June 15, 2014, Cairo, Egypt – The American University in Cairo (AUC) held its Spring 2014 commencement ceremonies that witnessed the graduation of 193 master’s and 561 bachelor’s degree candidates. Sherif Kamel, dean of the School of Business, AUC and Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, founder and chair of Al Habtoor Group, addressed the graduates as the keynote speakers.“I advise you to keep a positive outlook on things, start your day full of energy ready to conquer the world. Your generation has learned a lot from the turbulence that stormed Egypt in the past three years, and now the dust has settled. Let us put our hands together and build this country.”
Those were the words of Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, founder and chair of Al Habtoor Group, addressing the Class of 2014 at the 91st annual commencement ceremony held yesterday. A successful businessman and longtime supporter of education, Al Habtoor received an honorary Doctor of Philosophy from the University “for his dedication to fostering cross-cultural understanding, supporting humanitarian causes and advancing academic inquiry.”
In his speech, Al Habtoor emphasized the importance of rebuilding Egypt at the hands of not only its government, but, more importantly, its people. “As individuals, we are committed to help our beloved Egypt stand on its own feet and restore the old days we all miss. We miss Masr, um el donya. We miss the coffeeshops by the Nile, the cities and hotels full of tourists from all over the world, the greatest shows in the opera. Let us put our hands together to rebuild our Egypt. Take the first step, and we will be with every step of the way.”
Speaking at the graduate commencement, Sherif Kamel, ’87, ’90, ’13, dean of AUC’s School of Business, emphasized the important of contributing to the community and embracing challenges and failures on the road to success. “Egypt and the world badly need your brains, your energy and your passion,” he said. “Give them freely, but try to stay conscious of what it is you’re giving of yourself and why. I ask you to stay committed to optimism, to kindness and to the community.”
During both ceremonies, students were recognized for their outstanding academic achievements. At the undergraduate commencement, four students received the President’s Cup for achieving the highest grade point average. Those students are Ayman Ali, Aya Badawy, Liliane Abboud and Mohab Hassan.
The Parents Association Cup, given to the student who best demonstrates an ability to successfully combine academic achievement with a major contribution to student activities, was awarded to Aliaa Abdel Aziz. The Ahmed H. Zewail Prize for Excellence in the Sciences and the Humanities was presented to Taher El Moataz Bellah, while the Nadia Younes Award for Humanitarian and Public Service was awarded to Hana Shaltout. The Student Government Cup, granted to outstanding student government leaders who positively impacted the AUC community through their work, was awarded to Fouad Hetta and Mohamed El Mansoury.
At the graduate commencement, Nadine Fawzy, who received a Master of Arts in political science, was recognized with the Tawfiq Pasha Doss Award, presented annually to the best thesis in English and comparative literature and political science, alternatively.
The commencement ceremonies also presented an opportunity to honor faculty members for their excellence in academia and research. Ezzat Fahmy, professor in the Department of Construction and Architectural Engineering, received the Excellence in Service award. Ahmed M. Abdel-Meguid, associate professor and chair of the Department of Accounting, was presented with the Excellence in Teaching award, whereas the Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors award was given to Maha Mourad, assistant professor in the Department of Management.
Speaking at the undergraduate ceremony, President Lisa Anderson said that the graduating class includes students who learned as much from their mistakes as from their successes and described the students as “more sophisticated, more knowledgeable and more able than they were when they arrived four or five years ago. They are ready to dream of things that never were and to ask why not?” she said.