Message from the new President & Vice-Chancellor of the Catholic University in Erbil (CUE)


Respectable academics and administrative staff
Dear students

It is my honour to address you, as the new and third president of CUE, and I do hope that all of you are staying well and safe in this unprecedented pandemic of COVID-19, which has plagued the entire world and caused a daunting turmoil socially and economically almost everywhere on this planet.

The Chair of the Board of Trustees of CUE, HG Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda, approached me for the position of president of CUE, and it is with immense pride and honour for me to accept this position. I am deeply humbled and I will do my best to justify the trust HG has invested in me. The paramount incentive being my deep and genuine desire to serve this relatively newly established university and also to serve our community and nation.

Serving a community in which I spent a major part of my life is an absolute pleasure indeed, and being involved in academia for a significant period of time (25 years), I just feel I am returning home! I have to say that I am truly excited to begin.

There is no doubt that we are living in a fiercely competitive and rapidly evolving world, affecting the higher education and scientific research process. This entails an extraordinary effort by any academic institution in order to keep pace with these rapid changes. In the case of CUE, these efforts need to be doubled, as the challenges are enormous and their sources are quite complicated as you may know.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep gratitude to my predecessors, Dr Salahaddin Kako and Dr Sabah Almaleh, for their work to develop and progress CUE and my pledge is to continue on what they have started in terms of plans and projects. There is no doubt that you would agree that presidents of universities cannot and will not be identical! Therefore, I may make mistakes like any human being, but I will always reflect and learn from them and I promise that I will work tirelessly on your behalf and I will listen affectionately to all your concerns, suggestions and approaches. The golden triangle of principles being: Honesty & Transparency + Logic & Pragmatism + Constructive & Conducive Dialogue.  I strongly believe that the teamwork/integration in principle is more productive and fruitful, therefore, I will do my best to ensure that our work at CUE is driven by full cooperation between the presidency, all academic and administrative staff. We will all work together as a team and by leveraging all our resources and considering certain factors surrounding CUE as an academic institution, efforts will not be spared to ensure that CUE will thrive and become recognized as the academic beacon in the region.

There must be a clear mandate, to meet the current needs of the society, in conjunction with obligatory demands due to rapidly changing approaches, priorities and needs, as these will be the direct determinants of the workforce in our society. Therefore, we will avoid advocating any new projects, which might stay stagnant or inert! CUE needs to create more academic relationships with national and international universities, let it be MOUs as a route for various mutual academic activities, or by encouraging the academic staff to take part in conferences and also through attaining membership of university’s consortiums and federations. CUE must invest in the community too, to share valuable ideas through informal meetings with members of the community, through which a friendship can be built to enable the academics to step outside their departments and have fruitful discussions with community’s intellectuals and listen to their valuable ideas and opinions.

Our planet is currently facing multiple challenges, which are impacting and threatening humanity on a global scale like never before. Challenges such as global warming and pollution, that has certainly worsened over the last couple of years, leading to natural disasters and frightening deforestation and extinction of millions of species of living organisms. Lastly and by no means the least, the disastrous pandemic of Covid-19.

CUE needs to introduce programs part of its future strategic plans to seek solutions to these serious issues concerning our society. As for teaching, CUE will evolve to the modern approaches and methods of teaching, including critical thinking, academic debate, interactive learning, dialogue and learning outcomes.

Major obstacles and daunting challenges are facing universities around the world nowadays, including widespread online education methods, financial problems, fierce global and local competition and serious lack of job opportunities. These are factors adversely affecting the desire of our youths, the next generation, to pursue their university-level education. CUE needs to find or adopt innovative ways to attract students to most desired disciplines and programs of studies.

I am almost certain that you are all eager to know what my plans will be during my tenure at UCE, which is quite understandable. What you can be sure of, is that I will bring certain approaches and new ideas to the table. However, I do need to spend some time at CUE to gather my thoughts and to get a sense of what is lacking at this academic institution and also to explore all its aspects and potentials, before spelling out any priorities. I will endeavour to help and enable CUE to take the necessary steps to gain significant progress to advance forward.

Dear students,

I would like to take this opportunity to pledge myself and to ensure that CUE provides you with a perfect atmosphere coupled with the provision of all necessary facilities to meet your expectations and to reach your full potential. I only want you to remember that by pursuing your education you are not only doing this for the sheer objective of finding a job following your graduation, rather you will be also acquiring wonderful knowledge to strengthen your personality, widen your horizon of thinking and reasoning and above all be proud of your achievement towards your family, relatives and friends. May I quote what the great English philosopher Francis Bacon wrote in the sixteenth century (in 1597), he wrote: “human knowledge and human power meet in one, for the cause is not known the effect can not be produced”. He also wrote; “knowledge itself is power”.

The doors of CUE are open and it remains accessible and affordable for students from all sects of our community, who can all flourish within a culture of trust, mutual respect, high pride and dignity, as CUE adopts the policy of welcoming warmly students from various backgrounds and faiths as it strongly believes that diversity is a source of our strength and not a source of division.

May peace, health and prosperity be with you in every step in your life.


President & Vice-Chancellor of CUE
Assist. Prof Dr Riadh Francis (B.Sc, PhD)