President Shih to step down as Founding President


Saturday May 19, 2012

On May 19, Professor Choon Fong Shih announced his intention to step down as the Founding President of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), as his term nears its end. He has also agreed to continue serving as KAUST’s President until his successor can be appointed to assume the responsibilities of this important office.

On behalf of the KAUST Board of Trustees and the entire KAUST community, I am extending our sincere gratitude to Professor Shih for his considerable efforts in establishing KAUST as an international graduate research university. Under Professor Shih’s leadership, KAUST was established as a merit based institution serving to advance science and technology and the highest quality faculty and students have been attracted to this great institution. He has worked effectively with the academic leadership of the University to ensure that the institution’s research efforts are well focused on meeting the strategic needs of the Kingdom and the region in the areas of food, water, energy and the environment. He has also worked with the University’s Economic Development leadership team to enable KAUST to become a catalyst for transforming Saudi Arabia to a knowledge based economy as a result of its innovations in these and other areas.

Under Professor Shih’s leadership, the University has already graduated two classes of top quality Saudi and international students, a number of whom have joined industries in Saudi Arabia, while others have decided to pursue PhD studies at KAUST in specialized fields of science and technology; all have been highly praised for the great education they received at KAUST. In addition, the University has commissioned nine world-class Research Centers and seven Core Laboratories which will enable its researchers and students to carry out leading edge research in areas of interest to Saudi Arabia. Despite the University being in the early stages of its development, more than two hundred thirty inventions have already been reported and more than two hundred patent applications have been filed to protect the University’s right to the intellectual property in these innovations and to enable commercialization of these technologies within the Kingdom. In addition, the University has embarked on an ambitious collaboration program with industry and twenty six industry leaders have joined the KAUST Industrial Collaboration Program. Three of these industry leaders, Saudi Aramco, SABIC and the Dow Chemical Company, have become anchor tenants in the University’s Research Park. Moreover, the University has entered into more than forty strategic partnerships and other agreements with leading academic institutions from all around the world. These are no small accomplishments for any university, but they are truly remarkable when one considers that the University opened its doors only in September 2009.

Professor Shih has been at the University’s helm through the challenging start-up phase of its operations and, in so doing, has enabled KAUST to gain the admiration and respect of the international academic community. I sincerely thank Professor Shih for his dedication and leadership in helping establish KAUST as a world-class center of academic excellence that will serve to transform the lives of the people of Saudi Arabia and bridge cultures of people around the world in line with the aspirations of the University’s founder.

Ali I. Al-Naimi
On behalf of the KAUST Board of Trustees

For this announcement in arabic, please click here