Reshaping Cocurricular Education: A Spotlight on Deena Boraie

Deena Boraie

Deena Boraie ‘78, ‘82, ‘88 is taking on the reinstated position, vice president for student life, with the goal of reshaping cocurricular education at AUC. With over 30 years of service to the University in administration and teaching, Boraie knows AUC well and has a unique plan to transform students’ experiences outside of the classroom.

Boraie began her career at AUC as a student, getting a degree in chemistry, followed by two master's degrees -- one in solid state science and another in teaching English as a foreign language -- culminating with a PhD in education from the University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom. She started her career teaching English part-time in AUC’s Division of Public Service and went on to become an English-language instructor at the English Language Institute. Since then, she has worked as an expert in assessment of learning as well as associate dean and, ultimately, dean of the School of Continuing Education.

Boraie was incredibly excited when she was offered the new vice president position.

“Students are the core of any university, and to fill this position was the culmination of all my life and work experience,” she exclaimed.

Unification and Coordination

Boraie’s first goal was to restructure the offices involved with student life, including the Office of Residential Life, Office of Athletics, Office of Student Life and Office of the Dean of Students under her to unify their goals and encourage communication and coordination on cocurricular activities.

“There were all these pieces. For instance, the Office of Residential Life and Office of Athletics reported to Campus Facilities. Everything was broken, so this position was created to consolidate the student life area,” Boraie explained.

Boriae hoped that creating this new leadership team will allow the offices to work together toward their common goals, strengthening their ability to tackle problems and enhance student experiences. Boraie will oversee the team, keeping them on track.

“I have experience with administration, and this position needs that. I like leadership teams and get satisfaction from getting things done,” Boraie stated.

Enhancing Student Experiences

Each of the offices have set goals with Boraie. The Dean of Students, for example, is responsible for student development, well-being and conduct. “We want to change the mindset about conduct, and I want to make sure this is conveyed in a positive sense,” she emphasized. “Conduct is not about discipline; it’s about education.”

She also discussed how she hopes to work with new Athletics Director Bob Reasso to restructure the University’s athletics program. Boraie wants to offer students American-style athletics. She is also hoping to provide students with American-style residential life, increasing dorm occupancy numbers and rates.

Boraie is dedicated to providing students with a well-rounded education. She sees AUC offering students two different experiences: the academic curriculum, where they learn basic skills such as critical and creative thinking, and the cocurricular and development programs, where they apply these basic skills. “What makes you outstanding and gives you an edge are these life skills, like communication and empathy that you get from a cocurricular experience,” she said.

Transforming Education

Besides taking on the new vice President for student life position, Boraie is currently working as the senior adviser for assessment, examinations and curriculum to the Minister of Education Tarek Shawki. Her goal is to reform not only AUC’s cocurricular programs, but also Egypt’s schooling and testing systems.

Hoping to change teachers' approaches to education, Boraie plans to train instructors to move away from teaching reproductive thinking to teaching dynamic thinking. “We are planning on changing the principles of teaching and learning," she said. "Education will no longer be about rote memorization and exams. It’s about fun, enjoying the experience and learning to understand.”

Boraie and Minister Shawki, former dean of AUC's School of Sciences and Engineering, will make these reforms using a mentorship approach, helping teachers change their practices by working with them in the classroom. They are also removing the dreaded thanaweya amma test, creating a cumulative and best performance assessment system to replace it.

Boraie has taken on improving education as a lifelong mission, dedicating her time to improving education at AUC and within Egypt. Boraie views her work as her way of giving back to her school and her country.

“I want to give back to AUC and to Egypt,” she said. “I have to give back when I can, and I do,” she affirmed.