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The AUC Timeline

A timeline of the history of The American University in Cairo

Here’s a look through the major milestones in AUC’s 100-year legacy in Cairo.


Early 1900s

  • Charles Watson studies educational system in Egypt

1912

  • Charles Watson completes report outlining vision for AUC

1919

  • AUC officially incorporated in Washington, D.C.

1920

  • Student Union formed
  • First 142 students begin classes equivalent to the final two years of high school

1921

  • School of Oriental Studies opens

1923

  • First commencement

1924

  • Division of Extension (forerunner to the School of Continuing Education) established
  • New York State Board of Regents recognizes AUC degrees as equivalent to junior college degrees

1925

  • First campus newspaper, The AUC Review, issued

1926

  • Old Boys Club created for alumni

1927

  • AUC offers four years of secondary school and four years of college

1928

  • First University-level bachelor’s degrees awarded to three students
  • Ewart Memorial Hall opens
  • AUC welcomes first female student, Eva Habib el-Masri ’31

1929

  • Hill family starts AUC’s first endowment fund with $450,000

1931

  • Old Boys Club develops into Alumni Association
  • Gillespie family donates $65,000 to build Oriental Hall

1937

  • Om Kolthoum starts performing in Ewart Hall
Om Kolthoum

1938

  • Campus Caravan replaces The AUC Review

1940

  • King Abdullah of Jordan visits AUC

1941

  • AUC hosts concerts in Ewart Hall for allied soldiers in Egypt and classes for U.S. soldiers

1942

  • AUC students petition Ministry of War to allow an instructor to teach them military formations, which soon replaced acrobatics and team sports

1944

  • Watson decorated by King Farouk: High Decoration of the Order of Ismail — one of the highest honors conferred by the Egyptian government at the time

1950

  • First graduate degree awarded in Arabic language and literature

1951

  • Last preparatory class graduates, making AUC strictly a University-level institution
Helen Keller speaking at AUC, 1952

1952

  • Helen Keller visits AUC

1953

  • Hill House formally dedicated as the first student dormitory on campus
  • Social Research Center founded

1954

  • Egyptian Presidents Gamal Abdul Nasser and Mohammed Naguib attend AUC’s Arabic Language Day Convocation

1956

  • English Language Institute opens
  • AUC engages in relief efforts for Egyptians affected by Suez Crisis
  • AUC Archives acquires Creswell Collection

1959

  • Hill House rededicated as a library

1960

  • AUC Press established

1961

  • AUC’s name changes from “at Cairo” to “in Cairo”


  • Social Research Center’s Ethnographic Survey of Egyptian Nubia, supported by the Ford Foundation, launched

1964

  • Buildings purchased from the Greek community (Greek Campus)
  • AUC purchases Falaki land to build a student dormitory
The Falaki Building

1966

  • Science Building completed

1967

  • Center for Arabic Study Abroad established and based at AUC
  • Egyptian government sequestrator assigned to AUC until 1975, when replaced by the counselor position

1960s – 1970s

  • Distinguished Visiting Professor program launched at AUC

1972

  • AUC Press obtains exclusive English-language rights to the works of Naguib Mahfouz

1974

  • Ministry of Higher Education recognizes all but three AUC degrees as equivalent to those offered by Egyptian universities
  • Sports programs win representation in National Universities Sports Union

1975

  • Egyptian government relinquishes control of AUC
  • Protocol established between Board of Trustees and the Egyptian government

1978

  • AUC Press publishes first Naguib Mahfouz novel in English

1979

  • Desert Development Center approved

1982

  • New Greek Campus library completed
  • AUC receives largest single donation at the time ($5 million) from Abdul Latif Jameel
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education grants AUC full accreditation

1985

  • Egypt’s first University bookstore opens
  • AIESEC AUC founded. AIESEC is the world’s largest youth-driven organization

1987

  • First documentation of AUC history in The American University in Cairo, 1919 -1987, written by Lawrence R. Murphy, former AUC faculty member

1988

  • Naguib Mahfouz wins Nobel Prize. AUC Press was his English-language publisher and worldwide agent
  • Last undergraduate commencement in Ewart Hall (February 1988)

