Meet the New Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences John Meloy

Dean John Meloy

As of July 2021, John Meloy became AUC’s new dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. He earned his PhD in history from the University of Chicago and has a track record of academic achievements, including a record of research and publication in Islamic history, with a specialization in the Mamluk era.  

Furthermore, previously serving as chair of the Department of History and Archeology, associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and director of the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies at the American University of Beirut, Meloy brings with him years of exemplary higher education experience to AUC.

Why did you decide to join AUC?

There was a convergence of factors, but mainly my decision was driven by the opportunity to contribute to AUC and to live in Egypt again.

You have extensive experience at higher education institutions, such as AUB, along with your research expertise. How will you build on this experience during your time at AUC?

I believe my experience in Beirut will help in my work here in Cairo, but I also recognize that each of these two institutions is unique. The real challenge, I think, is to be creative and collaborative in achieving our goals.

What is your vision as dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences?

My vision reflects the school’s vision statement: excellence in teaching, research and creative expression. Given the diversity of disciplines within HUSS, we are well-positioned to serve as the nexus of the local and the global in manifold ways.

What is your plan to further strengthen the visibility of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences?

Strengthening visibility is a never-ending project, achieved through publicizing faculty and student achievements and, whenever possible, extending what we do to the broader public. 

The critical skills our students acquire from our various disciplines give them the means to continue learning after they graduate. It’s not so much teaching them what they need to know now, but rather teaching them how to figure out what they need to know and giving them the skills and traits to teach themselves: sharpening critical thinking, cultivating curiosity and creativity, fostering individual and social awareness, and strengthening effective communication. 

Lifelong learning is the only way to prepare for the future.

What are your priorities during this coming year?

My priority are the people in HUSS. 

I hope to ensure that the faculty have the support they need to achieve their scholarly objectives, the students are getting the most out of their education, and our curriculum gives them the best possible springboard for their success.

Some fun facts: 

Favorite book?

Favorite of all time?  That’s a tough one. I’m usually pleased with whatever I’m reading now, which tends to be different things at once.  Vikram Seth’s Two Lives, which I found on an open bookshelf in the faculty housing, offers an intimate portrait of two quite different lives joined in the middle of the 20th century. 

Since coming to Cairo, after not living here for a long time, I’ve become interested in the extensive growth of the city, so I’ve turned to David Sims’ Egypt’s Desert Dreams, and Yahia Shawkat’s Egypt’s Housing Crisis is next on the list. A shoutout to AUC Press!

Favorite music?

My tastes are eclectic: Bach, Brubeck, BB King, the Beatles. Other letters of the alphabet are acceptable too.

Favorite activity? 

 Swimming.

Favorite Egyptian food?

 I wouldn’t mind eating a ta’amiya sandwich now.

Your hero/role model?

 All the great teachers I’ve had.

Greatest inspiration?

People who are great researchers and teachers.

Something not a lot of people know about you? 

A memorable spring break in college was spending a week on a Greyhound bus riding across the United States.

Best accomplishment?

Maybe not the best, but an accomplishment, is that Greyhound bus riding across the United States.

What problem do you wish to solve in the world? 

Wow. Where to start?