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A Brief History

University Milestones:


2014: In 2014, AUAF’s Professional Development Institute opened a new branch in Mazar-e-Sharif. The university also launched the MA in Education program with funding from the World Bank and Afghan Ministry of Education, which currently has an enrollment of 320 students from around the country. The International Campus expanded rapidly this year, with extensive landscaping and infrastructure improvements and occupancy of the new staff/faculty apartment block on the new campus. The Business Innovation Hub launched in February with headquarter offices on the International Campus, and subsequently opened a branch office in Herat. To top-off this productive year for the university, a total number of 180 undergraduate and graduate students, AUAF’s fourth and largest class, graduated in December in a ceremony held on the International Campus.

2013: In January, the Department of Law is created, and the first students begin classes. Spring enrollment rises to 958 students, and 50% of the 2013 freshman class is female. 123 students – including the first cohort of MBA students – graduate at a ceremony in May held in front of AUAF’s new International Center for Afghan Women’s Economic Development (ICAWED), a $5 million, state-of-the-art facility designed to support female Afghan business owners. Former Ambassador Ryan Crocker returns as private citizen to deliver the commencement address. The ICAWED Center hosts its first major international conference just weeks after opening. The university signs another five year cooperative agreement with USAID valued at more than $40 million. Fall enrollment tops 1,000 students, a major university milestone, with females comprising 30% of the overall student body. 

2012: In January, the university admits more than 150 new students to its FSP and UG programs, bringing the total number of students in those programs to 879. PDI enrolls more than 800 students, a record. In February, the university breaks ground on its $5 million International Center for Afghan Women’s Economic Development. Also in February the Under Secretary for Commerce Francisco Sanchez visits campus to unveil AUAF’s newest program, the Commercial Law Initiative, which will offer courses on commercial law.

 2011: The university opens the spring semester in January with its first convocation. Enrollment rises to 789 students, including 21 percent women. In May, the university holds its first graduation ceremony and holds groundbreaking ceremonies for faculty and staff housing on the new campus. In August, a new faculty office building opens on the original campus.

2010: Enrollment increases to 550 students. New degree programs—the Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration—are approved by the Board of Trustees. The design of the new campus is completed with support from USAID. In May, the first student completes requirements for an undergraduate degree. In June, a successful fundraising event is held in Washington for the Laura Bush Women’s Resource Center. In August, the university opens a newly constructed faculty office building.

 2009: In August, the Board of Trustees appoints Dr. C. Michael Smith as the university’s president. Through a $5 million grant from USAID, the university installs a state-of-the-art e-learning facility so that students can benefit from collaboration with other universities within the region and as far away as the U.S. Support from the Bayat Foundation helps the university renovate the gymnasium. The Friends of the American University of Afghanistan, with offices in Washington, is awarded 501(c) (3) non-profit status by the Internal Revenue Service.

2008: In June, U.S. First Lady Laura Bush announces $42 million in funding from USAID over five years. By the end of the year, enrollment in the undergraduate and Foundation Studies programs reaches almost 350 students.

2007: The university implements its first vision and academic plans, and begins offering summer courses.

2006: In March, AUAF admits its first group of 53 students to its Foundation Studies Program, designed to strengthen student’s English language and study skills. In September, the first credit-bearing undergraduate courses are offered, along with the first adult professional level programs.

2005: In March, U.S. First Lady Laura Bush visits the site of the new university and announces a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch the institution.

2005: On a five-acre site that is part of the land lease, two buildings heavily damaged in combat between Afghan and Soviet forces in the 1980s and the resulting factional war are repaired for office and classroom use.

2004: The university’s Board of Trustees conducts its first meeting in Dubai, U.A.E.

2004: The Afghanistan Ministry of Higher Education grants a charter to the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF) under Article 46, Chapter 2 of the Afghan Constitution and Article 445 of the Civil Code. The Coordinating Council of International Universities, based in the U.S., initiates a feasibility study to recommend an institutional framework for the new university.

2003: In an address to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), U.S. First Lady Laura Bush announces support for educational initiatives in Afghanistan, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad gives strong support for establishing the American University of Afghanistan.

2003: The Afghanistan High Commission for Private Investment offers 99-year leases on two large tracts of land, in southwest Kabul near the gutted Darulaman Palace, to develop a private university. The American University of Afghanistan Foundation is chartered in Delaware as a nonprofit philanthropic organization to receive these leases.

2002: Dr. Sharif Fayez, the Afghan Minister of Higher Education, proposes the establishment of the nation’s first independent university, and in a speech to the nation, President Hamid Karzai stresses the importance of education to the country.