Dr. Sharif Fayez, Founding President of the American University of Afghanistan
Dr. Sharif Fayez was named the President Pro Tempore of the America University of Afghanistan in December 2004 while he was still the minister of higher education. He had served as Afghanistan’s Minister of Higher Education during the Interim Authority and Transitional Government of President Harmid Karzai. During his three years in the Ministry, Dr. Fayez saw the need for having an American-style institution of higher education located in Afghanistan.
Dr. Fayez himself had studied in the United States. After receiving a BA in English Education from the University of Kabul, he received his MA in English Literature from the University of Northern Colorado, and later earned his Ph.D. in American Literature and Oriental Studies from the University of Arizona. He saw first-hand the benefits that come from the liberal arts-based approach of American universities.
During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, he taught at Ferdowsi University in Mashhad, Iran, and contributed many articles to Afghan expatriate journals published in the United States critical of the Taliban regime. He has also translated and written a number of books in Farsi and English.
As Minister, he encouraged President Karzai and other Afghan leaders both to grant a charter for the American University of Afghanistan, and to donate the land for the campus. Also during his time as Minister, he founded Kabul Education University, Bamiyan University, the new campus of Herat University, and several smaller institutions of higher education.
In 2003, Dr. Fayez was honored by the University of Arizona which named him a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, for his contributions to higher education in Afghanistan. In June 2006, he was awarded another honorary doctorate by the University of Oldenburg. He is currently the founding president of the American University of Afghanistan.