Diversity has always been a cornerstone of AUC since its founding. Students of all backgrounds cherish the intercultural exchange and social interaction at the University, not just in the classroom, but in every part of campus.
The AUC Library started off as a small reading room in 1922. In the 1950s, upon the recommendation of then President Raymond F. McLain and with consent from the Weyerhaeuser family, Hill House no longer served as a student dormitory and was renovated to become a modern library. In 1982, the Greek Campus Library was completed. Today, the library is at the center of AUC’s 260-acre campus in New Cairo and houses the largest English-language academic collection in Egypt.
The Miss AUC competition, which began in the early 1930s, was an annual campus tradition crowning the “all-round campus girl.” At the beginning, the winner was chosen solely based on the amount of votes she collected, but by the 1970s, academic achievement and campus activities were considered too. The coronation ceremony, performed by the previous year’s winner, was traditionally followed by a party in the Fountain Area, where the president had the first dance with Miss AUC.
Initially, AUC was intended to be both a preparatory school and a University. The preparatory school opened in October 1920 with 142 students in two classes that were equivalent to the last two years of an American high school. The first diplomas issued were junior college-level certificates given to 20 students in 1923. AUC enrolled its first female student in 1928, the same year in which the first class graduated, with one Bachelor of Science and two Bachelor of Arts degrees awarded. The first master’s degree was awarded in 1950.
Since its early years, AUC placed an emphasis on athletics and physical training as part of the curriculum to enhance student personalities by building sportsmanship and teamwork. This was uncommon in the Middle East at the time, since people did not correlate sports with a college or university. Despite criticism, students, all males in the early 1920s, were required to take two hours of athletics per week. As they became more skilled, they created a pyramid by standing on each other’s shoulders — an AUC landmark. Each athletic season ended with Sports Day, which began in 1921.