Professor Tan Sri Dato’ Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, the 14th President of the International Association of Universities, was the 2017 winner of the Universitas 21 Gilbert Medal. Professor Dzul has a long and distinguished track record of university leadership, including spells as Vice Chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM, 2000-2011) and of Albukhary International University (AiU, 2011-2013), where he developed the concept of 'the humaniversity'.
He has served in various capacities internationally, including an executive committee member of: Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Advisory Education Hub Committee, Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and the Advisory Committee of World Universities Forum. He was the President of Association of Southeast Asia Institutions of Higher Learning (ASAIHL). When the name of this year’s recipient was announced, Universitas 21 chair Professor Sir David Eastwood commented:
Awarded annually by Universitas 21 to honour our founding Chair, Alan Gilbert, the recipients have been those who have made the sector stop, reflect, think and move forward more informed and more enriched for the challenges of the future. Both within Malaysia and beyond, Professor Dzul is recognised as a thoughtful and reflective leader and we are delighted to acknowledge this through the award of the Gilbert Medal 2017.
His long term commitment to an integrated approach to internationalisation, to a sustainable (sejahtera) approach to international HE, and his tireless work to support and develop the clearly public good dimensions of HE means he is a worthy recipient of this, the highest honour Universitas 21 can bestow. He has been distinctive in his willingness to challenge western knowledge systems and to support the development and dissemination of alternative views on science, philosophy and education through his work on decolonising universities.
On learning of the award, Professor Dzul said:
I am humbled to receive this recognition from my esteemed peers on behalf of the many people who have courageously worked collectively to ensure that higher education is a right rather than a privilege in creating a more just, equitable, accessible and sustainable world.
Professor Dzul was presented the Gilbert Medal at a gala dinner at the University of Nottingham in May 2017. The medal itself features the winning design from a competition among students at Lund University. Sweden. The medal is manufactured in the world-renowned Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham, UK and has been described by the craftsmen who work on it as 'simply stunning'.