New York

21 October 2014

Secretary-General's remarks at launch of the United Nations Academic Impact J. Michael Adams Conversation Series [As prepared for delivery]

I am delighted to welcome you all here.

Let me especially thank Mrs. Susan Adams for joining us as we launch this special event in the context of the UN’s 70th anniversary.

I deeply admired Dr. J. Michael Adams during his life, and I am honoured for this opportunity to launch a conversation series that will carry on his name in the future.

Dr. Adams forged deep ties between Farleigh Dickenson University and the United Nations.

He once said, “The only path to peace is education and dialogue. Tanks don’t work. That’s why we take so seriously our association with the United Nations.”

He was a pioneer in bringing academia and the UN together. As President of Fairleigh Dickinson, he enabled it to become the first university to receive consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.

Dr. Adams did more than bring his own university closer to the UN; he helped develop the UN Academic Impact – which is connecting the United Nations to universities around the world.

This initiative matches academic innovation with the UN’s mission to overcome the most pressing problems in our world.

  We are aiming to draw on the insights of professors, researchers and students to address challenges to peace, security, development and human dignity.

Dr. Adams was by my side when we launched UNAI. He had been a constant guide, from the time the UN first suggested the idea to the International Association of University Presidents in 2005, to its formal launch five years later.

Perhaps we were such close friends because we shared an unwavering conviction in the transformative power of education. Education was the engine that drove progress in my life and my country. That is why I am doing everything possible to champion education around the world.

I am committed to the success of the United Nations Academic Impact and my Global Education First initiative. In this effort, we have had many advocates. We were fortunate to welcome Malala Yousafzai to the United Nations on two occasions to rally the world for the right to education.

We lost Dr. Adams, but I am heartened that the United Nations will keep his spirit and memory alive through this series.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am confident Dr. Adams would have been proud of our choice for the first leader in this conversation series. 

Dr. Hayat Sindi is a pioneering academic and medical researcher from Saudi Arabia who became the first woman from her region to obtain a PhD in biotechnology.

The United Nations is proud to have Dr. Sindi serving as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

She shatters stereotypes. She inspires others, especially girls and women. And she is not satisfied with achieving excellence just for herself – she is also helping youth in her region and our world to realize their own enormous potential.

Dr. Sindi once said, “It makes sense that those who become qualified should spread their contributions where it is needed: to the less privileged.”

Let us be inspired by her spirit of human solidarity as we start this meaningful conversation series.

Thank you.