reach every one of our AUP students in the years ahead, giving them the benefit of this introspection and inquiry as they make their way through their life-changing studies here.  

Upgrading of AUP security continued apace this spring, during which we created new safety and emergency plans with the help of our local police and an outside consultant, and reviewed our own emergency procedures, alarm system, and communication systems.  Over the course of the summer and next fall, we’ll be rehearsing these measures with the entire faculty, staff, and student body. This summer most of the structural work will be accomplished—the creation of airlocks in front of our buildings, the installation of new turnstiles, and the securing of windows and garden spaces. By the fall, we’ll be premiering our new security app, of which I’ve written before. Each member of our community, by fall 2016, will have a security app on their smartphone with 24/7 monitoring services, even while students are off campus and traveling outside France. More on that in my summer newsletter. 

The US Embassy has issued another travel alert about upcoming large gatherings in Europe (the European Soccer Championships and the World Youth Day in Poland), urging the public to be careful at large assemblies such as those, and it has also warned about the concatenation of strikes in France this week and next (trains, air traffic controllers and pilots). This is a direct response to the French government’s announcement of reforms to labor law. Although disruptive to tourists and visitors, this is business as usual in France and likely to continue for some time, given recent events and worry about jobs and salaries in France. We keep students informed at all times about how to manage around events such as the soccer championships and the strikes.  Summer students should be little affected by either.  
 
Wishing each of you a restful and productive summer wherever in the world you might be! 

Warmest,

 


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The American University of Paris
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75007, Paris, France

www.aup.edu

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