The American University in Cairo (AUC) held its mid-year commencement for 496 graduate and undergraduate degree candidates, a ceremony that had been postponed earlier in the year due to the Egyptian revolution. President Lisa Anderson, in her first official ceremony as president of the university, awarded 389 undergraduate degrees and 107 graduate degrees to candidates from each of AUC’s schools and addressed the graduates as the commencement speaker.
In her commencement address, President Anderson told the graduates that they had the advantage of having attended a university in one of the most dynamic and vibrant cities in the world, located in a country and region now on the brink of a new era in history. “In so far as we are to be a global resource, however, it is because we are in Cairo—embedded, active, involved partners, colleagues and collaborators,” she declared. “ As our students develop business plans for small and medium enterprises, as our faculty perform in theater and film, as our alumni manage social service agencies, as our researchers develop new vaccines and discover new organisms, we contribute tangibly to the scientific, intellectual, business, social and political lives of our communities in Cairo.”
Anderson’s address also looked to the future of both AUC and Egypt. “AUC’s promise in the twenty-first century is a reflection of the ambition of our new campus, and the new opportunities in global higher education. But it is also an expression of new ambitions and opportunities in Egypt itself. Thanks in no small measure to the energy and insight of AUC alumni, faculty and students, Egypt is being transformed, and in ways that make the role AUC can play even more crucial,” she said. “We are consumed with the excitement of political life now, as we should be, but do not forget that there is a growing entrepreneurial sector, rapidly expanding communications technologies, an enlivened arts scene, animated (and sometimes unruly) public discourse. All of this reflects, strengthens and amplifies the spirit of deliberation, discovery and debate that are at the core of AUC’s mission.”
Fifty-three undergraduates graduated with high honors and 36 with highest honors, while several students were chosen for individual awards recognizing superior academic enterprise and contributions to campus and community life. The President’s Cup and the associated Mohamed M. El-Beleidy Academic Award, both of which go to the student with the highest grade point average, were awarded to Farida Amin, a psychology major with a minor in business administration. Amin also shared the Nadia Younes Award for Public and Humanitarian Service with Faisal Kattan.
The Ahmed H. Zewail Prize for Excellence in the Sciences and the Humanities was awarded to Karen Beshay; the Ahmed El Mehallawi Family Award, given to a senior who has demonstrated academic achievement and community involvement through extra-curricular activities, was awarded to Ahmed Reda and the Parents Association Cup was awarded to Heidi El Guindy.
The Dr. Abdel Rahman El Sawy Award, given to the Public School Scholarship Fund student with the highest grade point average in the engineering department, was awarded to Eslam Abd Elatif and the Engineer Bahgat Hassanein Award in Construction Engineering, a prize for the construction engineering student with the highest grade point average, went to Yosr Alaa Saad El Din Badran. The Samia El Barkouky Award in Egyptology, which is presented to an academically deserving student of Egyptology, went to Sabine Harding.
Faculty were also honored for excellence in academe. Ashraf Abdelbar, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Hanadi Salem, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, were presented with the Excellence in Research and Creative Endeavors Award. Abdelbar was recognized for his research on computational models that help understand aspects of human thought processes and Salem for her work in nanotechnology, a field in which AUC is quickly emerging as a leader.
Adham Ramadan, associate professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry, was awarded the Excellence in Academic Service Award for his service to the University’. The Excellence in Teaching Award was given to two faculty members, Mona Amer, assistant professor of psychology, and Iman Soliman executive director of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad.