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AUS Board of Trustees approves three research centers
His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), chaired the meeting of the university's Board of Trustees held at the AUS main building today, February 19, and expressed satisfaction at the progress made by AUS over the past quarter. During the meeting, the Sharjah Ruler thanked the board members for their commitment and dedication toward the development of the university and approved a number of important initiatives.
Following the meeting, Dr. Peter Heath, Chancellor of AUS, announced that the board had approved in concept three research centers at the university, namely the Gulf Coastal Ecosystem Research Center, the Islamic Finance and Banking Center, and a Humanities Studies Center to pursue scholarly interest in regional culture, language, art, music, architecture and poetry.
"The development of research centers and institutes provides an effective means for encouraging and sustaining collaboration among faculty within AUS and with partners outside the university," stated Chancellor Heath.
Dr. Heath said such centers would foster innovative approaches to understanding complex and timely issues. "We believe that the establishment of a small number of centers within well-defined areas of concentration can enhance the quality of research and teaching at AUS," he said.
Dr. Heath said that the board approved the Gulf Coastal Ecosystem Research Center to undertake long-term, multidisciplinary environmental monitoring, research and education with a focus on the Gulf as a vital ecosystem of global importance. "The center will provide a platform for collaboration among biologists, marine biologists, chemists, biochemists, biophysicists, geologists, civil and environmental engineers, and others," he said.
He said the board also approved the Islamic Finance and Banking Center, which will serve as a focal point for instruction, research and outreach activities at both the regional and international levels. Funded by the Sharjah Islamic Bank, the center will aim to enable AUS to become a recognized leader in Islamic business education, both in the Gulf and beyond, Chancellor Heath added.
The Arab Humanities and Sciences Center will pursue advanced scholarly interest in language, art, music, architecture, poetry and cultural practices of the region, and serve as a hub for excellence in language and cultural instruction for non-Arabs, Chancellor Heath said. "The UAE sits at the crossroads of the Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Therefore, the creation of this center at AUS has the distinct advantage of becoming an academic center that promotes research designed to understand the region's complex ethnic, cultural and historical bonds," he said.
Dr. Heath said that the board had also approved the election of Dr. S. Georgia Nugent, President of Kenyon College, Ohio, USA, to the membership of the board. Welcoming the election, Dr. Heath said, "Dr. Nugent has experience as a graduate, professor and academic administrator at renowned institutions, and in the light of her current role as Chair of the Board of the Council of Independent Colleges, she is exceedingly qualified to serve on the Board of Trustees of AUS."
The Board of Trustees also passed a resolution of appreciation for the following VIP Friends of the university: Sharjah Municipality and Bee'ah for an AED 30 million endowment for the Gulf Coastal Ecosystem Research Center; Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank for the AED 5 million endowment of the ADIB Scholarship Fund at AUS; Julphar for an AED 3 million endowment of the Julphar Scholarship Fund at AUS; the Moafaq Al Gaddah Group for AED 1 million to endow the Moafaq Al Gaddah Scholarship Fund at AUS; and Najat Meki for AED 1 million to endow the Najat Meki Art Donation. A total of AED 66 million in endowments was received by AUS between November 2011 and February 2012, according to a report to the board by the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs.
The Board of Trustees meeting also witnessed the signing ceremony of the formal agreement that marks the future establishment of the Gulf Coastal Ecosystem Research Center, which will be funded through a generous AED 30 million endowment from Bee'ah. In presence of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah and under his aegis, the agreement was signed by Dr. Peter Heath and His Excellency Salem Al Owais Chairman of the Board of Bee'ah. Also present at the signing were Sultan al Mualla, Director General of Sharjah Municipality, Khalid Al Huraimel, CEO of Bee'ah, Dr. Thomas Hochstetler, the AUS Provost, Dr. Nada Mourtada, Vice Chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs and Salem Al Qaseer, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs.
The Board also announced the activation of the AUS-US Foundation which will be led by AUS Trustee Dr. Roderick French and thanked trustee Riad Sadek for his generous donation of the seed funds for this new venture. The Foundation will receive the tax exempt contributions to the AUS endowment fund in collaboration with the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs.
Dr. Heath said that the board ha d also approved the proposed tuition and dormitory fees for the academic year 2013-2014. It also received updates and reports on various other important university matters.
Members of the AUS Board of Trustees are: His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairman of the Board and President of AUS; Dr. Ali Abdullah Al Shamlan, Director-General of the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, Kuwait; Dr. MaryAnn Baenninger, President, College of Saint Benedict, Minnesota, USA; Mr. Joseph L. Brand, Senior Partner, Patton Boggs LLP, Washington, DC, USA; Professor Lord Alec Broers, Member of the British House of Lords, UK; Dr. Anthony George Coates, Director of the Museum of Biodiversity, the Bridge of Life, Republic of Panama, and Senior Scientist Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution, USA; Mr. Charles Cotton, Director of Cambridge Enterprise, University of Cambridge, UK; Mr. Abdul Jalil Yousuf Darwish, Chairman of UAE Enterprises Group; Dr. Leroy S. Fletcher, Regents Professor Emeritus and Thomas A. Dietz Professor Emeritus, Texas A&M University, USA; Dr. Roderick S. French, Chancellor Emeritus, AUS; Dr. Peter Heath, AUS Chancellor; Mr. Hamid D. Jafar, Chairman and CEO, Crescent Petroleum Company, Sharjah; Dr. Cornelius Kerwin, President, American University, Washington, DC, USA; Baroness Onora O'Neill of Bengarve, CBE PBA FMedSci, Member of the British House of Lords, UK; Mr. Riad T. Sadek, Chairman of Al Habtoor Leighton Group, Dubai; and Mr. Maroun A. Semaan, President and CEO, Petrofac International Ltd., Sharjah. The meeting was also attended by senior AUS officials.