American University of Beirut campus a massive boost
Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos is bursting with pride that a campus of the prestigious American University of Beirut is coming to the city.
He’s even prouder that he and the municipality were instrumental in making Paphos the winning location after the mayor learned that AUB was considering establishing a campus in the general area of Greece or Cyprus.
“We contacted them first. The mayor contacted the university head to express Paphos’ interest and that is how this has come about,” a municipality spokesperson told the Sunday Mail this week.
“With the establishment of this very high-level university, plus the other two universities that will we have from 2023 [Tepak and Paphos Innovation Institute] and also the existing Neapolis University, Paphos will ‘enter’ the map of cities of higher education with all the resulting advantages for the local community,” Phedonos told the newspaper.
The university seems equally delighted with their choice of location.
“Cyprus offers a vibrant and rapidly expanding private higher education market, access to the European Union, high levels of academic freedom and proximity to Beirut,” said an AUB spokeswoman.
“The municipality of Paphos, led by the visionary mayor, is a strong and committed partner.”
The AUB has invested €29 million in the project and construction is due to get underway in June or July this year and be completed within 12 months, in time to welcome students by September 2023.
At a ceremony on Friday at the Markideio theatre in Paphos, the agreement to establish the facility was signed by Paphos municipality and the AUB, in the presence of President Nicos Anastasiades, the US Deputy Secretary of State Lee Satterfield, who was in Cyprus exclusively for this purpose, AUB president Fadlo Khuri and other dignitaries.
Architectural plans for the university which will operate out of the complex of the old Carob Mills on Apostols Pavlos avenue and cover 10,000 square meters were also presented. A government owned plot of land of around 7,000 square metres has been donated.
The American University of Beirut-Mediterraneo will operate according to American standards. In the first phase, three fields of study will be covered: computer science, economics and business and civil engineering, with the aim of accommodating over 2,000 students in the coming years.
“We will be initially offering 6-8 undergraduate and graduate majors leading to degrees in politics, philosophy and economics (BA); psychology (BA); computer science (BS); industrial engineering (BS); engineering management (MS); business administration – management (BBA); and business analytics (MS),” the university spokesperson told the Sunday Mail.
Paphos in particular was chosen as it offers a vibrant cultural, historical and architectural environment for an academic institution, according to the university.
More generally, the choice of Cyprus as a location was helped by the already strong links with an active AUB alumni chapter on the island.
“There are currently more than 300 AUB alumni living in Cyprus, 60 per cent are Cypriot nationals,” she added. “They continue to play key roles in Cyprus through their contributions in the private and public sectors.”
Phedonos said that establishing new universities in Paphos was a main aim of the municipality which would help to not only lift Paphos out of its torpidity, but also bolster the economy and breathe vital, new life into the area.
The municipality’s goal, he said, was to create “a third pillar in the economy, that of university education, alongside the tourism and construction sectors”.
There will be extensive interaction between the Paphos and Beirut campuses such as student exchanges, faculty exchanges, collaborative research projects, expanded online and hybrid learning opportunities.
The Paphos project comes under the AUB’s general expansion strategy. The aim is to make AUB a global American university anchored in Beirut, with offices in North America, hubs in Africa, an expanded AUB online presence, and plans to establish a campus in the Gulf.
The American University of Beirut was founded in 1866 and bases its educational philosophy, standards, and practices on the American liberal arts model of higher education.
As a teaching-centred research university, AUB has around 800 instructional faculty and a student body of around 8,000 students. It currently offers more than 130 undergraduate and post-graduate programmes.