Higher Ed Without Borders Interviews Dr. Tony Chan President of KAUST

Dr. Tony Chan is the President of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia founded in 2009.
Professor Tony Chan is President of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia founded in 2009, It is the first mixed-gender university campus in the whole of Saudi Arabia and has an enrollment of over 1,600 all graduate and Ph.D. students. It is ranked as one of the top 3 universities in the Arab World.

He assumed his role as the third president of KAUST in September 2018 after nearly a decade as president of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He led a strategic planning process to lead KAUST into its second decade, including growing the faculty and students by up to 50%. He has expanded KAUST's research emphasis from energy, water, food and environment to include digital and health, launching new initiatives in Artificial Intelligence, Smart Health, Cyber Security and Circular Carbon.  He is increasing investment and capacity in innovation, entrepreneurship and knowledge transfer. By positioning the University to leverage Saudi Arabia's ambitious Vision 2030 strategic plan, he is strengthening its engagement with the nation. Finally, he is leading efforts to enhance the global and national visibility of KAUST.

Before joining HKUST, President Chan was Assistant Director of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate at the US National Science Foundation from 2006 to 2009.  He taught Computer Science at Yale University before joining UCLA as Professor of Mathematics in 1986 and was Chair of the Department of Mathematics in 1997 and later Dean of Physical Sciences.  He was a co-founder and Director of the US NSF funded National Math Institute IPAM.

He received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Engineering from Caltech and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University, followed by a Research Fellowship at Caltech. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Strathclyde.  He is a member of US National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of IEEE, AAAS and SIAM.  He was awarded the 2020 SIAM Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession.  
The interview includes the following questions:
  •  A number of our listeners are higher education leaders throughout the world and some aspire to be a university president.  Many say being a university president is a rather lonely job.  For the listeners who have this aspiration, could you share with them some of the leadership lessons you have learned in your personal journey?  
  • Please tell our listeners about the origin of KAUST and its students, faculty, and strengths.
  • We would like to explore the place and importance of higher education in the Middle East.  Egypt-born Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail said this: "The Middle East is rich in human and natural resources, but many of its countries need a cultural and scientific transformation."   How do you see a fundamental transformation of youth in the region back to the discipline of curiosity, innovation, critical thinking, and problem-solving that are needed to excel in STEM areas?
  • What are some of your major influences and contributors to the success of your career?
  • As you work across different cultures and regions in the world, what do you see as the values of higher education that transcend borders – and what are some areas that you see the need for adaptation and customization in different environments
Comments and Suggestions:

Higher Ed Without Borders would love to hear your ideas for future topics and guests. Connect with Dr. Senthil Nathan or Dean Hoke on LinkedIn. You can also visit the Edu Alliance website. To hear the entire series please subscribe to Higher Ed Without Borders on your preferred podcast platforms such as Apple, Spotify, or Google. The podcast is sponsored by Edu Alliance, an education consulting firm located in Bloomington Indiana, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. We assist higher education institutions worldwide on a variety of
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Higher Ed Without Borders Interviews Dr. Tony Chan President of KAUST
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