American University in Cairo

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The American University in Cairo
الجامعة الأمريكية بالقاهرة
Motto Catalyst for Change
Established 1919
Type Private
President Lisa Anderson
Provost Amr Shaarawi (acting; Oct., 8, 2012)
Academic staff Full-time 423
Part-Time 358
Students 6,824
Undergraduates 5244
Postgraduates 1,259
Location Cairo, Egypt
Campus New Cairo, Egypt (Main Campus) and Tahrir Square (Downtown Campus)
Mascot Eagle

The American University in Cairo (AUC) is an independent, nonprofit, English language, liberal arts university located in Cairo, Egypt. The university provides an American liberal arts education to students from Egypt and other countries around the world and contributes substantially towards Egypt’s intellectual life.

The university offers American style learning programs at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels, along with an extensive continuing education program. The university promotes professional education and lifelong learning.

The AUC student body represents over 100 countries.[1] AUC's faculty members, adjunct teaching staff and visiting lecturers are internationally diverse and include academics, business professionals, diplomats, journalists, writers and others from the United States, Egypt and other countries.

Academic development of the university[edit]

The American University in Cairo was founded in 1919 by American Mission in Egypt, a Protestant mission sponsored by the United Presbyterian Church of North America, as an English-language university and preparatory school.[2]

Originally, AUC was intended to be both a preparatory school and a university. The preparatory school opened to 142 students on October 5, 1920 in the former minister of education Ahmad Khairy Pasha’s palace, built in the 1860s and known as Khairy Pasha palace. The first diplomas issued were junior college-level certificates given to 20 students in 1923.[3]

At first an institution only for males, the university enrolled its first female student in 1928, the same year in which the first university class graduated, with two BAs and one BSc degrees awarded. Master's degrees were first offered in 1950.

In the 1950s, the university changed its name from The American University at Cairo, replacing "at" with "in."

The American University in Cairo Press was established in 1960; today, it publishes up to 60 books annually.[4] It is regarded as the Arab world's top English language publishing house.

In 1960, AUC had about 400 academic students. This number tripled over the following ten years.

Within this period, the university opened the Center for Arabic Study Abroad, which attracts students from around the world who wish to study Arabic intensively. Adult education expanded simultaneously and now serves approximately tens of thousands of individuals each year in non-credit courses and contracted training programs.

In 1978, the university established the Desert Development Center to promote sustainable development in Egypt's reclaimed desert areas.[5] The Desert Development Center's legacy is now being carried forward by the Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment.[6]

In the 1980s, the university first received full accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

In 2007, the university renamed its Center for Adult and Continuing Education as the School of Continuing Education, and in 2008, the Adham Center for TV Journalism became the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism, Training and Research.

In 2009, AUC's Graduate School of Education, School of Business and School of Global Affairs and Public Policy were established.

AUC Campus history[edit]

Tahrir Square Campus

AUC was originally established in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. The 7.8-acre Tahrir Square campus was developed around the Khairy Pasha Palace. Built in the neo-Mamluk style, the palace inspired an architectural style that has been replicated throughout Cairo.[7] Ewart Hall was established in 1928, named for William Dana Ewart, the father of an American visitor to the campus, who made a gift of $100,000 towards the cost of construction on the condition that she remain anonymous.[8] The structure was designed by A. St. John Diament, abutting the south side of the Palace. The central portion of the building houses an auditorium large enough to seat 1,200, as well as classrooms, offices and exhibition galleries. The school’s continued growth required additional space, and in 1932, a new building was dedicated to house the School of Oriental Studies. East of Ewart Hall, the centerpiece of the new building is Oriental Hall, an auditorium and reception room built and decorated in an adaptation of traditional styles,[9] yet responsive to the architectural style of their own time.[7]

In the fall of 2008, AUC officially inaugurated AUC New Cairo, a new 260-acre suburban campus in New Cairo, a satellite city 45 minutes away from the downtown campus. New Cairo is a development comprising 46,000 acres of land with a projected population of 2.5 million people.[10] AUC New Cairo provides advanced facilities for research and learning, as well as all the modern resources needed to support campus life.[11] In its master plan for the new campus, the university mandated that the campus express the university’s values as a liberal arts institution in what is essentially a non-Western context with deep traditional roots and high aspirations.[12] The new campus is intended to serve as a case study for how architectural harmony and diversity can coexist creatively and how tradition and modernity can appeal to the senses.[13] Campus spaces serve as virtual laboratories for the study of desert development, biological sciences and the symbiotic relationship between environment and community.[13]

Most university administrative offices are housed in the Administration Building. This includes the offices of the President, Provost and senior administration offices.

