AUN backs Russian linguists’ study of Adamawa tongues

AUN Pix 2013 600Three scholars from St. Petersburg State University, Russia, have presented their preliminary findings in a research on languages and literature common to the ethnic groups of Adamawa State. The Russian expedition to Yola comprises Professor Alexander Zheltov, Associate Professor Anastasia Lyakhovich, and a final-year student, Lora Litvinova. The team has been here for three years.

This Russian inquiry into the Adamawa languages of Mumuye, Yadang, Waka, and Gengle was prompted by the need felt at St. Petersburg to document some languages spoken in Adamawa that were yet to be captured and documented. This led to investigation into, and classification of, those languages in groups. Professor Zheltov, leader of the expedition, described these isolated languages as belonging to a “hypothetical Adamawa language family.” This group is called “Adamawa-Ubangi” and comprises close to 25 native tongues.

At the presentation of findings on Friday, February 7, Zheltov said the methods used in the research included phonetics analysis with speech analyzer, vocabulary lists of various sizes, thematic vocabularies, sociolinguistic questionnaire, and preliminary grammar questionnaire. The team found, among other things, a “lack of grammatical descriptions and wordlists for many languages,” and that “typological comparison” sometimes may contradict genetic comparison in languages,” notably, in ditransitive construct in Waka, Yendang, Maya, and Nyong languages. They found that plural forms in Nyong language, for instance, could have two suffixes, and that there existed no fixed connection for the gender of speaker in communication.

Also, the team gave an account of the existence of a “special social connection between the first-born son and family, and his maternal lineage” in Nyong, Maya, Gengle, and Kagama languages. Zheltov appreciated AUN for its unstinting support for the expedition, and noted that ever since, “AUN has continued to support us.”

Dr Anastasia Lyakhovich and final year student Lora Litvinova spoke about their experiences in researching this hypothetical group of languages. “As a member of the expedition, I work on description and analysis of African languages. And what does it mean to work with languages? It is quite complicated…thanks to you, our result produced good outcomes of quality,” said Dr. Lyakhovich. Ms. Litvinova, who is visiting Africa for the first time, was glad to join the expedition. “The expedition gave me an opportunity to put my linguistic knowledge to practice …thanks to AUN for the opportunity to know, research, and contribute, and open the mind.”

The team donated a book on the Russian city of St. Petersburg to the AUN library in appreciation of its support for the expedition.

Dean of SAS, Dr. Idorenyin Akpan commended the team for the work on Adamawa languages. “We always look forward to the visit of our Russian colleagues. Their work in linguistics is a great contribution not only to Adamawa but to Nigeria and we are very pleased to host them each year.”

..AUN Advances To Regional Finals Of Fifth Annual Hult Prize

Top-tier schools go head-to-head in world’s largest student competition, competing for $1 million in start-up funding to solve President Clinton’s Healthcare Challenge

Yola, Adamawa (February 23, 2014): The American University of Nigeria has advanced to the regional finals of the Fifth annual Hult Prize. The winners will receive US$1,000,000. The Hult Prize is the world’s largest student competition for social good. This year there were more than 4,000 applications from which the AUN team emerged among the best 400 and were offered a place to compete.

“Part of what qualified us, said AUN President Margee Ensign, “is our university’s development mission and commitment to fostering development in our region and the continent, together with the students’ strong, longstanding record of academic excellence and community engagement. We were actually the only Nigerian university to qualify for the competition.”

An instructor in the AUN School of Business & Entrepreneurship, Fardeen Dodo, who is accompanying the participating students to Dubai, said the competition will enrich their college experience. “Besides the competition, students will benefit from several workshops, networking, and entrepreneurial learning events run by a number of professionals and trail-blazing global experts, including Stuart Fleming of Enviroserve, Garett Awad of the Scholl Centre of Entrepreneurship, Ali Edrissi of JP Morgan (UK), and Khaled Gazawi, the CEO of Grameen-Jameel.” Also on the support team are other members of the AUN Community, especially from AUN Clinic, Students’ Affairs, and Sustainability office.

The instructor has been providing mentorship, coaching, and technical and strategic support in all aspects of the team of three. The trio comprises Blessing Douglas (Rivers State), Lucy Okonkwo (Lagos), and Aliyu Ahmed (Adamawa).

On the significance of the competition to AUN, being a Development University, Dodo said it is a “demonstration of how far our students are ready to go, to action up our vision of development and commitment to addressing the longstanding social challenges that confront Nigeria and Africa at large.”

In partnership with President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative, the innovative program aims to solve the planet’s most pressing challenges. Student teams compete in six cities around the world for a chance to secure US$ 1 million in start-up funding to launch a sustainable social venture.

The 2014 Hult Prize will focus on the 250 million slum dwellers around the world suffering from chronic diseases and who need help – a challenge personally selected by President Bill Clinton. Ahmad Ashkar, CEO and Founder of the Hult Prize, explained its purpose: “We are giving entrepreneurs from around the world a platform to innovate and revolutionize the way we think about servicing the poor.”