1989

  • Abdul Latif Jameel Building for Middle East Management Studies inaugurated
  • Core Curriculum introduced
  • Model United Nations starts — first in the Middle East
  • AUC simulates Earth Day and Environmental Action

1990

  • Model Arab League starts
  • AUC launches Gulf War Scholarship to assist students affected by Iraq War

1991

  • AUC opens Zamalek hostel and classroom building

1992

  • Rare Books and Special Collections Library inaugurated

1993

  • Noam Chomsky speaks at AUC
  • University Senate established
  • AUC one of only three universities in the region to receive a Sasakawa Peace Foundation grant
  • Academic programs organized into three schools: Humanities and Social Sciences; Business, Economics and Communications; Sciences and Engineering
  • First AUC Research Conference

1994

  • AUC Archives acquires Hassan Fathy collection
  • AUC’s 75th anniversary
  • New mission statement

1995

  • Grand Mufti Sheikh Muhammad Tantawi and Pope Shenouda III speak at AUC
  • AUC Professor Kent Weeks rediscovers Tomb KV5 in Valley of the Kings

1996

  • AUC Press establishes Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature

1997

  • AUC purchases land in New Cairo

1999

  • U.S. First Lady Hillary Clinton speaks in Ewart Hall  
  • AUC becomes first University outside the U.S. to receive accreditation from the Computer Science Accreditation Board (now ABET)

2000

  • Her Majesty Queen of Jordan Rania Al Abdullah ’91 visits AUC. Distinguished guests in the first years of the century included Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson, Kofi Annan, Condoleezza Rice and Ahmed Zewail
  • AUC Archives acquires Van Leo collection

2003

  • New Cairo Campus design completed and cornerstone laid by Egypt’s First Lady Suzanne Mubarak ’77, ’82
  • Egyptian Chair in Coptic Heritage established — the only such program in Egypt
  • Social Research Center’s 50th anniversary

2004

  • AUC signs New Cairo campus construction contract
  • AUC establishes Leadership for Education and Development program

2005

  • Department of Law established
  • Volunteers in Action student club holds first campus wedding for orphan brides

2006

  • John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement founded

2007

  • AUC Press publishes 1,000th book

2008

  • First day of class on the New Cairo campus

2009

  • New Cairo campus inauguration
  • AUC’s 90th anniversary

2010

  • PhD program begins in applied sciences and engineering
  • AUC launches three schools: School of Business, School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and Graduate School of Education
  • 50th anniversary of AUC Press
  • Principals’ Academy first in the region
  • First visually impaired student graduates from AUC
  • AUC first and only University in Egypt to be accredited by the National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education

2011

  • AUC launches The Cairo Review of Global Affairs
  • New freedom of expression policy
  • Center for Translation Studies launched
  • Management Center accredited by Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training
Cancer Marathon, November, 2012

2012

  • First cohort of Yousef Jameel GAPP Public Leadership fellows enter AUC
  • Undergraduate chemistry program first in Egypt to be internationally accredited
  • Special Olympics Day held on campus for the first time
  • First TEDxAUC
  • AUC hosts Terry Fox Run for the first time to raise funds for cancer hospital
  • AUC releases region’s first Carbon Footprint Report
  • Graduation of first undergraduate class to study entirely on the New Cairo campus
Commencement, February 2012

2013

  • Academy of Liberal Arts and Academic Advising Center launched; freshman program revamped
  • Cairo International Model United Nations celebrates 25th anniversary
MUN 25th Anniversary Model United Nations Celebration
  • Eduniversal ranks seven master’s programs top in Africa
  • AUC establishes career centers in national universities
  • Greek Campus leased to become Egypt’s first downtown technology park
  • Partnership between AUC and MIT Enterprise Forum
  • D-Kimia, Egypt’s first University spinoff, markets affordable hepatitis C tests
  • Research Institute for a Sustainable Environment successor to Desert Development Center
  • First nanotechnology master’s students graduate
  • Faculty housing first in Egypt to embed green design, green roof

