President Ricciardone Officially Inaugurated

Inaugurated in a packed Bassily Auditorium, AUC’s 12th President Francis J. Ricciardone was officially vested by Board of Trustees Chairman Richard Bartlett with the 14-karat gold medallion bearing the University emblem, in the presence of trustees, past AUC presidents, diplomats, donors, faculty, staff, students and members of the community.

“An inauguration is a time for celebration –– an occasion to eulogize past chapters in the University’s history and to anticipate with enthusiasm the chapter we are about to enter,” said Bartlett. “AUC's history is cause for gratitude, pride and optimism.”

Leading AUC into the Future

As AUC embarks on a second century of education and service, Bartlett asked the community to unite behind President Ricciardone’s strong leadership and vision. “While Frank’s commitment to education and to Egypt impressed the search committee, the trustees ultimately picked Frank for his leadership,” Bartlett said. “We inaugurate him today, confident in the knowledge that his devotion to our mission is absolute, his character impeccable and his commitment to excellence is deep. …Our future is filled with new challenges, but even greater promise. Daunting as those challenges may seem, they wither when we unite behind the nobility of our shared goals. Frank will be a leading character in AUC’s next chapter, but let us pledge that we will write it together.” For Bartlett's full speech, click here.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Ashraf El-Shihy emphasized AUC’s central role as a leading educational institution in Egypt and the importance of mutual collaboration: “There will be a larger scope of joint work and cooperation for achieving the education and research objectives of The American University in Cairo. ... especially in light of the University president's outlook on Egypt, which was expressed in his statement on Egypt and the Egyptian people: ‘If you ever want to solve the world’s problems, you could come to Egypt and its friendly people.’ …I wish the new president of The American University in Cairo every success in leading this prestigious educational institution, and I promise to work together for the sake of the Egyptian and American people’s everlasting prosperity.”

Defining AUC: Identity, Continuity and Excellence

A former career diplomat with years of distinguished service in Egypt and the Middle East, President Ricciardone began his remarks in Arabic. In addition to articulating why he and his wife, molecular biologist Dr. Marie Ricciardone, returned to Egypt, or "Umm El Donia" as he describes it, President Ricciardone illustrated his vision for the University, focusing on its "identity, continuity and excellence" as three main pillars that have defined AUC throughout its first century and must endure in the future.

“Our identity as Egypt’s global University is our most distinguishing asset and greatest competitive edge,” Ricciardone said. “We have always been a two-way portal, facilitating the exchange both to and from Egypt –– of people, their knowledge and ideas. We bring Americans and other nationalities, often including Egyptian-Americans, back to Egypt –– even as we enable our graduates to thrive and to compete in any field, anywhere in the world. Thus, we have always been in the business of ‘brain gain’ for Egypt and her region, standing against the global forces of ‘brain drain.’” 

Noting the importance of philanthropy, giving and the "intergenerational compact" in the University’s future continuity, President Ricciardone urged that “for our own sustainability –– to uphold our obligations to the coming generations of students –– we must strengthen our community’s culture of service and giving, and we must demonstrate the most prudent stewardship of all our current resources: human and fiscal.”

Further expanding on the importance of a culture of service, the president added, “We must ask our prospective students not 'What do you want to be?' but rather, 'What problems do you want to solve? How do you wish to serve your country and your fellow man and woman?' ... Students of so many different academic majors have told me that of all their experiences at our University, their community service has had the most transformative impact on their own characters and learning.”

Throughout the past century, "excellence in all we undertake" has been the most defining trait of AUC, stated Ricciardone. “Excellence is by definition rare: It means standing above and beyond the norm," he said. "Excellence is not elitism or snobbery, but it requires exceptional people making truly exceptional effort, backed by unusually supportive families, institutions and visionary sponsors."

Looking ahead, Ricciardone emphasized the importance of working together as a solid community. “Together, we are committed to passing The American University in Cairo onto future generations even stronger than we have found it, revitalizing its strong legacy and culture of giving, of service and of excellence,” he affirmed. For President Ricciardone's full inauguration speech, click here.

For pictures of the inauguration ceremony, click here

For more information on the presidential inauguration, click here.