Ola El Adly
The American University in Cairo is currently working on a faculty housing project in New Cairo to accommodate and make it more convenient for members of faculty.
The university currently provides apartments in various districts of Cairo including El Rehab, Zamalek, and Maadi. Faculty members get to choose their apartments based on the neighborhood and the apartment size.
Brian McDougall, VP for Planning and Administration, explained that the housing project is “not on the campus itself,” but rather it is located “about 400 meters from Gate 4 and on a road that is perpendicular to AUC Avenue.”
He also added that construction of the project has started and the first phase should be ready for use in the summer of 2012.
“The project was approved as part of the original plan for the New Cairo Campus project, but we did slow down the construction since our priority was to finish the academic buildings and student facilities first,” said McDougall.
AUC currently provides furnished apartments for “relocated faculty members and staff, who are eligible,” said Sherif Maged, Director of Faculty Housing.
Maged explains that the housing is mainly for foreign faculty members, adding that the administration is still unsure of their stance towards Egyptian faculty who come from different cities outside of Cairo, such as Alexandria or Helwan.
He also explained that an Egyptian faculty member has a bigger chance at having an AUC apartment if they hired through a foreign university.
Professor Firas Al Atraqchi of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication who used to live in an apartment provided by AUC, commented on the New Cairo Campus faculty housing project, saying, “I would certainly consider (living there). It would make life easier.”
However, he added his concerns about availability of resources in New Cairo.
On the other hand, art professor Dr. Mary McCombie, who has just moved to Cairo this semester, said she would rather live off-campus so she can get the chance to experience a true Egyptian lifestyle in a lively neighborhood.
She said, “I’m coming for one year to Egypt,” and thus did not want to be detached or isolated from Egyptian life, norms, and culture, explaining that those were the reasons why she chose the Maadi rather than El Rehab residence.
Yet Dr. McCombie believes it would be “convenient for the provost and staff who need to be close to campus at all times.”
Dr. McCombie finally added, “I feel lucky to be here (in Egypt) and have found AUC’s housing office very supportive.”