The chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of The American University in Cairo (AUC), Richard Bartlett, held a farewell dinner in honor of Lisa Anderson, AUC’s president, for her years of service to the University. The Chairman’s Dinner was attended by members of the BOT, ministers, presidents of Egyptian and Arab universities, University supporters and partners, alumni, parents, faculty, students and staff, including alumna Sahar Nasr, minister of international cooperation; Ahmed Darwish, former minister of administration development, Johansen Yahya Eid, head of the National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education (NAQAAE), Shafik Gabr, chairman and managing director, ARTOC Group for Investment and Development, Hussein Eissa, president of Ein Shams University, Ebada Sarhan, president of Future University and Yasser Sakr, president of Helwan University.Anderson, (CASA ’76) was appointed the 11th president of AUC in January 2011 becoming the first female and first alumna president. Bartlett announced that AUC will be honoring Anderson by naming a professorship, "The Lisa Anderson Professorship in Politics and Policy Making. “While Lisa will be remembered mostly for the leadership she showed as president, much of her legacy emanates from her time as provost. The University created three schools—the School of Business, the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and the Graduate School of Education—each of which has become a leading program in Egypt and the region. The University created its first PhD program in applied sciences and engineering, and it completed its historic, but extremely challenging, move from downtown Cairo to our beautiful new campus.”
Bartlett also mentioned in his speech how the first weeks of Lisa as president were consumed with the logistics of evacuating hundreds of international students and ensuring the safety and security of the University community and its facilities shortly after her appointment in 2011. “Within days of the departure of the country's president, AUC resumed classes and was the only University operating in Egypt for nearly six weeks,” he said.
He also shed the light on how Anderson has led AUC through challenging times, “we have successfully completed every semester-- despite the active efforts of some of our students to close the campus. During this period, AUC has started several new initiatives that respond to the specific needs of Egypt. AUC’s Venture Lab allows entrepreneurs from all over Egypt to bring their ideas to market; AUC has partnered with other institutions in Egypt to create career centers to help qualified students and employers find each other. And throughout this period, AUC has enlarged its traditional and essential role as a non-partisan public forum for discussing the issues of Egypt’s future. It has been a consequential time and Lisa has led with conviction and creativity.”
In her farewell speech, Lisa said, “I was honored to be nominated as a trustee of AUC a decade ago and very grateful for the confidence David Arnold had in me when he invited me to serve as provost nearly eight years ago. I much appreciated the confidence of my fellow trustees when they appointed me president and I appreciated their extension of my term only two years ago, when the country was under curfew, our revenues collapsing and the outlook bleak and frightening.” “Today,” Lisa added, “AUC’s budget will be balanced two years in a row, our applications are higher than ever in history; our acceptance rate puts us well into the top 100 schools in the US; our yield is on a par with Harvard’s.”
Lisa noted that AUC’s most recent QS world higher education ranking is higher than it has ever been and, indeed, higher than many of AUC’s US peers, including Brandeis. Also the post-graduate employment statistics are on a par with US counterparts, even in the face of economic challenges in many of the places AUC alumni seek employment, not least Egypt itself. Anderson also highlighted how AUC has been working more closely with other institutions, particularly national universities, in arenas as diverse as job readiness programs and joint research projects and how the university’s faculty are securing more patents than ever and winning international recognition for their scientific research—notice in science, nature and other top ranked peer reviewed journals—as well as for their fiction, poetry, commentary and translations—Arab Booker Prize nominations, MacArthur Foundation genius awards and inclusion in the world’s 100 Most Influential People in the Arts.
Prior to joining AUC in 2008, Anderson served as the James T. Shotwell professor of international relations at Columbia University and is the former dean of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia. She also served as the chair of the political science department at the University and as the director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute. Before joining Columbia, she was assistant professor of government and social studies at Harvard University. Anderson holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University. She earned a PhD in political science from Columbia University, 1981, where she also received a certificate from the Middle East Institute. She was awarded an honorary doctor of laws from Monmouth University in 2002.
Anderson was recently also inducted into the newest class of members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the USA’s oldest learned societies and independent research centers.