2014

Yosra El Maghraby (’04, ’08, ’14), a construction engineer and AUC’s first-ever PhD
  • First PhD student graduates
  • Triple-crown accreditation for School of Business
  • AUC pioneers free online courses in Arabic (MOOCs) with Edraak
  • AUC ranked top green campus in Africa, top third worldwide in GreenMetric Ranking
The Venture Lab startup space
  • AUC Venture Lab launched as the first University incubator in Egypt, ranked by UBI Global among top in region
  • AUC’s strategic plan completed
AUC New Cairo campus grounds, October 2012
  • Architecture program first in region to receive international validation
  • AUC faculty join Egypt’s Presidential Specialized Council for Education and Scientific Research
  • AUC tops QS World University Rankings in Egypt
  • School of Continuing Education celebrates 90 years
  • First AUC Community Day celebrates campus unity, unveils eagle mascot

The Eagle mascot at AUC Community Day
  • AUC portal lights up in blue for World Autism Day
Autism Awareness Day at AUC

2015

  • AUC only college outside North America in Princeton Review’s Green Colleges Guide
  • AUC partners with Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation on cardiac research
  • AUC partners with Ministry of Justice to train judges, enhance legal education
  • AUC launches region’s first cocurricular transcript
  • Highest number of applicants in AUC’s history; selectivity rate for incoming students among top 100 universities in the United States
  • QS Rankings place AUC among world’s top universities
  • AUC third outside the United States to receive NASPAA accreditation for public policy, public administration master’s programs
  • AUC featured in UN’s Greening Universities Toolkit as a global exemplar of sustainability
  • Neighborhood Initiative launched

2016

  • First graphic design students graduate
  • AUC first University outside the U.S. to host Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute Cairo
  • AUC hosts first community psychology conference in Africa and the MENA region
  • First AUC Research Day
  • First cohort of Al Ghurair STEM Scholars join AUC
  • Students and alumni compete in Rio 2016 Olympics
  • AUC receives donation of more than 5,000 books from the private library of the late Egyptian journalist Mustafa Amin

2017

  • AUC first University in the region to offer a blended degree, pairing with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education
  • Udacity partnership on blended learning
  • AUC first in the region to host LafargeHolcim Sustainable Architecture Competition
  • Middle East Strategy Task Force names AUC as one of few American universities in the region that are potential “hubs of excellence”
  • AUC takes initiative to transfer nearly 5,000 Islamic, Coptic, Pharaonic, Greek and Roman antiquities to the protection of the Egyptian government. AUC had been in legal possession of these antiquities since the 1960s, ensuring their preservation
  • Eduniversal ranks 10 AUC graduate programs among top in Africa
  • HUSSLab launched, with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • First AUC Research Week
  • First University FabLab in the region, launched by AUC students
  • Master of Public Administration and Master of Public Policy first worldwide to receive triple crown accreditation in the field of public affairs education
  • AUC hosts NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition — held for the first time in the MENA region
  • AUC delegation takes home six of seven awards at Egypt’s first World Youth Forum
  • AUC’s Career Center launches USAID-funded program to establish 20 University Centers for Career Development in 12 public Egyptian universities

2018

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education reaffirms its accreditation of AUC through the 2026- 2027 academic year
  • Tobacco-Free Community initiative launched
  • Center for Arabic Study Abroad celebrates 50th anniversary
  • First University cashless program in the region, AUC Coin
  • Department of Accounting accredited by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants in the United Kingdom
  • For ninth consecutive year, Cairo International Model United Nations receives Outstanding Delegation awards at National Model United Nations conference in New York
  • Master of Arts in television and digital journalism fully accredited by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Universities
  • AUC hosts International Branch Campuses model forum
  • AUC named on the Forbes list of top U.S. colleges overseas
  • Actuarial science and biology programs accredited by ABET
  • King’s College London and Harvard University partnerships established. AUC now has more than 170 international partnerships
  • New Cairo campus celebrates 10th anniversary
  • Institute of Global Health and Human Ecology launched
  • Centennial coin designed by students, minted by the Egyptian government
  • AUC signs agreement with Naguib Sawiris to establish and renovate the Tahrir Cultural Center on the Tahrir Square campus
  • Alumni Council established

2019: AUC celebrates 100th anniversary

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