Towards a New Generation of Engaged Universities:
The Need to Act, Adapt and Transform

16th – 18thApril, 2024 | Kempinski Central Avenue (Formerly the Address Dubai Mall), Dubai, UAE

MENA HELF 2015 Panel Members

Prof. Mandla Makhanya
Principal and Vice Chancellor, UNISA, South Africa

Professor Mandla Stanley Makhanya was appointed Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa on 1 January 2011. He is also Treasurer of the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE) and an executive member of the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE).
Professor Makhanya holds a BA and a BA (Hons) in Sociology from the University of Fort Hare, a Masters Degree in Industrial Sociology from the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu Natal), and a DPhil from the University of Pretoria and a DTE from UNISA. In 2007 the University of Athabasca in Canada conferred upon him a PhD (Honoris Causa) in recognition of his outstanding leadership at UNISA and his contribution as a distinguished scholar in distance education. He maintains active scholarship through regular publications. Professor Makhanya is a Deputy Chairperson of the South African National Commission for UNESCO and Chairperson of the Culture Sector of the South African National Commission for UNESCO. He has also been a member of the National Committee of the Memory of the World (MoW). Professor Makhanya is also an Executive Committee Member of the Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL) – International Body (2012). In October 2014, Prof Makhanya accepted a nomination to serve on the Advisory Board of the Journal of Research in Open, Distance and e-Learning (JRODeL). In the 1990s he served in various leadership roles in the South African Sociological Association, including Deputy President in 1998, for a period of two years. He continues to be a member of the South African Sociological Association (SASA) and the International Association of Sociology (ISA).


Prof. Barry Winn
Vice-Chancellor, Sohar University, Oman

Professor Barry Winn was took up the post of Vice Chancellor at Sohar University on the 1st April 2015 and was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Bradford, UK. He was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at the University of Hull between 2003 and 2008. He served on a number of community and business related groups such as the Wilberforce 2007 Committee, World Trade Centre steering committee, the Humber Economic Partnership Strategy Group and was a board member and non-executive director of the Institute of Knowledge Transfer. He worked at the University of Bradford between 1994 and 2003 as Professor of Optometry, Head of Department and as the inaugural Dean of Life Sciences. He has served on a number of national committees such as EPSRC KT panel and has Chaired the Quality Assurance Agency benchmarking group on Subjects Allied to Medicine. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and a former educational advisor to the General Optical Council.


Prof. Ahmed M. Hamad
President, British University of Egypt, Egypt

Currently the President of the British University in Egypt (since July 2014). He is an emeritus Professor at Ain Shams University, Computer Systems Department. Professor Hamad held the following several posts: Head of Avionics Department – MTC (19921996);
Full Professor of Computer Systems at Ain Shams University (since 1996); Vice
Dean for Postgraduate, Education and Student Affairs, then Environmental Affairs (AinShams 1998-2004); Dean of Faculty of Information and Computer Science (October 6 University 2004-2008); Dean of ICS Faculty and Professor of Computer Networks (BUE 2008-June 2014). His fields of experience are in Avionics Systems, Digital Electronics, Computer Architecture, Computer Networks, Computer Graphics, Visual Information Systems, Multimedia and Digital Signal processing. He has published more than 60 papers in international and local conferences, journals and proceedings in different fields of information technology. Professor Hamad is the Vice President of the Egyptian Software Engineering Association (ESEA), an IEEE member since (1988) and ACM member since (2005).


Prof. Jan Sadlak
President, IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence, France

Jan Sadlak is Professor at the Faculty of European Studies of the Babe?-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. In October 2009, he has been elected as the President of the IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking and Excellence.

He is internationally recognized and cited expert in higher education policy, governance and management at the system and institutional level. His research interests and publications cover such topics as processes of reform and transformation in higher education and science policy, organization of doctoral studies and qualifications, private higher education, “world-class university”, quality assurance and academic ranking as well as ethical dimension of higher education and academic values. He is a member of the editorial boards of the leading journals in the field of higher education and social policy, among them Higher Education Management [published by OECD].


