Academic administrator; Educator
Public Affairs, Business, and Administration
Educational and Academic Leadership
After a career at Columbia University as professor, leader of its Middle East program, and then dean of its public policy school, she sought out a bigger challenge, joining American University in Cairo (AUC) as its provost and after two years as AUC's president. Her presidency coincided with the Arab Spring and Egypt's political turmoil. Throughout she inaugurated a series of institutional steps that steadily enhanced AUC's academic programs, while managing the inevitable challenges of national political turmoil and country-wide student activism. In a region not always welcoming woman in a major leadership positions, she emerged as an important voice for the scholarly principles and practices taken for granted in American higher education but requiring special nurture in the Middle East. Pursuing Truth, Exercising Power: Social Science and Public Policy in the Twenty-first Century (2003) is a must-read for any university leader seeking guidance on how to navigate the complexities of institutional engagement with the world and yet maintain sufficient distance to protect the independence of the life of the mind. Her writings on the Middle East--starting with The State and Social Transformation in Tunisia and Libya, 1830-1980 (1986)--were ahead of their time in documenting the irrationality of the borders and identities imposed by European imperialism.