Dasho Tenzin Yonten is the present director and also the founder of the college. Royal Thimphu College is very much blessed to have such a profound and great innovative inspirational leader to have established the college. Myself as the undergraduate studying here in RTC, I am very much impressed by the way he is, the way he administers, the way he guides, the way he deals with all sorts of people and most importantly his diplomatic skills. So, I am really impressed by his address on 27th August 2010, when I was in my first month in my college days. So, I am very much interested to share his speech to my viewers:
“Good Morning and welcome to RTC’s first Annual Prize Awards Day ceremony, a very important occasion designed to honor those students who have demonstrated outstanding accomplishment in academics and leadership during the last academic year. This is a special event that brings me great pleasure because it recognizes exceptional achievement on the part of many RTC students.
Before we move to the honoring of those students by distribution of certificates and prizes, I would like to take a few minutes to reflect on the past year and to report to you on the college’s activities and achievements during that year, and on some of our plans for the forthcoming year.
As you all know, it was only about 13 months ago, in July 2009 that RTC opened as Bhutan’s first private University College in a celebration graced by Her Majesty the Royal Grandmother, His Excellency the Prime Minister, and other dignitaries. It took a lot of planning and effort to construct the various Phase I buildings, admit the 317 students, and to assemble a talented team of administrators, faculty and staff. So that day was one of great happiness and pride for the entire RTC community.
But, as I said on that occasion in my opening speech, “as we celebrate the opening of the campus and reflect on the many challenges we have overcome to get to this position, we remind ourselves that this is only the beginning. In many ways, the easy part (of constructing the campus) is over, and now we move on to the much more challenging task of building an institution that will truly inspire the nation“.
So, today, I will report to you on our institutional progress, a topic important to students as well as to all other members of the RTC community because all of us here have an important stake in the success of the college. Progress cannot be assessed unless you know where you want to go. For example, without an idea of where you want to go, you can walk many hours, but end up near where you started, having inadvertently wandered in a circle. So, let me start this report by reminding you of the vision that guides RTC’s work, the goals that RTC seeks to achieve – goals that are important enough to be posted in the college’s entry way right under the pictures of our country’s 5 kings.
That vision states, “RTC seeks to become an institution of academic excellence that sets inspiring standards for education by challenging its students to achieve their full potential and to become independent life-long learners who are well-rounded responsible citizens.”
So, my comments this morning will focus on the steps RTC has taken in the past year to move toward meeting this vision. In little more than the space of 12 months, RTC has opened its doors to over 600 students, 317 in the group who entered last July, and another 309 who arrived on campus earlier this month. We have taken many steps during the past year to begin to realize our goal of challenging you, our students, to reach your full potential and to become life-long learners and well-rounded responsible citizens.
First, because you can learn so much from talented and knowledgeable peers and because the reputation of a college ultimately depends on the quality of its graduates, we have undertaken many activities to make our student body as strong as possible. For example, we instituted a holistic admissions process that considers personal qualities and accomplishments in addition to exam grades. In addition, we went from enrolling one international student in 2009to having 9 international students from four countries currently on campus. We set up a scholarship program that recruited 7 students with truly outstanding academic records last year, and another group of 8 students with outstanding academic and sports records this year. In addition, we worked hard to get the government to provide scholarships for another 20 outstanding students this year. Overall, I am happy to report that the quality of students entering RTC continues to improve from year to year.
Second, we have literally searched the world to find faculty with the knowledge and skills necessary to most effectively foster your learning. We recruited 20 faculty from the US, Europe and Asia in the first year and an additional 15 faculty this summer, bringing the total faculty to 35 individuals from six countries, a group designed to broaden your perspectives and to prepare you well for the increasingly global nature of the world. In order to help our faculty to teach most successfully in an environment that is new to many of them, we have held extended faculty orientation programs in the weeks before the beginning of each year, as well as numerous faculty workshops focused on specific pedagogical issues throughout the past academic year.
Third, we strongly encourage faculty to provide you with activities and events that will broaden your experiences and develop skills necessary in the world of work, in addition to helping you master the subjects you are studying. Furthermore, the college provides them with the resources to do so. Thus, RTC faculty and students do not remain solely within the walls of their classrooms. Rather, RTC faculties give assignments like the research project that led to ethnography of a nearby village that expose students to the world outside of the college. Furthermore, they take students on field trips like the EVS field trips to a paper factory in Thimphu and to the Lingmuteychu Watershed in Wangdue. The Political Science and Sociology group observed the Special Session of the National Assembly last year, as well as attended an international conference in Paro where RTC students were able to ask questions and interact with distinguished delegates and media. Reserving this Friday morning hour for eminent speakers and other “all college” events is another way that RTC is trying to provide you with a range of experiences outside of the classroom to help expand your interests, experiences and skills.