The Abdul Latif Jameel Hall is home to the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism Training and Research. Facilities include executive training rooms, computer labs, fully equipped video editing and production labs, and specialized labs for graphics, multimedia, radio broadcasting and newspaper production. Abdul Latif Jameel Hall also houses the Heikal Department of Management, the Mohamed Shafik Gabr Economics Department and the Sony Gallery.

The home of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Hall, features labs for psychology and Egyptology and computer-assisted language labs. The AUC Center for the Arts houses an art gallery; 300-seat theater; labs for electronic music and photography; studios for drawing, painting, sculpture and theater design; and studios for music and film editing and production. The School of Sciences and Engineering features spacious, sophisticated labs in every major scientific discipline and a range of specialized fields, from microbiology to systematics, from microprocessors to polymers, and from energy systems to soils. Other highlights include an animal facility, greenhouse, herbarium and structural testing facility.

The Research Centers Building houses the AUC Forum, the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies, the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement and the Yousef Hameel Science and Technology Research Center.

The Dr. Hamza AlKholi Information Center houses AUC’s offices for enrollment, admissions, student financial affairs and student services. The Howard Theatre is located at The Hatem and Janet Mostafa Core Academic Center, along with the Mansour Group Lecture Hall, the Academic Advising Center and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Studies.

There are two theaters within the AUC Center for the Arts, the Malak Gabr Arts Theater and the Gerhart Theater, as well as the Sharjah Art Gallery and offices for the Department of Performing and Visual Arts.

AUC New Campus

The university’s Campus Center provides students with a communal area to eat, congregate, organize trips and attend campus-wide events. Inside the building are a bookstore, gift shop, bank, travel office and the main dining room. There is also a daycare center, a faculty lounge and offices for student services, the travel office and the AUC Press Campus shop.

Near the Campus Center is the student-housing complex. Across from the student residences is the three-story AUC Sports Center, including a 2,000-seat multipurpose court, a jogging track, six squash courts, martial arts and exercise studios, a free weight studio and training courts. Outdoor facilities include a 2,000-seat track and field stadium, swimming pool, soccer field, jogging and cycling track and courts for tennis, basketball, handball and volleyball.[11]

Housing one of the largest English-language collections in the region, AUC’s five-story library includes space for 600,000 volumes in the main library and 100,000 volumes in the Rare Books and Special Collections Library; locked carrels; computer workstations; video and audio production and editing labs; and comprehensive resources for digitizing, microfilming and preserving documents. In addition, on the plaza level of the library, the Learning Commons emphasizes group and collaborative learning. This unique area integrates independent study, interactive learning, multimedia and technology rooms, and copy and writing centers.[11]

The campus also features the Conference and Visitor Center where the 1,400-seat Bassily Auditorium is located, along with the 200-seat Moataz Al Alfi Hall and smaller lecture halls and meeting rooms.

AUC New Cairo was built using 24,000 tons of reinforcing steel, as well as 115,000 square meters of stone, marble, granite cladding and flooring. More than 7,000 workers worked two shifts on the construction site.[14]

Sandstone for the walls of campus buildings was provided by a single quarry in Kom Ombo, 50 kilometers north of Aswan. The stone arrived by truck in giant multi-ton blocks, which were cut and shaped for walls, arches and other uses at a stone-cutting plant built on the site. The walls were constructed according to energy management systems which reduce campus air conditioning and heating energy use by at least 50 percent as compared to conventional construction methods. More than 75 percent of the stone in the Alumni Wall that circles the campus was recycled from stone that would otherwise have been discarded as waste after cutting.

AUC New Cairo

A 1.6-kilometer service tunnel that runs beneath the central avenue along the spine of AUC’s campus is a key element to making its overall pedestrian nature possible. Services accessible via the tunnel include all deliveries and pickups from campus buildings, fiber optic and technology-related wiring, major electrical conduits and plumbing for hot water, domestic water and chilled water for air conditioning. All other pipes for sewage, natural gas, irrigation and fire fighting are buried on the campus, outside the tunnel, around buildings as needed for their purposes.[14]

All of the trees, shrubs and plants—with the exception of the date palms—were propagated and grown at AUC’s Desert Development Center. Many of the trees shade the campus’s 2,000-plus parking places. The total number of date palms is 1,216 and there are a total number of 6,970 trees. In addition, there are 27 fountains, pools and water features.

