Thursday October 21, 2021

Sulaiman Shahabuddin assumes office as new AKU President

September 16, 2021

KARACHI: The Aga Khan University welcomed into office Sulaiman Shahabuddin as president on Wednesday, the University’s third president since its founding in 1983.

President Shahabuddin leads an institution that has 3,200 students in three continents, cares for two million patients in a year and has recently been ranked among the world’s top 100 universities in several fields due to its research prowess.

President Shahabuddin succeeded Firoz Rasul, who retired after leading the AKU to new heights during his 15-year tenure as president. President Shahabuddin is uniquely well prepared to lead the AKU. He is an accomplished healthcare leader who previously served as Regional CEO of the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) in East Africa, which cares for more than one million patients annually. During his tenure, the AKHS hospitals and health centres attracted almost $150 million in external funding, underwent substantial growth, were accredited by the international organisations and expanded access for the low-income patients.

President Shahabuddin knows the University well as he joined the AKU in Karachi in 1986. He spent the first 15 years of his career at the University and worked closely with its deans to launch new nursing and medical degree programmes. He is also intimately familiar with the two regions, in which the AKU is primarily located. He was born, raised and educated in Pakistan, and has spent the last two decades living and working in Kenya and Tanzania.

“Today is the proudest moment of my career. AKU’s excellence in education, research and healthcare delivery, public-service ethos and ability to bring the people together across the boundaries of all kinds make it unlike any other university in the world. In returning to the AKU, I feel that I am coming home,” President Shahabuddin said.

“With Sulaiman Shahabuddin at its helm, the Aga Khan University is in good hands. His record of success, wealth of highly relevant experience and passion for the University’s mission will be invaluable in leading the University through its next era of growth and development,” said Dr Haile Debas, Chairman of the AKU Board of Trustees and the former Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco.

President Shahabuddin grew up in Karachi. He attended the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration and an MBA. He later earned an MSc in Sustainable Development at Imperial College London/SOAS University of London and is currently finishing a Doctorate in Health Administration from Central Michigan University.

President Shahabuddin joins the AKU that has grown significantly in size, scope and stature. The University has opened cutting edge facilities for teaching, learning and healthcare delivery in Nairobi and Karachi. It has launched new training, degree and research programmes in partnership with the institutions, such as Harvard University’s Kennedy School, Columbia University and the University of California, San Francisco. Its hospitals have repeatedly achieved international quality standards, the number of patients it treats has greatly increased and it has substantially expanded access for the low-income patients.

The AKU’s plans for the future include building new hospital facilities and launching additional academic programmes in fields outside the health sciences. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the AKU has been a valued adviser to the governments, a crucial resource for the patients and a trusted partner in multiple international Covid-related clinical trials.

“Former president Rasul pursued the vision set forth by the AKU’s founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, with tremendous energy and success. I look forward to building on his formidable legacy and to working to fulfill the Chancellor’s vision for the University,” President Shahabuddin said.

President Shahabuddin has two AKU alumni in his immediate family. His wife, Zeenat, received her nursing degree from the AKU and went on to earn a Doctorate in nursing from Johns Hopkins University. Currently, she is the global Head of Quality, Clinical Programmes and Projects for the Aga Khan Health Services, as well as the new Regional CEO for AKHS in East Africa. Their daughter, Anjiya, earned her medical degree from the AKU in 2019. The couple also has a son, Basim, who recently graduated from the University of Toronto.