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AUC’s Centennial Benefit Dinner raises more than $1.15 million for student scholarships

The dinner took place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Ahram Online , Tuesday 28 May 2019
The AUC Benefit Dinner ceremony     Photo courtesy of the AUC Office of Communications
The AUC Benefit Dinner ceremony Photo courtesy of the AUC Office of Communications
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At its recent eighth annual Benefit Dinner, the American University in Cairo (AUC) raised more than $1.15 million for student scholarships, exceeding the University's $1 million target for Centennial Scholarships, which help top students attend AUC.

This is part of AUC's $100 million Centennial Campaign, which has now reached 80 percent.

The Benefit Dinner was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, one of the world’s largest art museums, housing over two million works of art in collections that span over 5,000 years, in celebration of the University’s centennial. Over 250 guests attended the Benefit Dinner, which was held in The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing.

Entertainment at the event included a musical performance by Egyptian singer Dalia Farid.

The Master of Ceremonies was Salima Ikram, professor of Egyptology at AUC.

“Egypt remains a vibrant, bubbling fountainhead of creativity and the arts, whether from 5,000 years ago, 2,000 years ago, today or tomorrow,” said AUC President Francis Ricciardone.

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Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali Photo courtesy of the AUC Office of Communications

Richard Bartlett, chairman of AUC’s Board of Trustees reflected on how AUC's first board meeting took place in New York City, saying, “AUC’s American roots are critical to the cross-cultural impact that the University produces. We strive to bring the world to Egypt and Egypt to the world. ... At a time when the value of exposing cultures to each other has become suspect for some, AUC remains steadfastly committed to that goal — as it has been for 100 years”.

Egypt's Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali also spoke at the event, discussing AUC’s growth and significance in the region.

“In 100 years, some institutions grow and mature while other institutions fade and lose direction and relevance. One hundred years ago, AUC had been received warmly by Egyptians, and it has grown steadily to become the most important international University in Egypt and among the most important in the region,” she affirmed. 

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(L-r) Mohamed El Shafie, Richard Bartlett, with Radwa Hamed at the AUC annual Benefit Dinner

On how the university will play an important role in facing Egypt’s future challenges, Wali said, “So while AUC should honor and celebrate its accomplishments, it should consider the first centennial as just a foundation — a solid base to move forward and upward in the next 100 years”.

At the dinner, AUC presented the Global Impact Award to two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas D. Kristof (ALU ‘84), op-ed columnist at The New York Times, and the Distinguished Alumni Award to both Mohamed El Shafie ‘17, Harvard Law School Candidate for JD ‘20, and Radwa Hamed ‘17, 2019 Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University.

“I have such warm memories of my time in Egypt; I got so much out of it,” Kristof opened during his speech.

“And I think sometimes there is a mis-impression that the great beneficiaries of AUC are always Egyptian. Obviously many are, but if you think about Americans and Westerners who are engaged in the Arab world as diplomats or as journalists, the overwhelming number ….have passed through AUC and have truly learned so much from there.”

Kristof came to AUC in 1984 to study Arabic, continuing on to establish himself as a world-renowned journalist, working as a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. 

“There are fissures within the countries and between the Arab world and the United States. ... One of the lessons is the need to have institutions that can create bridges across these gulfs, and I can’t think of a better institution to provide that bridge than AUC. ... [The education toolbox] doesn't work overnight, but over time, it really is so powerful in transforming societies, building that human capital and changing not just those individuals who get that education, but the entire nation. And that is the business that AUC has been in for 100 years, and it's why I'm so proud of my connection to AUC”, Kristof asserted.  

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(L-r) Nicholas D. Kristof and Richard Bartlet

Recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, Mohamed El Shafie’17 is a philosophy graduate and recipient of the HSBC Bank Egypt Public School Scholarship during his time at AUC.

As an AUC student, El Shafie founded the reading society MensCiceronis, bringing together participants from AUC, Oxford and several American universities, to talk about classics of Western and Judeo-Islamic political philosophy.

Radwa Hamed ‘17, computer engineering and electronics and communications engineering double major, who also received the Distinguished Alumni Award, was recently chosen to receive a fully funded fellowship to pursue her graduate studies at Stanford University as members of the 2019-Knight-Hennessy Scholars programme.

She also won first place at the NYU Abu Dhabi International Hackathon for Social Good in the Arab World for developing the application, Hiat, a job portal platform and digital wallet that allows refugees to access job opportunities and additionally manage their salaries and finances. Hamed also worked as a data structure engineer at Affectiva, the global leader in artificial emotional intelligence.

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