Dr. Kent D. MacDonald
President and Vice Chancellor of StFX University, Canada

Dr. Kent MacDonald is the 18th President and Vice Chancellor of StFX University, one of Canada’s oldest and most respected institutions of higher learning.
Dr. MacDonald is a highly regarded leader in Canada’s post secondary system. Over the past two decades, Dr. MacDonald has become well known for his highly personal and engaging style of leadership and he has spoken to audiences around the world including Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and across North America.
Professor MacDonald’s interest is higher education leadership. Over the past two decades he put this interest into practice by holding increasingly complex leadership roles including President (Algonquin College, Ottawa, Ontario); Vice President, Academic; Vice President, Student Services and Development, and Dean, School of Business.
Dr. MacDonald has completed undergraduate and graduate work at StFX University and he earned an MBA from Université d’Ottawa. Dr. MacDonald completed his doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA where his research focused on high performing institutions and higher education leadership and management.
Prior to joining Algonquin, Dr. MacDonald held senior leadership positions in the private and the not-for-profit sectors. He has been a proud educator in the elementary, secondary and post-secondary systems in Canada and New Zealand


Dr. Haifa Jamal Al Lail
President, Effat University, KSA

Dr. Haifa Jamal Allail joined Effat University in 1998 and began her tenure as President in May 2008. She is one of the winners of 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 and the winner of the Distinguished Arabian Woman Award in 2005. A respected author and researcher, she is well known for her expertise in privatization, and women empowerment. She is the author of a number of articles, and has developed and taught undergraduate and graduate courses on topics like public administration and public policy. Before joining Effat University, Dr. Jamal Allail was the first Dean of Girls’ Campus in King Abdulaziz University. She was a visiting scholar at John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2001. She participated in the Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration in Bryan Mawr College in 2000. She is a native of Saudi Arabia and received a PhD in Public Policy from the University of Southern California.


Prof. Kevin Mitchell
Interim Provost, American University of Sharjah, UAE

Professor Kevin Mitchell joined American University of Sharjah in 1999 and currently serves as its Interim Provost. The Provost provides vision, leadership, and operational direction for the Deans, academic Department Heads, and Directors of the academic support services. The Provost is also responsible for ensuring that the university’s curriculum and programs of research and service continuously strive to improve in quality and content, consistent with the rising standards and overall mission of the institution. Serving under the Chancellor as the second officer of administration, he is empowered to act on behalf of the Chancellor in his absence.
Professor Mitchell has previously held a number of administrative positions at AUS including Vice Provost of Undergraduate Affairs and Instruction, Director of the university’s Graduate and Undergraduate Programs, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of the First-Year Design Foundations program in the College of Architecture, Art and Design.

He holds a faculty appointment in the College of Architecture, Art and Design, where continues to teach on a regular basis and has received recognition for his contributions through the AUS Excellence in Teaching Award and the American Institute of Architects Education Honor Awards Program. He remains engaged in design activities, and recent projects include proposals for courtyard housing, the Sharjah InfoCart, and the design of the exhibition for the Emirates Photography Competition in 2014.

After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Professor Mitchell earned a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Washington, where he was named a Valle Scholar and provided the opportunity to study architecture and urbanism at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art.

Professor Mitchell writes on issues related to design pedagogy and to architecture and urbanism in the Middle East. He was a member of the organizing committee of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments (IASTE) Ninth Annual Conference, co-chaired the 2008 international conference Instant Cities: Emergent Trends in Architecture and Urbanism in the Arab World, and co-edited a volume of essays published by the Center for the Study of Architecture in the Arab Region. He is currently co-editing a survey of contemporary architecture and urbanism in the Gulf that will be published in 2015. Professor Mitchell was a member of the founding Editorial Board of the International Journal of Islamic Architecture and he continues to serve in that capacity.


Prof. Tod Laursen
President, Khalifa University, UAE

Tod A. Laursen is the President of Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (KUSTAR), in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Prior to becoming President of KUSTAR, Dr. Laursen was Professor and Chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Duke University (USA). While at Duke he also held academic appointments in civil engineering and biomedical engineering, and served as Senior Associate Dean for Education in Engineering from 2003-2008. In the latter capacity , he had oversight responsibility for all undergraduate and graduate engineering programs at Duke University , representing a student body of nearly 2000.
Dr. Laursen gained his PhD and MS postgraduate degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and a BS in the same subject from Oregon State University. He specializes in computational mechanics , a subfield of engineering mechanics concerned with development of new computational algorithms and tools used by engineers to analyze mechanical and structural systems. He has published over 100 refereed journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, and abstracts in this field, as well as authoring or co-editing two books. His particular focus is development of methods to analyze contact, impact and frictional phenomena, in highly nonlinear and complex systems.
He is a Fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the International Association of Computational Mechanics, and belongs also to the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Society for Engineering Education, the United States Association for Computational Mechanics, and Tau Beta Pi. He served as an at-large member of the Executive Committee for the United States Association for Computational Mechanics between 2007 and 2010, and has served on the scientific advisory committees of several prominent national and international congresses in computational mechanics.


