Lisa Anderson

Lisaanderson In Egypt Today, a profile of the new provost of the American University in Cairo:

After 20 years at Columbia, the move to Cairo and AUC is a big shift for Anderson, whose name became publicly associated with the Middle East when she invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak at the Columbia World Leaders Forum in 2006. The controversial invitation — heavily criticized in the US and later rescinded by the university because of “security concerns” — illustrates Anderson’s forthright personality as a leader who is not afraid of challenges.

Anderson’s relationship with Egypt began approximately 30 years ago when she was a student at AUC’s Center for Arabic Study Abroad.

“The current state of my Arabic does not reflect well on the program,” she laughs, “but I had a really wonderful time. It was just one of those experiences that begins to change what you aspire to do. I ended up being a political scientist who works a lot in the Middle East.”

In September 2007, Anderson was appointed to AUC’s Board of Trustees along with Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and former US Assistant Secretary of State Dina Habib Powell.

“All along, I had been following AUC’s ambitious fundraising efforts for the new campus. I remember coming to Cairo last February and walking around the new campus for the first time. I thought it was just breathtaking. So when I was given the opportunity to come out and put the intellectual and academic meat on the bones of this campus, it was just too irresistible to pass up,” says Anderson. “The fact that AUC is undergoing this dramatic transformation was very much a part of the appeal for me.”