Professor M. Omar Rahman is an internationally renowned Demographer and Psychiatrist who is currently Vice Chancellor (VC) at Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB).He remains an adjunct Professor of Demography and Epidemiology at the Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health. In addition to being the VC of IUB, he is also the Professor of Demography, Dean of the School of Public Health and Executive Director of the Centre for Health, Population and Development. Prior to joining Independent University in 2003, Professor Rahman was Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Demography at Harvard University, and Research Fellow in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr Rahman completed his (A.B.) in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard in 1979, followed by his MD from Northwestern University Medical School in 1983. Subsequently he received his MPH in Health Policy and Management from Harvard in 1987 and his D.Sc. in Epidemiology also from Harvard University in 1990. Dr. Rahman trained in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and is a US board certified psychiatrist. He joined Faculty of Harvard University in 1996 in the Department of Global Health and Population. Professor Rahman is the author of several co-edited books, and multiple peer-reviewed article on health and population, international migration and higher education policy in the developing world. He has received numerous research grants from the U.S National Institutes of Health, WHO, and various U.N. agencies and has served as a consultant to various international organizations. His current research interests are: Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases in South Asia, health Policy with a particular focus on Mental Health in the Developing World, International Professional Migration, and Higher Education Policy and Practice in Developing Countries.
Professor Rahman is one of the sons of the soil who returned to Bangladesh with a dream, leaving behind an easy life. In his own words: “I returned with a dream of building a world class university in Bangladesh.”
In an interview recently, Professor Rahman shared his dream with daily sun.
How it all began?
“I was teaching at Harvard University when Professor Bazlul Mobin Chowdhury approached me. He told me that ‘there is no doubt that you are teaching at one of the top educational institutions of the world. However, would you like to build a world class university in Bangladesh?’ I knew that I will not get the same facilities here as in Harvard. He told me that I can create something new in Bangladesh. I realized that he truly meant what he was saying. So I returned to Bangladesh and joined him in establishing a world class university.”
Tell us about the vision of IUB
“There are not many universities from the developing countries in the list of world’s top ranking universities. So to me, building a top ranking university in Bangladesh is a challenge which I accepted when I returned to the country. The vision of IUB is simple: we want to create a top ranking university and produce top ranking students and global leaders.”
Tell us about your experience of IUB
“When I came to IUB, no one knew about the university. I thank the almighty Allah for giving me the opportunity to build a university brick by brick. The last 13 years have been very fruitful for me and I have enjoyed every minute of my stay at IUB. The feeling of building something from nothing is indeed a joyful experience.”
The students of IUB have been doing really well, tell us the secret
“A major objective of IUB is to disseminate new knowledge. We live in a global village. We prepare our students for the world stage. We provide our students with world class curriculum and infrastructure to this end.”
Tell us about the student welfare programmes of IUB
“At IUB, there has never been a case where a student was unable to continue his studies due to financial crisis. We take good care of our students. They are the next generation leaders and it is our duty to make sure that our future leaders receive a good education.”
Public university VS private university, what is your opinion?
“We often see reports in the media where students are categorized based on their educational background. This should not be case. In reality, the majority of the students of our country are studying at different private universities today. Private universities are playing a vital role in educating the majority of the future generation. Therefore, private universities are playing a crucial role in taking the nation forward.”
Education at IUB
“IUB believes in creating the future leaders. We, as an educational institution, never compromise when it comes to the quality of education. The university curriculum and courses of study are progressively revised and adjusted on the basis of their relevance to national needs and the global market demand. To us, education comes first. The quality of education is maintained in cooperation with renowned universities overseas. At IUB, we have pure physics and mathematics, which is rare in any other private university; as such subjects do not attract many students. But we have introduced these subjects for the sake of spreading knowledge. We also do not take in excess number of students to make sure that our students can enjoy a good atmosphere in their classrooms. IUB is blessed to have a very strong faculty. Academic excellence is crucially depended on the quality of the teachers. We produce graduates who are well taught in the liberal arts. At IUB, we teach students to be human beings first. We have a programme under which students spend some days in villages. By taking part in such programmes, they get the opportunity to know our motherland personally.”
“Our goal is to become the best educational institution in the country first and in the region next. We will continue our journey towards our goal. At the same time, we will focus on research and will progress with each success.”