In the midst of Canada's Sheridan Institute of Technology's (with current enrollment of around 38,000 students), celebration of her 50th founding anniversary, for the first time ever, a book, by the name of "Transforming Lives at Sheridan: A Tribute to Dr. Mozammel Khan", is being published honouring one of its Professors.
The Professor is no other than Mozammel Khan, a native of Bangladesh, who with a Ph. D. degree in Engineering from one of the top-notch Universities of the United States, came to Sheridan some 23 years ago.All proceeds from the sale of this book will be for the 'Mozammel Khan Scholarship Foundation' established by Sheridan. A scholarship which will be awarded to one Quality Assurance student annually.
In addition to the inputs of more than 60 graduates sharing their stories (the stories which make him emotional) of how the Program he created,Quality Assurance Manufacturing and Management (Post Graduate), some 20 years ago,has changed their lives in Canada. A few dignitaries of Sheridan, including the Forward from Sheridan's former President and Vice Chancellor, the Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology and the President of Sheridan's Faculty Union, Prof. Jack Urowitz, and a few leaders of Professional organizations in Canada have contributed to the Book.
Mozammel Khan, Freedom fighter, professor, journalist, Academic Freedom fighter, student advocate, Senate Speaker, these are all manifestations of the same man and his staying true to a love of freedom and belief in the ultimate good of humanity.Mozammel has never lost the spirit that saw him through the fight for freedom in his native land. I got to know Professor Khan in my role as Faculty Union President. I also know him in as a journalist/author and a Bangladeshi community leader.
Mozammel never brought his political life into the classroom. He is an Engineering Professor. His only transgression was being identified biographically in his book and articles as a Sheridan Professor. The arguments Mozammel and I presented were the first forays into the fight for Academic Freedom for Sheridan Faculty. I am not sure if those earlier battles were part of his motivation to become the Speaker of the Senate. But I am glad that it is he with the Speaker's Gavel. We have a speaker who fought in theBangladesh War of Independence.
We are contemporaries, but our early lives could not have been more different. As a Canadian, born and raised in a time of peace and prosperity, the parallels between my young adult life and Mozammel's are eye opening. I awoke to the genocide occurring in the then East Pakistan by George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh. Me, a popular culture acolyte, eating popcorn in the Uptown Theatre watching a dream concert, and Mozammel having just lived a nightmare, with his countrymen's youth smoldering in ruins, he in military uniform fresh from a war fighting against a genocide of millions. The difference then could not be any starker. It is the miracle of Canada, that we are colleagues promoting education and cultural coexistence.
Even today the exact numbers of slaughtered are unknown but all non-partisan estimates are in the millions. Bangladesh is still a successful national experiment where many different religions co-exist, mostly peacefully. It is spokespeople and activists like Mozammel Khan that keep the dream of a multi-belief-coexistent culture alive. Mozammel's fight for peaceful coexistence in Bangladesh is everyone's fight in a world lacking peace. Bangladesh is a microcosm of the world in its dream of religious coexistence, just as is Canada a successful mosaic of complementary cultures. Prof Khan personifies them both.
The writer is a Professor and the President of Faculty Union, Sheridan Institute of Technology, Ontario, Canada
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