The Urban Land Institute recognized AUC’s new campus design and construction with a special award recognizing its energy efficiency, its architecture, its capacity for community development.[15] The campus is host to more than 30 undergraduate programs and 15 graduate programs. It offers six schools and ten research centers.

Margaret Scobey, former US Ambassador to Egypt, was among the guests at the inauguration in February 2009.[16] In her remarks, Scobey said, “The new demands of our new world raise the importance of education. We need our future leaders to be diverse and to have a diverse educational experience…Perhaps most importantly, we need leaders who are dedicated to developing a true respect for each other if we are going to effectively work together to harness these forces of change for the greater good.”[16] Ambassador Scobey also delivered a message of congratulations to AUC from US President Barack Obama.[17]

The downtown campus at Tahrir Square continues to house School of Continuing Education courses and is currently being transformed into a cultural center. It includes a new branch of the AUC Bookstore, a café and the Margo Veillon Gallery for Contemporary Egyptian Art.

Governance and administration[edit]

The American University in Cairo is an independent educational institution governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. In addition, there is a panel of trustees emeriti that functions as an advisory board. The Board has its own by-laws and elects a chairperson for an annual term. There are no students on the Board.[18] The Board of Trustees reviews and approves all the major policies, budget, facilities and program development plans for the university.

The university is administered by a President selected by the Board of Trustees. In 2010, the members of the Board voted unanimously to appoint Provost Lisa Anderson as the 11th AUC President, making her the first woman in the presidential role since the university was founded. An ex-officio member of the Board, Anderson assumed the presidency on January 1, 2011.

The President’s cabinet includes the Provost, Vice President and Executive Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Vice President for Planning and Administration, Vice President for Student Affairs, a counselor acting as a liaison between the university and the Egyptian government, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, and Vice President for Finance. The President is also advised by the University Senate and Senior Administrators. The Provost is advised by the Provost’s Council, which includes university deans and a vice provost.

Names of presidents and tenures

  • Lisa Anderson (2011–present)
  • David C. Arnold (2003–2011)
  • John D. Gerhart (1998–2003)
  • Donald McDonald (1990–1997)
  • Richard F. Pedersen (1977–1990)
  • Cecil K. Byrd (1974–1977)
  • Christopher Thoron (1969–1974)
  • Thomas A. Bartlett (1963–1969)
  • Raymond F. McLain (1954–1963)
  • John S. Badeau (1944–1953)
  • Charles Watson (1919–1944)


AUC offers undergraduate programs and graduate programs, as well as continuing education opportunities within its schools and research centers. The university’s English-language liberal arts environment is designed to promote critical thinking, language and cultural skills as well as to foster in students an appreciation of their own culture and heritage and their responsibilities toward society.[19] The university’s objective of promoting international understanding is supported by means of scholarships, learned discourse, a multicultural campus environment and The American University in Cairo Press.

AUC holds institutional accreditation from the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the United States.[20] AUC's engineering programs are accredited by ABET (formerly Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) and the business programs are accredited by the Association to Advance College Schools of Business (AACSB.) [21] In Egypt, AUC operates within the framework of the 1975 protocol with the Egyptian government, which is based on the 1962 Cultural Relations Agreement between the U.S. and Egyptian governments.[22] In the United States, AUC is licensed to grant degrees and is incorporated by the State of Delaware.[22]

Undergraduate and graduate schools

  • School of Business
  • School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS)
  • School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP)
  • School of Sciences and Engineering (SSE)
  • School of Continuing Education (SCE)
  • Graduate School of Education (GSE)

Research centers

  • Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D)
  • AUC Forum
  • Center for Migration and Refugee Studies
  • Center for Translation Studies
  • Cynthia Nelson Institute for Gender and Women's Studies
  • Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations
  • Desert Development Center (DDC)
  • Economic and Business History Research Center
  • El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center
  • John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement
  • John D. Gerhart Field Station in El Gouna
  • Middle East Studies Center
  • Prince Alwaleed American Studies Center
  • Research Advisory Council
  • Social Research Center
  • Office of Institutional Research
  • Office of the Associate Provost for Research Administration
  • Office of Sponsored Programs
  • Yousef Jameel Science and Technology Research Center (YJ-STRC)


Tahrir Square (Downtown Campus)

In 2013, the QS World University Rankings placed AUC 348th in the world and 1st in Egypt.[23]
In 2013, the QS rankings also named the School of Business as second best in Africa and the Middle East and among the top 200 in the world QS Global 200 Business Schools Report.[24]


AUC holds institutional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and from Egypt's National Authority for Quality Assurance and Assessment of Education (NAQAAE).[25]

In addition, many of AUC's departments and programs have received the recognition of their peers through specialized accreditation.