Prof. Hassan B. Diab
Vice President, Regional External Programs, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

Hassan B. Diab received his B.Sc. (with Honors) in Communications Engineering, M.Sc. (with Distinction) in Systems Engineering, and Ph.D. in Computer Engineering in 1985. He joined the American University of Beirut (AUB) in 1985 and is a Professor of Computer Engineering at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture. He has over 130 publications in internationally refereed journals and conferences. His research interests include cryptography on high performance computer systems, modeling and simulation of parallel processing systems, embedded systems, reconfigurable computing, and education. He has supervised/co-supervised over 80 research projects, including 30 Masters Theses. He served as Associate Editor or member of Advisory/Editorial Board on five international journals. Professor Diab received over 20 international and regional awards. He has served as Founding Dean of the College of Engineering and Founding President during 2004-2006 at Dhofar University, Oman. Effective October 2006, Professor Diab was appointed as Vice President for Regional External Programs (REP) at AUB. He is a Founding Member of the first Arab Computer Society established in 2001 as well as the Founding Member of the IEEE Student Branch at AUB in 1997. Professor Diab is a Fellow in the IEE and the IEAust, as well as a Senior Member of the IEEE. During June 2011 – February 2014, he was appointed as Minister of Education and Higher Education in the Lebanese Cabinet to take over the largest ministry in Lebanon. Since July 2013, he returned to his position as VP at AUB.


Dr. Mazen O. Hasna
Vice President & Chief Academic Officer, Qatar University, Qatar

Dr. Mazen O. Hasna received the B.S. degree from Qatar University, Doha, Qatar in 1994, the M.S. degree from the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles in 1998, and the Ph.D. degree from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2003, all in electrical engineering.
In 2003, Dr. Hasna joined the department of electrical engineering at Qatar University as an assistant professor. He served as the head of the electrical engineering department, the associate dean for academic affairs, and the dean of engineering between 2005-2012.
Currently, he serves as the vice president and chief academic officer of Qatar University. Dr. Hasna is a founding member of the IEEE section in Qatar and the society of Qatari engineers. He is a member of the joint management committee of the Qatar Mobility Innovation Center (QMIC), and a board member of Qatar National Library (QNL).
Dr. Hasna’s research interests span the general area of digital communication theory and its application to performance evaluation of wireless communication systems over fading channels. Current specific research interests include cooperative communications, ad hoc networks, cognitive radio, optical communications and network coding. He was selected recently to the 2015 Thomson Reuters highly cited list for his research contributions in the area of wireless communications. Dr. Hasna is active also in the area of engineering education, and has published several papers in the field, and recently edited a book about advances in engineering education in the MENA region.


Prof. Ghassan Aouad
President, Applied Science University, Bahrain

Professor Ghassan Aouad is the President of Applied Science University in Bahrain. Prior to this he has held many academic positions including Vice President for Academic Affairs at Gulf University, President of the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation and Dean of the College of Science and Technology at the University of Salford in the UK.

During his time in Salford, Professor Aouad successfully supervised 24 PhD students, externally examined 52 PhD students, authored 3 major research books and co-authored one book, generated more than £10M in research funding as Principal Investigator and £8M as Co-Investigator, published 92 papers in top rated refereed journals, delivered more than 50 keynote speeches and invited lectures, and presented his work in more than 42 countries.

Professor Aouad was appointed as Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) in March 2010 and became President in June 2014. The Chartered Institute of Building is the world’s largest and most influential professional body for construction management and leadership established in 1834 with a membership of 45,000 from across the globe. Professor Aouad is the first president with a Middle Eastern background.

Professor Aouad was named in 2013 as one of the top ten academic leaders shaping executive education in the Middle East by the Middle East Economic Digest.