Girne American University
30th Year Anniversary
By Margaret Sheard.
Photographs by Chris Elliott.
Friday 30th May was a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Girne American University and this was held at Le Chateau Lambousa Hotel in Lapta, which has been leased and tastefully refurbished by GAU and will be a premier 5-star hotel in North Cyprus.
Chris and I were delighted and honoured to be invited to join the celebrations and “light the torch together” to mark this very significant occasion. I have previously interviewed and written about Serhat Akpinar, the Founding Rector and Chancellor of the Board of Administrators, which was entitled “A Man with Vision” and the 30th anniversary proved that the vision is very much a reality. There are now 7 universities in 3 continents and around 200 protocols signed with universities throughout the world. I somehow think it will not end there, Serhat Bey will continue to expand his vision of higher education. To see the previous article (Serhat Akpinar – A Man with Vision) the link is shown at the end of this article.
We arrived at Le Chateau to find throngs of people on the terrace and around the new poolside area, there was a huge stage with a massive back screen which had been erected for the ceremony, speeches and the entertainment which was to follow later in the evening, the hotel looked magnificent as the sun set and the outside lights came on.
The occasion of the GAU 30th anniversary was honoured with the presence of TRNC President – Derviş Eroğlu, Speaker of the TRNC Assembly – Dr Sibel Siber and also the Turkish Ambassador – Halil İbrahim Akçaand there were many more dignitaries and present and former members of Parliament who had been invited to mark this very special occasion. There were many familiar faces from the University, Members of the Board of Administrators, Lecturers and Teachers as well as other guests who had been invited to join the celebration.
Soon the celebrations were underway with Vice Chancellor of the GAU Board – Olgun Üstünacting as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, there was a speech by Serhat Akpinar who referred to “The Future of Higher-education, Our Future and the Next 30 Years” followed by a speech by President Eroğlu and then Sibel Siber joined them on the stage to light the torch, a very poignant moment. There then followed the presentation of plaques to some of the former TRNC dignitaries and people associated with GAU.
We understand the ceremony was a live broadcast to other GAU universities and it was lovely to hear a message of congratulations coming from Washington DC, Hong Kong and England. There were television crews from BRT and ADA TV and many other media people to record the occasion.
Behind the large screen was the superb backdrop of Le Chateau Lambousa Hotel and on the screen during the evening there were many shots of activities at GAU and near the end there were congratulations from some of the former students.
Following the speeches and awards, the GAU Dance Academy performed a lovely dance, a minuet to the music of Handel, they wore costumes of the era which were very much in keeping with the surroundings. We were entertained by vocalists and then ENBE took the stage and proceeded to wow the guests with a very mixed repertoire of songs, old and new, in English and Turkish. During the evening, students from many countries paraded around the perimeter carrying their national flags, it was a lovely sight.
Later in the evening there was a spectacular firework display. The occasion was so well organised and I am sure everyone present was so pleased to have been invited to be part of this momentous anniversary celebration.
Having visited Le Chateau on many occasions since GAU started the refurbishment work, Chris has taken many photographs and written articles about the progress being made and now, on the occasion of the GAU 30th anniversary, we could see the result in all its splendour. John Aziz Kent, who built the hotel, was present at the event and I did wonder what might be going through his mind. As well as Chateau Lambousa, John also built the Celebrity Hotel at a time when it was virtually impossible to do so. We reflected on an article Chris had written about him and his vision as a young man after a night out with friends at the Baspinar Spring, and waking in the morning to look down at the vista before him and thinking “that is where I am going to build my hotel”. (see link at end of this article). In fact he built two hotels, and now looking down from the same spot you can see Le Chateau Lambousa and further on, at the edge of the Mediterranean, there is The Celebrity Hotel. Just like Serhat Bey, John had a vision.
The message which was transmitted from Washington DC indicated the success which has been achieved in the last 30 years and the question was asked – what can be expected in the next 30 years? For a man of vision like Serhat Akpinar I suspect there will be even more success in the field of higher education, not only in the TRNC but worldwide. Congratulations Serhat Bey – A Man with Vision.
To read other articles, see below
Serhat Akpinar – A Man with Vision – click here
Re-birth of the Kingdom of Lambousa – click here