Dr Lance de Masi, president of the American University in Dubai

President of the American University in Dubai (AUD) Dr Lance de Masi has had a series of achievements through his life and continues to strive for the best.

De Masi studied and taught at Indiana University in the US and graduated with a major in marketing and a master's in Hispanic language and literature.

Following his education, De Masi worked with world-renowned advertising agency Leo Burnett among other agencies for the next 22 years. He also travelled the world, going to countries such as Spain, Italy, Cyprus and the UK.

Notes caught up with him on campus where he discussed his successes and future plans for the university.

Why AUD? How did you become the president?
When AUD opened, I saw an opportunity for me to come back to the academic world and combine my own interest in my discipline with my knowledge as a practitioner.

I've been in AUD since it was launched 13 years ago on October 4, 1995. I began as an adjunct instructor of marketing communications. In 1997 I joined as dean and in June of that year when the previous AUD president left I was chosen to succeed him.

I think the reasons for that are complimentary to my academic and professional experience; in my first two years in the university it was clear I was committed to excellence in teaching.

What is your vision for the university?
My vision is for AUD to become the premier institute of higher learning in the Gulf. When I say that, you have to keep in mind that there are many kinds of universities of different sizes, operating strategies, teaching philosophies, etc...

So what I mean is that I would like AUD to be the premier place to study for a complete and whole person and that (which) prepares students in the field of their choice for gainful employment and career opportunities in their area.

Any plans or changes in the curriculum?
The curriculum is alwas being updated. We are always determining and debating modifications to the programme. We recently established an economics concentration in our bachelor's of business administration and a studio arts concentration to our visual communications programme.

What message would you like to send to your students?
One is that they should try to understand that the period of time they spend here constitutes a process of development. It's not a question of only fulfilling the degree requirements. It's a question of what happens to them while they are here as people and as professionals - how they change, grow and develop.

The second thing is that because of the importance of this stage it is important that they take control of this experience. Don't leave it to chance and don't delegate the responsibility of this experience to their professors and parents.

Assume responsibility for yourself. If students go into university with this perspective they will realise beyond graduation day that this experience is truly irreplaceable.

On the horizon, AUD is looking to add the following programmes:

  • Two concentrations to our master's in business administration: healthcare management and management of construction enterprises
  • Digital arts concentration to our visual communications department;
  • Master's degree in education;
  • Autocad concentration to our interior design programme.

AUD aims to launch these programmes in the fall of 2009.