The Science and Engineering Programs was accredited by the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET. AUC's chemistry program received accreditation from the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC).

AUC's School of Business is the first in Egypt and North Africa to be awarded accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International).

Other accreditations include recognition from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), the Commission on English Language Program Accreditation (CEA) and the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET)

Student life[edit]

Part of AUC's mission is to prepare students to become responsible and well-rounded citizens in order to face the challenges of the real world. This is achieved by guiding, mentoring and coaching students through extracurricular activities and student-run organizations.

Residential life

Students wishing to live in university housing have two options: They can reside in residences located on the New Cairo campus, or they may live in a dormitory in Zamalek, a small island on the Nile centrally located in downtown Cairo and approximately an hour's drive from the New Cairo campus.

Student Activities

Its vibrant and dynamic student base distinguishes AUC from other academic institutions in the region. Most of the student activities at AUC are organized by the students and for the students and address a wide variety of social, political and economic issues. Such activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Delta Phi Epsilon (professional), professional foreign service fraternity
  • Entrepreneur's Society
  • The Student Union
  • The Actuarial Science Association
  • TEDxAUC: AUC's platform for Ideas Worth Spreading
  • Developers Inc.
  • Theater and Film Club
  • Model Business Applications
  • Cairo International Model United Nations
  • Model African Union
  • Cairo International Model Arab League
  • Model Council of Ministers
  • The International Conference on Global Economy
  • The International Student Leadership Conference
  • The Leftist Student Movement (AUCLeftists)
  • The Help Club
  • Glow
  • Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)
  • Alashanek Ya Balady (For my country)
  • Al-Quds Club
  • Cairo Friendship Association (CFA)
  • Volunteers in Action
  • Friends in Need
  • The Anti Cancer Team
  • The Safari Club
  • Hand in Hand
  • The Political Science Association
  • Finance Club
  • Mechanical Engineering Association(MEA)
  • Astronomy Club
  • The Psychology Association
  • The Society of Physics Students
  • Construction Engineering Association
  • Electronics Engineering Association
  • Women Empowerment
  • Heya
  • Green Hands
  • Khatwa
  • 3al Raseef
  • Volunteers in Action
  • Trigger Your Mind
  • Robotics
  • Microsoft student Partners
  • Corporate Governance Club
  • Writers For a Third World Nation
  • Salsa Dance Fusion
  • Sabeel
  • Serenity Society
  • Theater and Film Club
  • The Egyptology Club

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable professors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Egypt’s AUC welcomes students from over 100 countries". Bikya Masr. 2010-09-06. Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  2. ^ Murphy, Lawrence R. (1987). The American University in Cairo, 1919-1987. Cairo, Egypt: American University in Cairo Press. p. 1. ISBN 977-424-156-8. 
  3. ^ "AUC History". Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "About the American University in Cairo Press". American University in Cairo Press. Archived from the original on 5 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  5. ^ News@AUC. "Desert Development Center Leaves a Legacy at AUC". Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  6. ^ News@AUC, News@AUC. "New Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment Promotes Service". Retrieved 28 January 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Downtown Cultural Center brochure
  8. ^ The American University in Cairo: 1919-1987, p 37
  9. ^ The American University in Cairo: 1919-1987, p 85
  10. ^ The Daily News, Egypt, February 8, 2009
  11. ^ a b c "The University - The American University in Cairo - acalog ACMS™". 
  12. ^ A City for Learning: AUC’s Campus in New Cairo, 2004, page 20
  13. ^ a b A City for Learning: AUC’s Campus in New Cairo, 2004, page 14
  14. ^ a b "Background". Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  15. ^ "American University in Cairo bags special award from ULI". Education Design Network. 
  16. ^ a b USAID Frontlines, March 2009
  17. ^ "A Grand Opening". Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  18. ^ "Board of Trustees". Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  19. ^ Slackman, Michael (May 5, 2010). "A Campus Where Unlearning Is First". The New York Times. 
  20. ^ Association of American International Colleges and Universities (AAICU)
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  23. ^ "American University in Cairo". QS. Retrieved 2012-12-24. 
  24. ^ "Top Business Schools in Africa and the Middle East". Top MBA. Retrieved 2011-03-12. 
  25. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°1′11.8″N 31°30′1.24″E / 30.019944°N 31.5003444°E / 30.019944; 31.5003444