The first students at the ABTI-American University of Nigeria will begin taking classes today in Yola, Nigeria. The inaugural class includes 150 students from Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana and other West African countries as well as Zambia and the United States.
Lectures will begin in the three founding schools, Arts and Sciences, Entrepreneurship and Business Management and Information Technology and Communications.
As part of its five-year “Management Consultancy Agreement,” AU has been working for the last eighteen months to recruit the entire senior management team and faculty of the university, oversee the development of the curriculum and advise on the construction of the campus.
“It is astonishing that in just 18 months, the university has gone from a vision by its founder, Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar, to a reality,” said Robert Pastor, vice president of international affairs at AU.
Abubakar, vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a leading businessman, joined with other Nigerian businessmen to found the private university. Their goal is to use the university to stimulate a knowledge-based economy in northeast Nigeria, according to an AU press release.
Jennifer Abubakar, the vice president’s wife, is a PhD student in AU’s School of International Service and was instrumental in helping the two universities to work together.
The classrooms of the Nigerian university are wireless and outfitted with data projectors, and each student received a free laptop Internet access.
During the university’s fall and spring semesters, all students will take general education courses, including chemistry and physical science, information technology, writing, statistics and African and world civilization.
Students will also take a yearlong course in entrepreneurship designed by Dr. Ahmad Hosseini, dean of the Business School, and former dean of business at Sonoma State in California.
“Our students will be the best entrepreneurs in Nigeria when they have completed our freshmen course,” Hosseini said.
The university offers degrees in the Schools of Entrepreneurship and Business Management, Arts and Sciences and Information Technology and Communication. In five years, the University plans to have 2,000 students, which will double during the subsequent five-year period as new schools begin in Law and Engineering.
The university is the second overseas school AU has helped develop. In 1997, AU helped launch American University-Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, which now enrolls 3,500 students.
“We are fortunate to be working with such an exciting experiment, which will benefit American University in many ways,” said Louis Goodman, dean of SIS. “We expect that both students and faculty will be exchanged, just as is now the case with the American University of Sharjah.”