Cairo Board Meeting: Centennial, Budget and More

At its February meeting in Cairo, AUC’s Board of Trustees approved a balanced operating budget for fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) and focused on increasing financial assistance to students by allocating 20 percent of gross tuition to scholarships, fellowships and financial aid. To read more on the approved budget and tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year, click here.

The board also elected two new members: Nora Abousteit ’00, founder and CEO of CraftJam Inc, and Kristin Lord, president and CEO of IREX nonprofit organization.

On the board’s busy agenda were items ranging from international student recruitment, centennial planning, human resources transformation and academic affairs; the midyear commencement ceremonies; a lunch with scholarship students; and campus engagement visits that included attending a class as well as touring the faculty housing and facilities. The board also reviewed progress on AUC’s centennial fundraising campaign and on the new configuration for the New York Office to enhance University functions.

Distinguished for their professional accomplishments in the areas of business, law, education, philanthropy and scholarship, members of AUC’s Board of Trustees are all volunteers who dedicate their time and resources to supporting the University. Primarily Egyptians and Americans, the trustees do not receive any compensation. They provide generous financial support to the University, in addition to their fiduciary responsibilities. Last fiscal year, 100 percent of the trustees made a gift to AUC. To see a complete list of AUC’s trustees, click here.

International Student Recruitment

Focusing on international students, Ahmed Tolba, associate provost for strategic enrollment management, discussed AUC’s strengthening of recruitment efforts through visits to university campuses and recruitment events, hiring of a recruitment officer at the New York Office, initiating a digital campaign and launching an Ambassador Program, whereby select students, faculty and alumni would advocate for AUC. Tolba also presented to the board the findings of a research study conducted by the U.S.-based Edelman marketing firm on American student recruitment.

“Our target is to increase the percentage of international students on campus from 5 percent to 20 percent of the student body by 2022,” said Tolba. “Re-internationalizing our campus is a key strategic priority.”

Reimagining the Student Experience

With reimagining the student experience as a key priority for the University, Tolba and Hanan Abdel-Meguid, vice president for digital innovation, launched the Student Experience Task Force. Four projects were presented to the board based on the task force’s recommendations: a) Business Process Improvement, which focuses on mapping, optimizing, documenting and, ultimately, automating key student-related processes; b) DegreeWorks (phase two), which aims to offer students and advisers a tool to plan their courses until graduation and alert students who are off-track; c) Customer Relationship Management, which focuses on optimizing internal communications and allowing for effective interactions across all student communication touch points; d) Dor-e Online Queuing System, which aims to manage the queues in high-demand areas in an effective and organized manner.

“The key here is that integrating offices has led to a better understanding of the problems and excellent coordination to solve them,” affirmed Tolba. “This is a significant positive change that should lead to successful initiatives and real impact.”

To effectively and efficiently collect data that would support proper and timely decision making affecting students, the Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research designed a Business Intelligence system based initially on student data to inform enrollment management decisions. “The trustees saw evidence of our use of our Business Intelligence dashboards that help in the analysis of trends and support decision making in the realms of students and human resources, and were very supportive of our commitment to do more,” said Brian MacDougall, executive vice president for administration and finance.

Centennial Planning

The board met with members of the five centennial task forces: Materials and Collateral, Alumni Engagement and Fundraising, Academic Activities and Programming, Marketing and Promotions, and Events. Task force members briefed the trustees on their plans for AUC’s 100th anniversary, including celebrations on and off campus, events and activities, competitions and promotional campaigns.

Among the initiatives presented to the board was a centenary book, to be published by AUC Press at the end of 2019. “It was a pleasure to see how engaged all the members of the Board of Trustees were with the idea of a centenary book — in print and digital forms — which celebrates the people who have made and make AUC what it is today, and who will steer AUC into the future,” said Nigel Fletcher-Jones, director of AUC Press and a member of the Materials and Collateral Task Force. “The book will explore a great number of themes, including the contributions that AUC has made to the country, the region and the world in the past 100 years, and how the University has adapted to the social and cultural environment around it during that time. In addition to focusing on where we have been, the volume will also explore where we are heading.”

Mervat Abou Oaf, professor of practice and former chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and a member of the Alumni Engagement and Fundraising Task Force, also noted the success of the centennial session. “Everyone who participated was very engaged, and the presentations were short and communicative,” she said. “Board of Trustees members expressed their interest and attention to what was being shared by each group, and the diverse and unique approach of each group made the session all the more engaging.”

Human Resources Transformation

Performance management, investment in education and ensuring optimal structure and job design were among the subjects discussed with the board in the area of human resources.

At the meeting, Sarah Refaat, associate vice president for human resources, presented the human resources strategic initiatives to align with AUC’s strategic priorities, including HR transformation in talent, structure and systems. Talent management initiatives include AUC’s competencies framework, competency-based interviewing, as well as the High Performers Reward Program and Executive Leadership Program. Refaat also discussed the Organizational Excellence Strategy Project, which will help each unit and department at AUC achieve its objectives through systematic organizational design, proper workload analysis, employee performance assessments and employee competence profiles. “This project will incorporate the analysis of best practices at international and American universities, in addition to analyzing the current AUC culture and incorporating this culture in any proposed change,” said Refaat.

These human resources strategies “ensure that AUC is well-served by highly motivated staff members who are committed to the attainment of AUC’s mission and vision,” explained MacDougall.

Quality of Education

The board also attended a presentation by Aziza Ellozy, associate provost for transformative learning and teaching, on the highlights of the Provost’s Task Force on the Quality of Undergraduate Education at AUC, undertaken during the Fall 2017 semester. The task force was established to assess the quality of AUC education as a result of reports that the quality had declined, Ellozy explained. The task force, chaired by Ellozy, consisted of nine faculty members, two students and three facilitators from the Office of Data Analytics and Institutional Research as well as the Center for Learning and Teaching. The report and results will be discussed with the community at large this spring.

Into the Future

Looking ahead, the board reviewed the current range of properties owned and operated by AUC, and discussed future facility planning as it relates to the New Cairo campus. A review of the current master plan for the New Cairo campus will be a subject of discussion at the next board meeting in May. The trustees also showed great interest in planning for AUC’s upcoming Middle States Commission on Higher Education accreditation visit in March and will be active in that process.

“The Board of Trustees meeting was very productive,” said MacDougall. “The trustees individually and collectively displayed high interest and commitment in ensuring that they are fulfilling their fiduciary responsibilities. The meeting also provided an opportunity to dialogue with the board on matters of quality, access and the cost of our academic programs.”

Meet some of AUC's Board of Trustees members in interviews conducted by the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism.