American University of Kurdistan, your path to excellence

American University of Kurdistan (AUK) at Duhok will build “future Kurdistan and world leaders,” said the University’s first President Dr. Michael Mulnix on March 14.

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – American University of Kurdistan (AUK) at Duhok will build “future Kurdistan and world leaders,” said the University’s first President Dr. Michael Mulnix on March 14.

The grand opening ceremony took place on Monday March 14, just over two years after Masrour Barzani, who is Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees and the principal beneficiary responsible for the initiative, laid the foundation stone, according to an AUK statement released on March 20.

Many Kurdish and foreign officials and diplomats attended the ceremony. The President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani, who gave a speech at the ceremony, labeled the opening of the University a remarkable achievement.

President Barzani described it as a celebration that “adds another level of joy and weight” to official commemorations of the 25th anniversary of the Duhok Uprising as well as the birthday of the modern Kurdish leader, General Mulla Mustafa Barzani, after whom the main campus building is named.  

The American Ambassador, Stuart Jones, was fulsome in his praise of the University, which is already, he declared, well on course to providing “a high-quality American style education with cutting-edge research and career orientated programs.” 

“Future leaders in business, government and the arts are already walking the halls of this institution,” Jones said.

Additionally, Chairman Masrour Barzani, who recently returned from fighting on the frontlines against the Islamic State (IS) said, “We are fortunate in having tremendous resources here in Kurdistan to leverage and take advantage of in building our economy, not least those huge reserves of creativity and courage that our people are famous for,” he continued. “But we will not be able fully to leverage these opportunities without a highly-trained workforce.”

This vision was also very much reflected in the words of the University’s first President, Dr. Michael Mulnix. “We are not just going to graduate students; we are going to graduate the future leaders of Kurdistan, the future leaders of the world,” he stated. 

Mulnix also spoke of the importance that the University will place on providing value-based education that is genuinely inclusive and founded on the core principles of multiculturalism and tolerance. 

He paid tribute to all those who have generously provided financial support to the University already and highlighted its position as a “not for profit” institution, one of only two such institutions in Iraq.

Furthermore, the guests of honor at the ceremony included a number of Ezidi women, who have recently been rescued by the Peshmerga from atrocious conditions in captivity at the hands of IS. The University is determined to play a leading role in the promotion of educational opportunities for women from all communities. As a first step, a special center is being created in support of these women, to help them recover from their sufferings.

Photo: Seivan Salim (National Geographic)

The center for the Ezidi women has been entirely funded by generous donations to the University Foundation by local business persons. It is one of several similar transformative projects that the Foundation has planned for the future, projects which will maximize the institution’s beneficial impact on the wider community.  

The University has been open to students since Dec. 1, 2014, and already has 300 undergraduates, studying within five initial department areas: Computer Science, Design, Management and Finance, Media Studies, and Politics and Public Policy.

The University intends to cater to over 3,000 students, drawn from Kurdistan, the wider Middle East and around the world. A full range of academic subjects will be offered. Further inquiries should be directed to the University Foundation Office.


Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany