September 1, 2020
Dear AUC Community,
I warmly welcome both new and returning AUCians to this bright new academic year, promising an unusual wealth of challenges and opportunities. I am utterly confident that the brilliant success of our students, faculty and staff in overcoming the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic through the past Spring and Summer terms will propel us to further achievement, fully commensurate to the risks and dangers we certainly will face together. As AUC continues to navigate the challenges ahead, our focus remains on our core purpose: the delivery of a quality academic experience for all our students. As we cautiously re-open up the campuses to small numbers for physical presence, the Return to Campus Guidelines booklet outlines the measures required of each of us to mitigate the risk of spreading the contagion. I ask everyone to remain vigilant and cooperative in our individual care for and duty toward each other. I thank the hundreds of faculty and staff members who have devoted countless hours to make AUC ready and safe for the fall semester, including the continuing development of testing and tracing systems. We remain able to respond with agility as circumstances change.
I am pleased to welcome an especially strong incoming freshman class. Entry to AUC this year remained highly competitive with a selectivity of about 30 percent and yield — the percentage of students who enroll from those we accept — of more than 90 percent. We welcome new undergraduate and graduate students from 23 countries and 19 Egyptian governorates. All Egyptian students at AUC, including those who pay full tuition, receive a major subsidy, as tuition covers around 75 percent of AUC’s operating costs. This year, AUC will provide $22.3 million in scholarships and financial aid. We remain committed to ensuring that no continuing student is unable to complete his or her degree due to an inability to pay. This year also marks the start of the USAID Scholars program, which received more than 4,000 applications from all 27 governorates.
We are delighted also to welcome 28 new faculty members, more than half of them from outside Egypt — US, Belgium, France, Portugal, Italy, Germany, UK and Canada. As previously announced, two new senior executives have also joined the University leadership team: Dean of the Libraries and Learning Technologies Dr. Daniel Ortiz and AUC Press Director Mr. Michael Duckworth.
As ever, important initiatives are lending fresh energy to the new year. Just a few of the most exciting:
- #AUCSpeakUp (www.aucegypt.edu/speak-up) will reinforce AUC’s characteristic campus equity, inclusiveness and safety for all. We are the first in Egypt to introduce mandatory online anti-harassment training to all faculty, staff and students. Our entire University leadership — including all deans, vice presidents and department chairs — will join me in the first groups to participate in the training.
- Our campus master planning has progressed over the summer with a campus-wide survey, focus groups, neighborhood stakeholder engagements, and planning sessions to set up strategic decisions for academic growth priorities, campus life needs, student residences, learning spaces and beautification.
- AUC and the Egyptian Government have just concluded a historic agreement to update our foundational 1975 Memorandum of Understanding, setting the stage to clarify the University’s tax exemptions and affirming AUC’s traditional granting of numerous scholarships to students from Egyptian national secondary schools.
- AUC’s Institute of Global Health and Human Ecology is researching the possibility of deploying an internationally approved non-invasive, simple and cost-effective test to detect COVID-19, developed at Yale University.
I wish all an exciting, healthy and fruitful year ahead and look forward to meeting all soon both on campus and online.
Francis J. Ricciardone
Watch President Ricciardone's welcome message here.