The college seeks to challenge all of you to meet your full potential, an inspiring but difficult goal to accomplish because, by their very nature, challenges are difficult to meet. So although I can honestly say that the activities I have just described got RTC off to a very good start, it is also important to acknowledge that there have been some bumps on the road as we progress toward meeting the college’s vision. The most serious one was the substantial number of students who found the challenges posed by study at RTC more than they were able to meet. We instituted quite a few changes to try to deal with this problem. For example, we started a peer tutoring program, the learning resources center and other activities such as the pre-enrollment math workbooks made available this year to entering students whose college-level work requires substantial math skills. We also encouraged individual students to make needed changes as well, such as taking their work more seriously and devoting more time to their studies. In addition, we began notifying parents when academic problems appeared likely in the hope that parental intervention would help. These various efforts to improve the academic support available to you appeared to pay off, as the number of students passing all 5 modules increased from only 57% in the Fall semester to 71% in the Spring semester – a significant increase of about 25%.
There were other bumps in the road that impeded progress as well. Textbooks did not always arrive on time and the library is still a work in progress. Feedback from you and from faculty also suggested that last year’s advising system was not as effective as we had hoped, and that some changes in the RTC student codes of conduct would be helpful. We have worked hard to be responsive to such feedback. For example, the advising system was changed so that advisors are now faculty members in your program rather than outside it. We hope that such responsiveness will lead to RTC’s continually becoming an environment ever more conducive to facilitating personal and professional growth for all members of its community
Many of you met the major academic challenges posed by the transition from school to college very successfully. Indeed, shortly I will be giving certificates to those students who qualified for the Director’s List due to their outstanding academic achievements. My most sincere congratulations go out to all of them. But I also want to congratulate each and every one of you who worked hard and did your best, even if you did not end up on the Dean’s or Director’s Lists. Reaching your full potential is never easy, and those of you who made your best effort to learn and persisted in the face of difficulties also deserve great credit.
It is important to point out that the college’s vision is not only to prepare you academically for a productive and satisfying career, but also to prepare you to be a well-rounded responsible citizen who can contribute effectively to our emerging democracy. For that reason, RTC has strongly supported the emergence of a Student Government and student clubs, and the first Student Government was elected at the end of August last year with a student turnout of over 90%. We have supported the Student Government both organizationally and financially, by providing faculty advisors and a funding of about 320,000 Ngultrum last year, which has been raised to over 600,0000 Ngultrum this year because of the increase in enrollment. After the elections, the 11 elected members of the Student Government ratified and approved the Student Government Constitution on 6 October 2009. Soon after the formation of the Student Government, the college clubs were also formed. It took a while for these organizations to find their feet, but by the second semester they contributed very importantly to creating a vibrant community on campus. Clubs sponsored a trek to Phajoding in which about 60 students participated, campus cleanings, jam sessions, meditation sessions, debates, quizzes, extemporaneous speech contests, and French classes, as well as a whole series of sports activities covering football, basketball, volleyball, table tennis, badminton and others that were greatly enjoyed by many students. The student government also organized a very successful Sports Day on 15 May 2010 with the Education Minister as the chief guest, as well as a Blood Donation drive on 21 May 2010 in which about 120 members of the RTC community participated. In addition, in cooperation with the Culture Club, the Student Government also sponsored a wonderful Teachers’ Day concert and the first Annual RTC Concert, as well as the Welcome Concert for this years’ entering class.
All these activities provided important opportunities for personal growth and skill development for the students involved in them, as well as greatly enriching campus life for students, faculty and staff alike. So, I would like to congratulate and thank all those involved in initiating and implementing these and similar activities. You have contributed importantly to helping create an atmosphere on campus that led to several hundred students signing up for clubs at the club fair last week, something that will no doubt be productive and enjoyable for them individually as well as importantly contributing to campus life.
Today’s ceremony is an occasion to recognize students for outstanding achievement of various kinds in the past year. However, before moving on to that, I want to say a few short words about the academic year that is now underway.
We are off to a good start. Entering students are settling in with the help of the resident assistants, resident mentors, staff and older students. Returning students have made entering students welcome in many ways, ranging from simple offers of assistance in finding the book store or the academic blocks, to the lively and entertaining welcome concert held a couple of weekends ago. During this year we will continue to search for ways to recruit an ever stronger student body, including an increasing number of international students, and to maintain the college’s high academic standards, while recognizing that some students enter more prepared than others, and that each student has areas of relative strengths and weaknesses. We will also continue to search for ways to find and keep the increasing number of talented faculty that our increasing size requires. Having seen how useful feedback from students, faculty and staff can be, we will continue to solicit your input and to be responsive to it. We will also continue to examine our curriculum, to see how current modules and programs can be improved and what new programs we might want to add to our offerings.
I hope that you too, as students, have ambitious plans for the year that is just starting – that you will seek out ways to learn more, to develop your skills, and to contribute to the RTC community as those students being honored today have done. I hope that such efforts will not only be enjoyable, but will also help you to understand more fully your own strengths and weaknesses. This will help you find a path in life that makes satisfying and productive use of those strengths in the years after you have left RTC, so that you will be able to look back at your years here, and conclude that the college was truly able to give you the kind of inspiring education you deserve.
I will now end by congratulating all those who are being recognized here today, while at the same time urging the rest of you to also work hard so as to achieve such recognition in the future. Thank You & Tashi Delek!”
Source: Dasho Tenzin Yonten
Royal Thimphu College