Susanna Karakhanyan farewell address

To my INQAAHE family and my colleagues, far and wide,

As I step down as President of INQAAHE, I have been reflecting, on my last ten years of proactive engagement with INQAAHE and around six of them as INQAAHE President. For the last decade with INQAAHE, starting with my role as a co-opted member, I paved my path up to Vice-President position and then elected President for two terms. Actually, it was an honor to be elected by the GA, thus becoming the last President of INQAAHE elected by the GA due to the changes in the Constitution we made to enhance sustainability of the organization. But I would say running for President’s position was one of the toughest and most rewarding experiences I have had. Toughest, since you have to convince diversity of cultural groups globally in your candidacy. Most rewarding since it gave me an opportunity to learn from and bond with each and every member as I spent long hours meeting with each and every one of you trying to understand your needs to better serve you. My words would definitely fail to thank you all enough for supporting me and entrusting this most responsible role.
How did it start? It was in Madrid, in 2011, when Iring Wasser, CEO of ASIIN, a German accreditation body, approached me and asked about my willingness to join the INQAAHE Board as a co-opted member. Of course, I was thrilled of the opportunity, primarily being impressed by the role, positioning, and the impact of the Network and especially the Presidents and Board members then and most importantly the match with the passion of my life – educational entrepreneurship and leadership.
While I was well versed in higher education policymaking, governance, regulations, and quality assurance and had learned, researched and worked in diverse contexts globally, my engagement with INQAAHE opened a whole new reality to me, which required absolute commitment, and passion to discern, own and thus authentically lead and contribute. And, it is due to this very attitude and dedication, which was peculiar to my predecessors as well, that INQAAHE came into being back in 1991 and has been able to find its due place in the global HE arena. INQAAHE exists due to the unconditional devotion of all its members, the INQAAHE Presidents, Board members, Secretaries who had the same cause at heart – quality and quality assurance. It is this expertise and creativity over the decades that have allowed INQAAHE to continuously evolve in response to the changing needs of the world in higher education quality and its assurance. I am confident this will continue and take new turns with the incoming new President, thus taking INQAAHE to newer heights.
Truly, it has been the privilege of a lifetime to lead this great Network. I saw my role as many-fold: inspiring and leading the work of the INQAAHE’s Board; directly working with and for the members; caring for the organizational sustainability in longer terms; lobbying for the regions underserved by QA services; encouraging as well as initiating developments in the field of quality assurance – the main purpose being to leave the Network stronger than when I stepped in.
The road since 2011 has not always been smooth and easy. Together we experienced major organizational change, stood together in disruptive moments, grieved the death of some of our beloved colleagues, worried about the financial future and sustainability and surely celebrated achievements, which outweighed the challenges in their scope. Undoubtedly we accomplished a tremendous amount together, strengthened our contribution to the global tertiary education community, and today offer a wider than ever set of support and benefits to our members, all while staying focused on our mission, values and principles.
Serving the global QA community has been one of the most rewarding roles in my life so far. I absolutely enjoyed spending time with each and every member of INQAAHE, our strategic partners and HE community at large trying to get deeper insights on the state of affairs and come up with solutions to support each and every one of you. As President, I invested a lot to ensure that INQAAHE’s functional and operational sustainability —key to it being flexible, responsive and effective—remains intact. By strengthening collaborations with our strategic partners – UNESCO, regional and special interest QA networks, university associations, student unions and other key stakeholders we built an appreciation for the contributions of INQAAHE to the wider community. I believe our efforts these past years added up to the already firmly laid foundation upon which this great organization will continue to be built in years to come.
I have learned a tremendous amount during my time at INQAAHE. Most importantly, throughout my experience, I became convinced in the virtue of INQAAHE as a truly global organization that candidly lives by the values of independence, transparency, cultural diversity, member-centrism, and, of course, professionalism. We practice what we preach and we preach what we practice. As simple as it is.
INQAAHE is also the best learning platform that offers you specific skills absolutely crucial for leadership success. It is the best school of diplomacy one can ever dream to be through. One of the key lessons learnt is you either ‘swim’ or ‘sink’. It hones the skills and competencies crucial in an ever-changing and difficult to predict environment, while putting at forefront importance of cultural peculiarities and sensitives of dealing with and learning from diverse groups. As I continue to give shape to my personal commitment to be a lifelong learner, I will remain close to the values of and principles of INQAAHE.
On leaving the helm of INQAAHE, I will remain fully dedicated to the INQAAHE and its cause as much as there is need for me to do so. I look forward to continuing to support the global community of QA providers through the wealth of knowledge and experience I have accumulated while leading INQAAHE. As mentioned many times, once with INQAAHE you are always with INQAAHE, it integrates into your DNA.
With this, I would like to thank my fellow Board members – current and past – for their hard work and commitment to the Network’s mission and express my heartfelt appreciation to all who have supported me and the Network throughout this remarkable time with INQAAHE. Special gratitude goes to David Woodhouse – my surveillance, who helped to keep me on track; Carol Bobby – my mentor in many regards; Pauline Tang – my all-time backup; Marti Casadesús – my safeguard for independence and transparency; María José Lemaitre – for caring and love; Beatriz Calzada and Concepción Herruzo for your hard work. Thank you all for your tireless and unconditional support any time I turned to you.
In closing, I would also like to thank all of the INQAAHE members for trusting me with the responsibility of serving in the most challenging and rewarding position. I hope I have managed to live up to the great expectations set. Thank you so very much! I will be looking forward to hearing more on the success of this most remarkable and crucial venture and remain available for our members at s.karakhanyan@inqaahe.org.
Yours sincerely,
Susanna Karakhanyan
INQAAHE 7th President

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