DESERT DREAMS: The American University in Cairo has named Lisa Anderson, former dean of the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and a specialist on the politics of the Middle East and North Africa, as its next provost.
Ms. Anderson, 57, who spent a decade in the deanship at Columbia, will take up her new post as the American University moves from central Cairo to a brand-new $400-million campus on the bustling city's outskirts.
At Columbia, Ms. Anderson's strong support of faculty members under fire from inside and outside the university over their politics and their research won her a spot on the conservative author David Horowitz's list of the 101 "most dangerous academics in America." Her most controversial decision as dean was to invite Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to speak on the campus in 2006, a year before Columbia's president, Lee C. Bollinger, extended his own invitation. Ms. Anderson's invitation was rescinded after a firestorm of criticism.
Ms. Anderson admits that the challenges in Cairo will be quite different. Her first task will be a "sales job" for the new campus, as the university's 400 faculty members move to a suburban campus on the edge of the desert. "I don't think this is something we can be too sanguine about," she said. "I know from Columbia that just getting an individual faculty member to move down the hall can be a problem."
Once the move is complete, Ms. Anderson plans to join the continuing discussion about whether the university should offer Ph.D. programs ("I'm really of two minds on that," she says) and open graduate schools of business and education.