Lewis Walker, who hails from the US, arrived on Maltese shores just over a month ago in order to assume his post as president of the American University of Malta. He has a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Missouri, and decades of experience in academe. This includes serving variously as provost, president, and chancellor of other universities.
When asked about his plans for AUM, Dr. Walker told us that, in addition to revamping the university, he wants to ensure that we not only educate students to a high standard, but prepare them for what comes next. This way, they might make a tangible difference out in the world.
“My vision for the American University Of Malta,” he elaborated, “is to be recognized as an innovative student-centered university, producing leaders with a global view and an entrepreneurial mindset.”
As for AUM’s teaching methods, Dr. Walker said that the emphasis will be on collaborative and application-based learning, of the kind that transcends theory to tackle real-life problems. “This will really engage our students in the learning process in a way very different from the standard lecture format,” he explained.
AUM, of course, has flung open its doors to the world, and is currently selecting international students from a pool of applicants in countries across the globe. These students are to receive a solid grounding in the liberal arts, which will serve as a stepping stone for them to pursue an academic specialization followed by a professional career in whatever field they choose. Dr. Walker strongly believes that such an approach will not only benefit students, but contribute towards improving higher education in Malta.
Since taking up his post at AUM, Dr. Walker has already had to grapple with numerous challenges. Fortunately, he has a fair bit of experience in getting educational projects off the ground. Moreover, many of the issues that need finessing are reminiscent of what he has dealt with in the past; “I think there are definitely some similarities in doing this,” he told us. Ultimately, Dr. Walker sees in AUM an “opportunity to really create a solid foundation, a really exciting preparation for our students.”
There are also advantages to being the new kid on the educational block. The AUM president put it this way: “We can craft whatever we want. In the future, we don’t have a legacy or a culture that we have to overcome [...] We can develop AUM from the beginning how we would like it to work – how it will prepare our students for the outside world.”