Each team selected was chosen from more than 350 colleges and universities in over 150 countries. The Hult Prize regional competitions will take place on March 7 and 8, 2014, in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai, Shanghai, and Sao Paulo. The American University of Nigeria will compete in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Following the regional finals, one winning team from each host city will move into a summer business incubator, where participants will receive mentorship, advisory, and strategic planning training as they create prototypes and set-up to launch their new social business. A final round of competition will be hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative at its annual meeting in September this year, where CGI delegates will select a winning team, and the prize to be awarded by President Bill Clinton himself.

The President has said, “The Hult Prize is a wonderful example of the creative cooperation needed to build a world with shared opportunity, shared responsibility, and shared prosperity, and each year I look forward to seeing the many outstanding ideas the competition produces.”

The American University of Nigeria, Africa’s first Development University, was established in 2003 by Nigeria’s former Vice President, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar. Offering an American-style curriculum, AUN is Nigeria’s first wireless residential campus. All students participate in community development projects as they prepare to assume leadership in their chosen careers.

About the Hult Prize

The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for budding social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities. Named as one of the top five ideas changing the world by President Bill Clinton and Time magazine, the annual competition for the Hult Prize aims to identify and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people. Winners receive US$1 million in seed capital, as well as mentorship and advice from the international community. To learn more, visit

.. AUN To Open Award-Winning Library

Largest E-Book Library in Africa Won American Library Association’s 2013 Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects

Yola, Adamawa, Nigeria (February 23, 2014) – The American University of Nigeria (AUN), winner of one of three international awards given out by the American Library Association (ALA) last year for Innovative International Library Projects, has announced that its new bricks-and-mortar “smart” library will open in May 2014.

“While the new library will not be the world’s biggest university library, it will be among the smartest,” said Dr. Margee Ensign, president of AUN. “Here in Nigeria, we cannot just focus on traditional education. To make education accessible and less expensive, it has to be about technology.”

AUN is leading the movement toward digital libraries around the world. In selecting AUN for its Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects, the ALA pointed to AUN’s creation of a “digital library model for other libraries that is affordable, sustainable, and increases availability of resources for users.” At 210,000 e-books and e-journals, accessed using tablets, e-readers and other devices, and available to students and faculty 24/7 regardless of location, AUN’s e-book collection is not only Africa’s largest, but also significantly larger than that held by most universities in America.

The University Librarian Amed Demirhan said, “The new home for AUN library will advance the application of information technology to organizational structure, space and collection.” Mr. Demirhan, who started the first digital library in the University of Kurdistan, Iraq, explains that AUN’s “smart library is basically like a smart phone. It’s multi-functional, efficient, has more services, and because it deals with e-resources, it doesn’t require as much space. Instead, we have space to add more services that were once taken up by hardcopy books, resulting in greater efficiency and effectiveness.”

AUN provides all of its students with laptops or tablets, campus-wide, wireless, and round-the-clock access and electricity. Incorporating technology and innovation to the library’s structure, space and collection, AUN’s new library is designed to support their digital e-library, from the staff to the furniture. The innovative new building will have less traditional seating, replacing stationary tables with more comfortable chairs to accommodate mobile users. Even the library staff structure has been transformed to complement the pivot to a smart digital library. For example, the serial coordinator position has been removed as AUN subscribes to publications online whenever possible.

AUN is a recognized global pioneer in electronic education, championing e-learning as a model for higher education in the developing world that controls costs, while creating greater access to resources for the wider community. AUN’s communities already benefit from the smart library, which has been actively collecting and encouraging the use of open access resources. In 2012, the library trained 147 faculty and administrative staff from the Federal College of Education in Yola and 20 faculty members from Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola. The transition to a digital library furthers AUN’s stated community development mission by promoting open access resource use, institutional collaboration, and outreach throughout the region and nation. AUN believes that open access to resources is the best investment for expansion of global education and development.

“Nigeria is the fastest growing country in the world, with population doubling every 30 to 35 years. With such fast rates of population growth, technology will be crucial meeting the need to educate and train Nigeria’s youth. Education is the key to helping people provide for themselves and their families. It’s the key to making Nigeria and the world a better place. We’re already seeing the results of our e-learning in our students and graduates. AUN’s new smart library will advance learning faster throughout our nation and the continent as a whole,” stated Dr. Ensign.

AUN’s innovative new library will open in May to serve as a model of how innovation and technology make learning affordable, sustainable, efficient, and more accessible.

The American University of Nigeria was established in 2003 by Nigeria’s former Vice President, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar. Conceived as Africa’s first Development University, its mission is to promote service learning and to educate leaders who will be prepared to tackle the development issues of Nigeria and Africa. The University offers an American-style education modeled after the curriculum of American universities, using the latest in Internet technology and e-learning resources.

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