The American University in Cairo (abbreviated to AUC; Arabic: الجامعة الأمريكية بالقاهرة Al-Jame'a Al-Amerikeya Bel-Qāhira) is an independent, English language, private, research university located in Cairo, Egypt. The university offers American-style learning programs at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels, along with a continuing education program.
The AUC student body represents over 50 countries. 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.
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. AUC was intended as both a preparatory school and a university. The preparatory school opened to 142 students on October 5, 1920 in Khairy Pasha palace, which was built in the 1860s. The first diplomas issued were junior college-level certificates given to 20 students in 1923.
Watson wanted to establish a western institution for higher education.
Additionally, there were disputes between university founder Charles A. Watson, who was interested in building the university's academic reputation, and United Presbyterian leaders in the United States who sought to return the university to its Christian roots. Four years later, Watson decided that the university could not afford to maintain its original religious ties and that its best hope was the promotion of good moral and ethical behavior.
At first an institution only for males, the university enrolled its first female student in 1928. That same year, the University graduated its first class, with two Bachelor of Arts and one Bachelor of Sciences degrees awarded.
In 1950, AUC added its first graduate programs to its ongoing bachelor of arts, bachelor of sciences, graduate diploma, and continuing education programs, and in 1951, phased out the preparatory school program. During the Six-Day War, AUC avoided being nationalized, although most American faculty were forced to leave the country. By the mid-1970s, the University offered a broad range of liberal arts and sciences programs. In the following years, the University added bachelors, masters, and diploma programs in engineering, management, computer science, journalism and mass communication and sciences programs, as well as establishing a number of research centers in strategic areas, including business, the social sciences, philanthropy and civic engagement, and science and technology. In the 1950s, the university also changed its name from The American University at Cairo, replacing "at" with "in."
In 1978, the university established the Desert Development Center to promote sustainable development in Egypt's reclaimed desert areas. The Desert Development Center's legacy is being carried forward by the Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment.
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,[further explanation needed] the palace inspired an architectural style that has been replicated throughout Cairo. 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. 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 building featured Oriental Hall, an auditorium and reception room built and decorated in an adaptation of traditional styles, yet responsive to the architectural style of its own time.
Over time AUC added more buildings to what has become known as THE GrEEK CAMPUS, for a total of five buildings and 250,000 square feet in downtown Cairo. Sadat Metro was developed with access to the campus, and its main lines intersect near there. Also nearby is the Ramses Railway Station. The campus wall on Mohamed Mahmoud Street still has revolutionary graffiti put up. The American University in Cairo made an initiative and tried to preserve the wall graffiti.[] Many admirers published and even documented these graffiti by collecting images/photos of the mural taken by visitors, who were present during this historic period.
In the fall of 2008, AUC left the Greek Campus and officially inaugurated AUC New Cairo, a new 260-acre suburban campus in New Cairo, a satellite city about 20 miles (and 45 minutes) from the downtown campus. New Cairo is a governmental development comprising 46,000 acres of land with a projected population of 2.5 million people. AUC New Cairo provides advanced facilities for research and learning, as well as all the modern resources needed to support campus life. 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. 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. Campus spaces serve as virtual laboratories for the study of desert development, biological sciences, and the symbiotic relationship between environment and community. The two campuses together host 36 undergraduate programs and 46 graduate programs. The New Cairo campus offers six schools and ten research centers.
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 Jameel 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.
The AUC Center for the Arts includes two theaters: the Malak Gabr Arts and the Gerhart, as well as the Sharjah Art Gallery and offices for the Department of Performing and Visual Arts.
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 the Office of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Margaret Scobey, former US Ambassador to Egypt, was among the guests at the inauguration in February 2009. 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.”
Ambassador Scobey also delivered a message of congratulations to AUC from US President Barack Obama.
In 2013 AUC signed a 10-year lease agreement with Tahrir Alley Technology Park (TATP), a Cairo-based company that intends to keep the Greek Campus name, to operate the Greek Campus. AUC will retain full ownership. It turned over five buildings to TATP. This campus is to be developed as a technology park, encouraging start-ups and development of small businesses. TATP has said it will provide space on campus for approved artists.
The Urban Land Institute based in the United States recognized AUC’s new campus design and construction with a special award recognizing its energy efficiency, its architecture, its capacity for community development.
The American University in Cairo is an independent educational institution governed by a Board of Trustees. In addition, a panel of trustees emeriti 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.
AUC offers 37 bachelor’s degrees, 44 master’s degrees, and 2 doctoral degrees in applied sciences and engineering in addition to a wide range of graduate diplomas in five schools: Business, Global Affairs and Public Policy, Humanities and Social Sciences, Sciences and Engineering, and the Graduate School of Education. 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.
AUC holds institutional accreditation from the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the United States. 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.) 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. In the United States, AUC is licensed to grant degrees and is incorporated by the State of Delaware. In addition, many of AUC’s academic programs have received specialized accreditation.
Enrollment in academic programs includes over 5,474 undergraduates with an additional 979 graduate students (2017 - 2018). Simultaneously, adult education has also expanded and now serves more than 22,000 students each year in non-credit courses and contracted training programs offered through the School of Continuing Education. 94% of AUC students are Egyptian, with the remaining 6% from around the world.
AUC has 70 student organizations. Most of the student activities at AUC are organized by students in areas of community service, student government, culture and special interests, academics, and student conferences.
Organizations include, but are not limited to:
Dormitories and student housing are located on AUC's New Cairo campus. Housing is organized by the AUC’s Office of Residential Life, helping students transition to living independently and adjusting to university life as well as organizing social events. The residence is composed of 12 units, divided into five male and seven female cottages.
Through the donations of wealthy benefactors, the American University in Cairo has in recent years established several endowed chairs for those professors whom the University recognizes as world renowned scholars.
The following professors hold endowed chairs at the American University:
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