The arrival on campus of our new and returning students, faculty and staff at the beginning of this spring term, and the graduation last week of the second cohort of the Centennial Freshman Class, vividly mark the opening of an exciting year of celebration of AUC’s founding 100 years ago. Those times were no less tumultuous than our own: the stirrings of Egypt’s modern national renaissance accelerated with the nationalist revolution led by Saad Zaghloul only a month after AUC opened — an event we will be commemorating with an academic panel next month, as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of our School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. Truly, AUC’s story is woven into the fabric of Egypt’s own development over this past century into a leading, influential power among the community of nations. As Egypt’s story continues to unfold, powered by the vision, creativity and dynamism of its people — especially its youth — so does the story of AUC’s mission of service to our host nation and the world as Egypt’s Global University.
The AUC Centennial energy in the air is palpable, as is its attraction extending well beyond Egypt. Last week, Minister of Planning and Reform Hala Said hosted the signing ceremony for our MOU with King’s College to help train up to 50,000 executives of the Government of Egypt to prepare their move to the New Administrative Capital. On Saturday, February 9, our Trustees will join students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of AUC in ceremonies and festivities to mark the start of our Centennial year at our original campus at Tahrir Square. Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghaffar will represent the Government of Egypt in ceremonies at historic Ewart Memorial Hall. On the same date, we will open the first phase of the newly refurbished AUC Tahrir Cultural Center (TCC), thanks to a generous gift by Engineer Naguib Sawiris, with exhibitions by former AUC faculty member Huda Lutfi and Egyptian-American Sherin Guirguis. Ms. Guirguis is bringing work directly from her show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts and Crafts, which celebrated the pioneering feminist Doria Shafik, who led from AUC’s Ewart Hall the 1951 women’s march on parliament for the rights to vote and hold public office. The TCC will serve as vibrant teaching and learning resource for our students and faculty, as it enriches cultural life downtown and catalyzes an Egyptian renaissance in the arts. The next day, our Trustees will make their annual visit to the New Campus to meet students, faculty, and staff — and, our neighboring stakeholders in New Cairo, including District President Engineer El-Naggar — to advance our collaboration in developing the district which we share.
Meanwhile, AUC Press is experiencing such record sales at the annual Cairo International Book Fair that we have had to poach stock from the shelves at our bookstores on both campuses. On our New Cairo campus, we have illuminated our iconic lighthouse tower and will open it for visitors. Spring term’s entering freshmen represented 28 countries plus Egypt, including our first South Sudanese and Ecuadorean, and Harvard’s first Ph.D. student in Egyptology — suggesting the first fruits of our campaign to bring foreign scholars back to AUC and Egypt. Looking ahead, AUC will host the presidents of 12 African and 9 Chinese universities in early April, in the context of President El-Sissi’s Year of International Education program, and in May, AUC will gain positive international recognition both for us and for Egypt once again through our centennial fundraising gala dinner at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur. We will also inaugurate new summer programs. By Fall 2019, we will inaugurate an Innovation Hub and fresh campus animation projects to welcome yet more international scholars and delegations.
Even as we celebrate such positive momentum at the outset of our centennial year, we must not rest: we may justly boast having some of Egypt’s best students, faculty and staff, and a global network of trustee and alumni supporters. But there is much more to do to advance in our quest to go from good to great at the global level. I am grateful for our community’s enthusiastic commitment to and support in this mission.
Francis J. Ricciardone