The Texas International Education Consortium (TIEC) welcomed the American University in Cairo (AUC) President Francis Ricciardone and his Associate Provost for Strategic Enrollment Management, Dr. Ahmed Tolba, to Texas to help foster connections and possible partnerships between AUC and a dozen TIEC member universities.
The trip took place on April 24 and 25, 2018, and was broken down into two parts: a talk at The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies to speak with students and community members, and a conversation with TIEC’s Board of Directors at the Headliners Club in Austin.
“At TIEC, we like to say we act as a bridge to help connect universities to projects and opportunities around the globe. President Riccardone’s visit is a perfect example of that,” said TIEC Vice President, Dr. Ryan Buck. “As Egypt faces a lot of challenges, there is also a lot of room for opportunity, and we want our TIEC members to see the benefit in that.”
Francis Ricciardone is not only president of AUC, but also a three-time United States ambassador, having served as chief of mission in Cairo, Ankara, and Manila, and deputy chief of mission in Kabul and Baghdad. After retiring from a long and successful career as a U.S. diplomat, where he served the American people with distinction, President Ricciardone chose to go back to Egypt to be part of bringing innovation and quality education to the region through his role at AUC.
“The Middle East may be full of problems,” President Riccardone said. “But if you embrace them, you will find the many opportunities that lie there, too. AUC has a nearly 100-year history as Egypt’s leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education.”
President Riccardone addressed issues of safety and the connotations outsiders may have of Egypt. He described the country’s renewed focus on educational innovation and described signs of change—namely, its Level 2 safety ranking on the U.S. Travel Advisory, on par with countries such as the United Kingdom and France, and the fact Fulbright was once again sending people to study in the country.
“The goal of the visit was to give President Ricciardone the opportunity to provide us with an overview of AUC, its global standing, the climate of the region, and to see what partnerships with their institution look like,” Dr. Buck said.
After his talk, President Riccardone spoke one-on-one with consortia members regarding possible opportunities for collaborations between their universities, and expressed gratitude to TIEC for the ability to organize the immense power of higher education across the state of Texas, all under one roof.
12 of 31 consortia members were present on April 25 for President Riccardone’s visit including, Lamar University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Sul Ross State University, Tarleton State University, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas State University, Texas Tech University, The University of Texas at El Paso, University of Houston-Downtown, University of Houston-Victoria, and University of North Texas.