UNITED NATIONS. AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF CAIRO, TAHRIR SQUARE

 

15 MARCH 2011

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF CAIRO, TAHRIR SQUARE

Dear AUC Alumni and Friends,

The American University in Cairo's historic home on Tahrir Square has given all of us in the AUC community, wherever we are, a personal stake in the recent upheaval in Egypt. We know downtown Cairo well and care deeply about the people and places there. And, just as AUC's Tahrir Square campus is centrally located in Cairo, the American University in Cairo has been pivotal in Egyptian society and culture.

Over its 92-year history, AUC has been committed to the education of responsible citizens and leaders-of individuals who are creative, inventive and committed to making a positive impact in Egypt and the world. AUC's mission is to develop a culture of leadership and community service in its students, and since the events of January 25th we have seen AUC alumni, students, faculty and staff embody these values day in and day out. We are extraordinarily proud of the Egyptian people and of the role our community has played in the last weeks. I hope you share our pride.

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. A growing entrepreneurial sector, rapidly expanding communications technologies, an enlivened arts scene, animated public discourse all reflect, strengthen and amplify the spirit of deliberation, discovery and debate that are at the core of AUC's mission.

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.

We have always believed that education is the key to progress and justice, and it is in that spirit that we began our spring semester. While the coming months will undoubtedly be a period of intense political activity in the country, we expect that we will be able to mount a full and rigorous semester and to contribute to the constructive dialogue that will shape the future of Egypt.

The effects on the University will be far reaching. The Tahrir Square campus suffered minor damage but thanks to the tireless work of our safety and security staff, we not only ensured the integrity of the campus but the safety, security and well-being of our students, staff and faculty. From the gardeners who offered hoses to the teargas stricken protesters to the librarians who brought food and water to those encamped in Tahrir Square, to our Trustees and faculty who are working for constitutional change-the AUC community has shown its true colors. Difficult as these days have been-and there may be more trials to come-it is an honor and privilege to be witness to the fruits of a generation's investment in their children.

We are already planning a variety of activities to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of our community and the opportunities represented by our "front seat to history." The School of Global Affairs and Public Policy is launching a program of special public lectures and workshops on the future of Egyptian political institutions; faculty across the University are designing special interdisciplinary courses to ensure that our students reflect on and nourish the new spirit of civic engagement, such as the initiative on "Sustaining the Revolution," which focuses on civic engagement and the new environmental awareness exhibited in neighborhoods across the country where young people are collecting trash.

We are also launching a new research and documentation project -The University on the Square: Documenting History in Real Time - to preserve the history of these remarkable events for future historians, activists, students and the general public. AUC is collecting objects, artifacts and documents in and around our Tahrir Square campus and developing an archive of oral history and memoirs.

I am strengthened in my conviction that Egypt has an enormously bright future and that as the home of the liberal arts and entrepreneurial and innovative graduate education, AUC and AUCians will play a leading role in the creation of the new Egypt. I hope all of you will join us in seizing the opportunities and shouldering the responsibilities. AUC's unique position in Egyptian society will afford it extraordinary opportunities as the new Egypt is built.

Please stay engaged with AUC. Get involved. Attend lectures. Meet with students. Show your pride in AUC. Give back.

Over the next few weeks, you will be receiving appeals on how to volunteer and support the University. Please consider supporting the AUC Annual Fund as it gives the administration, the flexibility to deploy funds where they will be needed most. Your support will help sustain our students in this time of crisis and change.

Thank you, in advance, for your commitment to making AUC a stronger and better university.

I look forward to working with you all in further realizing the University's commitment to contributing to the well-being of Egypt and the world.

Thank you,
Lisa Anderson
President