Newly returned to the University after 18 days of demonstrations that redefined Egypt’s political landscape, students, staff and faculty gathered for the first University Community Forum of the Spring 2011 semester discussed AUC’s present and future.“AUC is now one of the most important institutions in one of the most important countries of the world during this historic time. Egypt is being transformed, and in ways that make the role AUC can play even more crucial,” said Lisa Anderson in her first public speech as AUC president.
Anderson emphasized the role that the AUC community has to play, and urged all Egyptians to work together to rebuild their country. “Obviously there is much yet to be done in Egypt to secure and harness this emerging dynamism, but that makes our task all the more compelling. This is a time, not only at AUC, but in Egypt and, indeed, in the region and the world, in which wisely placed investments of time, money and imagination will pay enormous returns. In a society and a world eager for the keys that unlock genuine scientific research, real private sector growth, authentic artistic creation, actual political debate, AUC has opportunities and obligations that cannot be ignored,” she added.
In her speech, Anderson recalled that AUC was founded in the spring of 1919 - the same month that the former minister of education, Saad Zaghlul was arrested by the British, prompting demonstrations across the country. The next year, in 1920, the editor of "Al Ahram" wrote that he had received the news of the establishment of an American University in Egypt with joy, in the hope that it will raise the standard of education in Egypt and help develop the scientific movement that is beginning. “More than 90 years separate us from that moment but today AUC remains what it was at its origin- both embedded in the fabric of Egyptian life and representing the promise of a future informed by education, science, optimism- indeed, perhaps even hope and joy,” Anderson said.
At the forum, Anderson announced that the University will be creating an exhibition at its Tahrir Square campus, where artifacts and memorabilia of the revolution willbe displayed.AUC Press is also planning to gather the stories of those involved in the protests as a formal way to memorize events that took place in the Square just yards from AUC’s historic downtown campus.
In addition to the planned exhibit, Provost Medhat Haroun asked for faculty suggestions for courses or workshops that would specifically focus on the Egyptian revolution. “Out of our educational duties and moral obligations, the Provost's Council is launching, this 2011 Spring Semester, an educational initiative to afford the University community the chance to further experience the unique and historical events of the past three weeks,” said Haroun.
The forum’s question and answer session was dominated by talk of the demonstrations and AUC’s role in the future of Egypt. Many proposed ideas of ways to honor the sacrifices of fellow Egyptians as well as ways in which AUC could continue to involve itself in national discourse.