American University in Cairo

American University in Cairo
الجامعة الأمريكية بالقاهرة
Type Private
Established 1919
President Francis J. Ricciardone
Provost Sherif Sedky
Academic staff
Full-time 423
Part-time 126
Students 6,835
Undergraduates 5,561
Postgraduates 1,178
Location Cairo, Egypt
Campus New Cairo and Tahrir Square
Mascot Eagle "Horus"

The American University in Cairo (abbreviated to AUC; Egyptian Arabic: الجامعة الأمريكية بالقاهرة El Gam‘a El Amrikiya Bel Qāhira) is an independent, English language, 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 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.

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).[2]


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.[3] 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.[4]

Some Egyptians did not welcome the creation of a Western-based university, whose religious ties some considered problematic. In 1932, a Muslim student reported that he had been kidnapped by members of the AUC faculty in the hope of converting him, but was later released. The Egyptian press used this as a chance to lash out at the university. A few months later, a Muslim student failed his course and accused the AUC of using missionary tactics and degrading Islam. This was followed by another round of harsh critiques from local press. These accounts were most likely exaggerated, but locals believed them likely because of factors such as required biblical studies courses.[5]

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. In 1922, after years of writing that the university should be more faithful to its original missionary-related purposes, minister J.R. Alexander met with Watson, who consequently saw an even bigger divide between his goals and those of the church. 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. This decision by Watson allowed the university to grow, but at the expense of abandoning its original mission.[6]

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. 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."

The American University in Cairo Press was established in 1960; today, it publishes up to 60 books annually.[7]

In 1978, the university established the Desert Development Center to promote sustainable development in Egypt's reclaimed desert areas.[8] The Desert Development Center's legacy is being carried forward by the Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment.[9]


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.[10] 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.[11] 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,[12] yet responsive to the architectural style of its own time.[10]

Tahrir Square (Downtown Campus)

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.[13] 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 where some of "Cairo's bloodiest and most infamous clashes have taken place.".[13][13]

New Cairo campus

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.[14] AUC New Cairo provides advanced facilities for research and learning, as well as all the modern resources needed to support campus life.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] Campus spaces serve as virtual laboratories for the study of desert development, biological sciences, and the symbiotic relationship between environment and community.[17] 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.

AUC New Cairo

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.[15]

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.[15]

During the 2008-2009 Academic year, AUC's newspaper Caravan printed an Investigative Report on March 1, 2009 reporting that at least two people were killed in the construction of the New Campus. Campus security was called in when hundreds of workers protested that one killed worker's family supposedly had not been compensated.[18] Caravan also reported that because of the high price of food and lack of outside options due to the campus's obscure location, workers were frequently seen forced to resort to students' leftovers.[19] Additionally, a large number of food poisoning cases on the new campus has resulted in one food outlet being temporarily shut down.[20][21]

Construction of New Cairo campus

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.[22]

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.[22]

Inauguration and awards

Margaret Scobey, former US Ambassador to Egypt, was among the guests at the inauguration in February 2009.[23] 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.”[23]

Ambassador Scobey also delivered a message of congratulations to AUC from US President Barack Obama.[24]

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.[25] TATP has said it will provide space on campus for approved artists.[13]

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.[26]

Governance and Administration

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.[27]

University presidents


AUC offers 36 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.[29]

AUC holds institutional accreditation from the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools in the United States.[30] 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.)[31] 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.[32] In the United States, AUC is licensed to grant degrees and is incorporated by the State of Delaware.[32] In addition, many of AUC’s academic programs have received specialized accreditation.

Enrollment in academic programs includes over 5,500 undergraduates with an additional 1,178 graduate students (Fall 2015). Simultaneously, adult education has also expanded and now serves more than 19,000 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.

Undergraduate and graduate schools

Research centers


Student Life

Student activities

AUC has 70 student organizations.[36] 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.

AUC New Campus

Organizations include, but are not limited to:

Dormitories and student housing

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.[42]

Notable Alumni

Notable Professors

Endowed Professorships

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.[43]

The following professors hold endowed chairs at the American University:

See also


  1. "Egypt's AUC welcomes students from over 100 countries". Bikya Masr. 2010-09-06. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  2. "Accreditation". Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  3. 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.
  4. "AUC History". Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  5. Carter, B. L. (1984). "On Spreading the Gospel to Egyptians Sitting in Darkness: The Political Problem of Missionaries in Egypt in the 1930s". Middle Eastern Studies. 20 (4): 18–36 [p. 22]. doi:10.1080/00263208408700597. JSTOR 4283028.
  6. Heather J. Sharkey, American Evangelicals in Egypt, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 154-67
  7. "About the American University in Cairo Press". American University in Cairo Press. Archived from the original on 5 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  8. News@AUC. "Desert Development Center Leaves a Legacy at AUC". Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  9. News@AUC, News@AUC. "New Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment Promotes Service". Retrieved 28 January 2014.
  10. 1 2 Downtown Cultural Center brochure
  11. The American University in Cairo: 1919-1987, p 37
  12. The American University in Cairo: 1919-1987, p 85
  13. 1 2 3 4 Sophia Jones, "Cairo's Tahrir Square to Get a New neighbor: A Mini Silicon Valley", Huffington Post, 15 November 2013, accessed 28 January 2016
  14. The Daily News (Egypt), 8 February 2009
  15. 1 2 3 "The University - The American University in Cairo - acalog ACMS™".
  16. A City for Learning: AUC’s Campus in New Cairo, 2004, page 20
  17. 1 2 A City for Learning: AUC’s Campus in New Cairo, 2004, page 14
  18. "Inside: The quiet lives and deaths of our workers And, why you should reflect" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  19. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 5, 2009. Retrieved September 9, 2009.
  20. "Students blame Tabasco for food poisoning". AUC Caravan. 2010-03-22. Archived from the original on 5 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  21. "AUC shuts down Tabasco over food poisoning cases". AUC Caravan. 2010-05-18. Archived from the original on 5 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-12.
  22. 1 2 "Background". Retrieved 2012-09-20.
  23. 1 2 USAID Frontlines, March 2009
  24. "A Grand Opening". Archived from the original on 2012-10-22. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
  25. "AUC'S GREEK CAMPUS TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO EGYPT'S FIRST TECHNOLOGY PARK". November 14, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  26. "American University in Cairo bags special award from ULI". Education Design Network.
  27. "Board of Trustees". Archived from the original on 2012-09-08. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
  28. "Francis J. Ricciardone Named President of the American University in Cairo". The American University in Cairo. 2016-03-02. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  29. Slackman, Michael (May 5, 2010). "A Campus Where Unlearning Is First". The New York Times.
  30. Association of American International Colleges and Universities (AAICU)
  31. 1 2 "AUC's Accreditation". Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  32. "QS World University Rankings® 2015/16". Top Universities. 2015-09-11. Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  33. "Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking in Egypt". Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  34. "Overall Ranking 2015 | Greenmetric UI". Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  35. "Student Organizations and Clubs". The American University in Cairo. 2015-03-31. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  36. "AUC Developers Inc.". AUC Developers Inc.
  37. "Astronomy Club". Facebook.
  40. "TEDxAUC Official Website".
  41. "Housing". The American University in Cairo. 2015-03-31. Retrieved 2016-05-15.
  42. "Endowed Professorships". The American University in Cairo. Retrieved 2016-03-26.

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

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