Professor Amr Shaarawi, associate dean of graduate studies at The American University in Cairo (AUC) was selected to serve as Provost succeeding the late Provost Medhat Haroun. During his term as provost, Shaarawi’s main goal is to develop and build on the academic strategic plan established by his predecessor. “I have worked closely with Provost Haroun since 2006, as associate dean in the School of Sciences and Engineering and later as dean of graduate studies,” said Shaarawi. “The kind of work he did to improve academic quality, recruit and retain high-quality faculty, and advance the research agenda at AUC was exemplary. I plan to continue in his path.”
Shaarawi’s top priority is academic advising. “Advising can be a source of frustration for many students, and we are working to make it a smooth and efficient process for everyone,” said Shaarawi, adding that Provost Haroun had already made great strides in that respect, from establishing the Advising, Registration and Mentoring Task Force to creating an academic advising center. “We shall be able to electronically track student demand for courses in order to keep ahead of their needs and adjust the academic offerings to satisfy these needs. We are also planning to revisit academic programs for consolidation and restructuring, as well as revisit freshman offerings to make them more in line with what is expected of students during their first year at the University.”
Another main focus for Shaarawi is the enhancement of graduate studies. “We are currently quantitatively evaluating the performance of graduate programs to be able to pinpoint any problems or difficulties ahead of time,” he said. “We are examining everything, from academic curricula, theses and faculty to fellowships and research facilities, seeing how we can take them to another level.”
With research, Shaarawi would like to see the type of work conducted at the University more visible on a national and international scale. “AUC is one of the top research institutions in Egypt,” he said. “On average, our faculty members are publishing five times as much citable research papers as their counterparts in other Egyptian universities.”
Shaarawi emphasized that it is not just about quantity, but quality. “Our faculty are carrying out cutting-edge research that has far-reaching impact not just inside Egypt, but globally as well. We are doing much better than what many people know,” he said, adding, “We will continue to raise funds for research, as well as involve graduate and undergraduate students in the diverse research activities conducted at the University. Ultimately, faculty research adds to the quality of teaching.”
On a departmental level, Shaarawi hopes to electronically document and update policies and procedures for all academic schools. “We are working on implementing an accessible electronic archiving system for each department and school through which all governance operations would be documented,” he explained. “This is not only useful for each school and department to build on, but it also keeps the memory of the institution alive.”
Shaarawi is the holder of two BSc degrees, one in electrical engineering (1978) and one in physics (1980), both from Cairo University. He received his MSc (1984) and PhD (1989) degrees in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He joined the Physics department at AUC in September 1999 and he becomes affiliated with the Youssef Jameel Science and Technology Research Center. His research interests include theoretical studies of ultra-wideband localized pulses and ultra-fast transmission of tunneling pulses. In addition, he works on modeling of ultra-short slowly decaying pulses, their generation, propagation and scattering.
From September 2006 to August 2010, Shaarawi was the associate dean for graduate studies and research at the School of Sciences and Engineering, a period that witnessed a significant increase in the number graduate programs offered by the School, including the first PhD program in applied sciences and engineering.