My name is Frank Islam, for whom the Frank Islam Athenaeum Symposia is named.
One of the reasons that I am delighted to be the benefactor of the Frank Islam Athenaeum Symposia is that I greatly believe that learning takes place both in the classroom and out of the classroom. I know that in building my successful business, I learned skills to achieve success and make a profit through both my academic course work and my experience in the business world.
Over the last four years, the Symposia has brought to you over 45 speakers, ranging from Jennifer Clement, author of Prayers for the Stolen, who was just nominated for the prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award and Ambassador Rasool from South Africa to Peter Edelman, author of So Rich, So Poor and Ambassador Rao from India.
I am certain that you have gained insights and knowledge and wisdom from these individuals and all of the Symposia presenters. In fact, these speakers may have changed your perspective on life or global issues.
These kinds of lectures are usually offered only at prestigious four-year universities, so I am proud to be able to be the patron of these talks so that you, community college students, can benefit from the types of grand discussions the ancient Greeks had in Athens about the meaning of life. Our Symposia here at Montgomery College cover even a broader range of topics than those addressed in Greece thousands of years ago including: discussions about the meaning of life today, universal questions about poverty, hope, gender inequality, economics, injustice, war, politics, the arts, the developing world, the erosion of the middle class, and peace resolutions. The Symposia may not provide answers for us, but they do make us think about finding the answers ourselves to make Montgomery County, the United States, and, if possible, the world—a better place.
Thus, I am proud to be a benefactor and a part of the Symposia because it offers so much to you and to our community.
I am also proud to introduce to you, Rita Kranidis, who is director of the Global Humanities Institute at Montgomery College and who has a few words to say about the value of tonight’s global discussion.