New CIB Banking Professorship to Foster Research, Financial Services

Promoting knowledge of banking through teaching, research and service, the University has recently established the Commercial International Bank (CIB) Endowed Professorship in Banking. An agreement was signed this week between AUC and CIB, and it is anticipated that a professor will be chosen for the position by Spring 2014.

Egypt is “underbanked,” according to AUC President Lisa Anderson, since only one in 10 adult Egyptians has a bank account. Banks, in turn, are reluctant to offer loans. Yet, Anderson noted, the availability of financial services like small business loans and a secure banking account would tap into the “substantial wealth of the informal sector,” thereby encouraging economic development.

With recent events in Egypt, the CIB Endowed Professorship in Banking provides a unique opportunity to cultivate research about the banking sector and produce students who will play a key role in providing financial services for Egypt’s population. “There is much to be learned about how the banking sector is evolving — in the world, in the region and in Egypt,” said Anderson. “I am proud that CIB has the confidence in AUC to make this investment in our faculty.”

The CIB Endowed Professorships in Banking aims to integrate industrial trends into the classroom. The holder of this professorship will be an accomplished academic whose students will be exposed to the various aspects of banking, challenging their thinking and encouraging their application of new, creative practices in the banking sector. The professorship also aims to enhance research efforts in the area of banking by developing regional case studies, fostering collaborations with international experts and scholars, and producing high-quality research papers. It will serve as a link between the School of Business and key members of the banking community, including regulators, boards, executives and others. This will constitute an effective communication channel between those in academia and those practicing banking by offering workshops, conferences and other activities directed toward the development of banking skills among both faculty members and students.

Anderson maintained that this professorship will not only provide students with unique educational opportunities, but will also serve Egypt by encouraging research about the banking sector. “AUC is always proud to be both at the cutting edge of research and education and service to Egypt,” she said. “This chair represents this dual commitment at its best.”

Anderson also hopes that this professorship will expand research on financial service accessibility for Egyptians. “If we figure out why Egyptians and their banks are so wary and distrustful of each other,” she said, “we will go a long way to unlocking the enormous potential of this country. The research that will be done by the holder of this chair, and by his or her students, will serve not only to enhance our understanding of the world of finance, but will have tangible and practical effects on the well-being of millions of Egyptians.”

Hisham Ezz al-Arab, CIB’s chair and managing director, shared similar hopes about the influence of this professorship. “It will make students think of banking in a different way,” he said. “Ten years from now, we will see the impact of what has been started today.”

Highlighting the importance of this professorship, Ezz al-Arab noted, “The main objective of establishing the CIB Endowed Professorship in Banking is to design and implement banking curricula in different educational programs, which will provide essential training to students. Consequently, these students will join banks well-equipped with the required knowledge base that enables them to contribute at the beginning of their careers. As these graduates progress in their careers, CIB would expect them to take leadership positions both in the private and public sectors, helping their organizations make effective contributions that will ultimately be of immense benefit to the country.”

CIB and AUC have had a long-standing relationship with each other. According to Sherif Kamel, dean of the School of Business, CIB is the second top employer of AUC students. “We are very proud that many players in the banking sector are actually graduates of the University,” he said.

Kamel is excited about what this professorship would mean for students. “Research will be at the core of the professorship,” he affirmed, adding that the professorship will be influential not just for finance students, but for accounting and economics students as well.