The American University in Cairo (AUC) held a media roundtable discussion titled, “AUC: Priorities for 2018 and vision for the new century” yesterday at the New Cairo campus to discuss AUC’s plans and prospects for the new academic year as well as the University’s preparations for its centennial. Speakers were AUC President Francis Ricciardone, AUC Counselor Ashraf Hatem and AUC Provost Ehab Abdel-Rahman.At the roundtable, Ricciardone announced the return of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) to AUC. “CASA is one of the best Arabic teaching centers, and its return will not only attract international students, but will give them confidence in returning to Egypt, to Cairo, and AUC.” Established in 1967, CASA provides intensive advanced Arabic- language training at AUC. Since its inception, CASA has trained more than 1,500 upper-level undergraduates, graduates and professors.
AUC is preparing for the centennial events of 2019-2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of AUC in Egypt where the university has built bridges between East and West and provided thousands of graduates in all fields, including ministers, ambassadors, scientists and artists, and also contributed, through various scholarships to give opportunities to thousands of students who cannot afford to pay for education, to join the university. Its scientists have contributed with research that solvines some of the community problems such as treatment of virus C and cancer, as well as Red Sea research and discoveries, which is a scientific revolution in the areas of brain Pharmaceutical industry and biotechnology products.
This year, Ricciardone also said that the number of students receiving scholarships has increased in comparison to last year, “AUC awards more than $23 million annually in scholarships and financial aid. Over 45 percent of AUC students receive some form of financial assistance, either through scholarships or financial aid.”
At the discussion, Ricciardone also announced that AUC is providing scholarships for English language proficiency for 20 journalists, “as a grant from the university to support journalists to enhance their language skills in this competitive media climate.”
In his role as AUC’s new counselor, Hatem is typically liaising between Egyptian authorities and the University, including working on continuing to develop good relations between AUC, Egyptian institutions and the Supreme Council of Universities, as well as helping to implement the accreditation process for all academic degrees. “AUC is strengthening its relationship with the Egyptian government. It is the oldest international university in Egypt, and the oldest after Cairo University,” said Hatem, “AUC is the first University in Egypt to be accredited by the Egyptian National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education and is also accredited in the United States by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.” Hatem also said that the Ministry of Education is holding a conference next February to discuss and put the rules of establishment for international university branches, where AUC will be participating, “AUC’s experience is an important one, in terms of its laws, who to collaborate with, relations between the Supreme Council of Universities and the international universities.”
Hatem highlighted that AUC’s School of Business is the first in the Middle East to receive the triple-crown accreditation from EQUIS, AMBA and AACSB, making it among 1 percent of 14,000 business schools worldwide to receive this distinction.
As Abdel-Rahman embarks on his new role as AUC provost, he expressed how proud he is as an Egyptian working at AUC, “I am proud to say that I work at AUC.” Abdel-Rahman, originally a professor at Helwan University, has been teaching abroad and then returned to Egypt to work at AUC. “The University plays a great role in bringing back the great minds of Egyptian researchers back home,” he said, “I am also proud to work in a non-profit – which says a lot about the quality we offer students.”
Abdel- Rahman stressed that accreditation is about assurance and quality, “It is important for the University, schools, and programs to be accredited is important. It is especially important for programs to be accredited, a matter that is of priority to us.” He pointed out that AUC’s two programs in the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy–– the Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy –– have recently received accreditation from The European Association for Public Administration Accreditation (EAPAA). This latest accreditation makes the two programs the first in the world to receive “triple crown” accreditation in the field of public affairs education.
Abdel- Rahman added, “Our priority is constantly improving the quality of education, no matter where we stand, we are always working to advance it. We are working to enhance administration and the student experience. We are hoping to re-internationalize the university. We are always working to foster creativity in the curriculum, scholarships, in how we reach out to the media, in everything we do, stressed Abdel Rahman.
He also explained that AUC is reaching out to the community surrounding it, whether in Tahrir or in New Cairo, “We are proud of launching the neighborhood initiative which strives to promote sustainable development on and around its campuses in a manner that supports the creation and preservation of a just, livable and diverse neighborhood.” The Neighborhood Initiative works collaboratively across the University with faculty, students, staff and administrators, as well as neighborhood residents, businesses, and public sector decision-makers.
Abdel- Rahman also highlighted the role of AUC Venture Lab, the first university-based incubator in Egypt, which is ranked among the top five university incubators in Africa, in promoting entrepreneurship in Egypt.
AUC has also been consistently cooperating with the Egyptian Universities, “AUC has established Technology Transfer Offices in Egyptian Universities and the Employability and Career Development Centers in Universities like Ain Shams, Suez Canal and Assiut Universities. “AUC is part of the Egyptian Education scene, we have professors from almost all Egyptian universities teaching at AUC and engaging with their alma mater in researches and projects,” Abdel-Rahman added.
The media roundtable discussion was preceded by a campus tour for the journalists to the AUC tunnel, which is a 1.6-kilometer service tunnel that runs beneath AUC’s New Cairo campus to accommodate electric cars and pedestrians only, allowing deliveries and pickups from campus buildings and also including the University’s fiber optic and technology-related wiring, major electrical conduits and plumbing for hot water, domestic water and chilled water for air conditioning. Journalists also visited the student residence in addition to visiting the main areas in the sports complex, which is more than 40,000 square meters of indoor and outdoor space.