The American University in Cairo Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary

By Sundstrom, Mary Judith; Stout, Howdy | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, September 1995 | Go to article overview

The American University in Cairo Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary


Sundstrom, Mary Judith, Stout, Howdy, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


The American University in Cairo Celebrates Its 75th Anniversary

By Mary Judith Sundstrom and Howdy Stout

Charles R. Watson, an American born in Egypt, had a vision of establishing a private, English-language university in Cairo, calling for high standards of scholarship and the promotion of international understanding. He founded The American University in Cairo (AUC) in 1919 with the assistance of other interested American citizens.

True to its mission, The American University in Cairo offers liberal arts and professional education in a framework that respects the cultural values of the Arab world. AUC has operated without interruption since its founding and completed 75 years of service to Egypt and the Middle East during the 1994-95 academic year.

"In a time when bridging the cultural divide between East and West has assumed a new sense of urgency," said Egypt's first lady, Suzanne Mubarak, herself an AUC graduate, "The American University in Cairo, with its educational principles and its solid adherence to the culture and traditions of Egypt, exemplifies the best of both worlds."

Over 4,200 students representing more than 50 nations enroll annually in AUC's undergraduate and graduate programs. At AUC, Egyptian and Middle Eastern students prepare themselves for successful careers and positions of leadership. Students from outside the Middle East learn the language, history and culture of the Arab world, aided by their immersion in the daily life of Cairo. Among AUC's 13,000 alumni are CEOs and senior executives of major corporations, diplomats, entrepreneurs, government officials, journalists, scholars, scientists, writers and a head of state.

"There are many AUC alumni who have come from all over the world to study here, and who have gone on to many different careers in their home countries and abroad," said U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Edward S. Walker, who studied Arabic at AUC in 1977. "They have carried the legacy of AUC with them--an understanding that helps build a bridge between cultures."

The university offers one of the largest adult-education programs in the Middle East (11,000 students per trimester) and conducts applied research through its academic departments and two research centers: the Social Research Center and Desert Development Center.

Mrs. Mubarak and Ambassador Walker were among Egyptian and foreign dignitaries who attended ceremonies opening a year-long observance of the 75th anniversary on Sept. 26, 1994. Continuing in its role of bridge-builder by promoting public discourse and dialogue on issues facing Egypt and the Middle East, the university hosted numerous lectures and symposia in both Egypt and the United States.

U.S. Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. delivered the keynote address at AUC's symposium Sept. 4 entitled "Population and Development: Implications for Egypt and the Region," held in conjunction with the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development. Panelists included Timothy E. Wirth, undersecretary of state for global affairs, and administrator Brian Atwood of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

In November 1994 and again in May 1995 in New York City, the university hosted two AUC Forum programs. The November program, entitled "The Peace Process: Where Do We Go From Here," featured panelists Richard W. Murphy, senior Middle East fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations, and David M. Satterfield of the National Security Council. Former Senator Robert W. Kasten, Jr. of Wisconsin, an AUC trustee, moderated the event.

The May forum, entitled "The Future of Egypt's Past," featured panelists Dorothea Arnold of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Richard Fazzini from the Brooklyn Museum, Mark Lehner of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, and AUC Professor Kent Weeks. Dr. Abdel Halim Nur-El-Din, secretary-general of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, gave the guest lecture and W.

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