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American Universities with Presidents of Arab Descent

posted on: Jun 1, 2021

Students graduating from college. Photo: The Conversation

By: Nadia Reese/Arab America Contributing Writer

The President of a college or university comes with great responsibility. The President doesn’t just enforce the rules, he or she has to be the embodiment of the faculty, administration, and the students. As president, you must be able to further the mission and the vision of your university. In this article, we will meet university presidents of Arab descent in the United States who did that and more.

1. Mitch Daniels (Purdue University)

Mitch Daniels, former Governor of Indiana and the current President of Purdue University. Photo: Wikipedia

Mitch Daniels is not only the former Governor of Indiana, but he has also been serving as the 12th President of Purdue University since 2013. As President of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels introduced the Purdue Moves, a partnership with Amazon, affordability, and the Gallup-Purdue Index. The purpose of the Purdue Moves included five important issues to transform the university: STEM leadership, world-changing research and transformative education, online education, and affordability and accessibility. In 2018, Purdue Moves would allow all students to take online courses through their undergraduate degree program which was not offered on Purdue’s previous curriculum. The Purdue Moves would also increase the number of students within their Stem programs. Purdue University is also partnered with Amazon and the Gallup and Lumina Foundation. A partnership with Amazon would allow students to afford school supplies and a partnership with the Gallup and Lumina Foundation can help students gain easier access to jobs.

2. Donna Shalala (University of Miami)

Donna Shalala, former Representative in the U.S. House of Representatives (FL-27) and former President of the University of Miami. Photo: Wikipedia

Donna Shalala is a former U.S. House Representative for Cleveland, Ohio and in 2001, she became President of the University of Miami. Before becoming President, Shalala was an educator herself for over 40 years with teaching credentials in Health Policy and Political Science. As President of the University of Miami, she was able to help two of their successful Momentum campaigns raise $3 billion dollars. This income would help the University of Miami fund its research and academic programs on campus.

3. Joseph E. Aoun (Northeastern University)

Joseph E. Aoun, current President of Northeastern University. Photo: Northeastern University

Joseph E. Aoun, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon, is the seventh President of Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and a globally, well-known educator. As President of Northeastern University, Dr. Aoun focuses on the idea of experiential learning with the purpose to help students find opportunities worldwide in 136 countries. Aoun has implemented three global ideas onto the foundation of Northeastern University: health, security, and sustainability. These ideas would help to not only bring in new high-performing Northeastern, students, it would also connect Northeastern University with six campuses in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom.

4. Robert Khayat (University of Mississippi)

Robert Khayat, former Chancellor of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). Photo: University of Mississippi

Robert Khayat may not have been President, but he was still named as Chancellor of the University of Mississippi. The chancellor of a university is similar to the President in the sense that both positions require the person to be the executive head. For two years, Khayat served as President of the Southeastern Conference, which is known to be one of the strongest athletic conferences for colleges in the nation. As chancellor, Dr. Khayat completed a campaign that attracted $525.9 million to UM campuses for academics.

5. Nido Qubein (High Point University)

Nido Qubein, current President of High Point University. Photo: Wikipedia

Since 2005, Lebanese-Jordanian businessman and motivational speaker, Nido Qubein has held the position as the seventh President of High Point University. During his presidency, Nido Qubein has helped in the establishment of new buildings for High Point University as well as the increase in faculty, prospective students and a rise in degree programs such as several doctorate degree programs. Before becoming President of a well-respected university, Qubein traveled to the United States with only $50 and rusty English.

6. David Adamany (Wayne State University)

David Adamany, former President of Wayne State University. Photo: Crain’s Detroit Business

The 8th President of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan was David Walter Adamany. Adamany was described to be “hardworking, caring, and thoughtful leader at Detroit’s largest university. ” Adamany had brought many transformations during his tenure as President. He led in the formation of the TECH Center. Currently, there is a scholarship which was created by the Wayne State University Alumni Association in tribute to David Adamany known as the David Adamany Endowed Scholarships and a library called the David Adamany Undergraduate Library.

7. Chaouki Tanios Abdallah (University of New Mexico)

Chaouki Tanios Abdallah, former President of the University of New Mexico. Photo: Georgia Tech

Lebanese-American, Chaouki Tanios Abdallah served as the 22nd President of the University of New Mexico. At the University of New Mexico, Abdallah led his administration in the effort to improve retention achievement, graduation rates, and overall student success. Currently, Abdallah works at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) where he is the Executive Vice President for Research.

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