Professor Mustafa Abu Shaghour, President of the Rochester Institute of Technology, Dubai. Image Credit: Courtesy: Rochester Institute of Technology

Dubai: The president of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), Dubai was recently appointed Deputy Prime Minister of the new Libya government after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.

Professor Mustafa Abu Shaghour confirmed his new position to Gulf News via e-mail. He travelled to his home country in North Africa at the end of last year to take up his new role.

"The Libyan people have won their freedom after 42 years of oppression and now Libya is at the stage of moving from a period of revolution to building a nation," Professor Abu Shaghour was quoted as saying in the university newspaper. "I have been active for the last 30 years in supporting the efforts to liberate Libya from tyranny… [and] RIT has graciously encouraged me to answer the call of my nation."

Professor Abu Shaghour was able to return to his home country for the first time in 32 years after the fall of Gaddafi in October last year. He left many years ago as a refugee after being placed on the then regime's ‘most wanted' list due to active opposition to the regime.

In spite of his new political appointment, Professor Abu Shaghour is expected to return to his position at the Dubai campus, Dr Bill Destler, President of RIT, confirmed.

"If Mustafa continues in his position in the Libyan government, we will name a successor some time next year," Dr Destler told Gulf News via e-mail. "I felt he had little choice as a Libyan other than to try to help his country at this time; and I am very proud my friend and colleague was asked to assume this role."

Delighted and sad

Dr Destler added his belief in Professor Abu Shaghour's destiny towards greatness was the reason he chose him to head the Dubai campus of the US institution in the first place. However, as delighted as students, faculty and staff members are for Professor Abu Shaghour's opportunity, some are however, sad to see him go.

"I was mad at first because I didn't want to lose him as a boss," said Dr Buthaina Tlili, RIT Dubai faculty member, of her initial reaction to the news. "I later realised he needed to serve his country."

She said she believes Professor Abu Shaghour to be a genuinely caring person and one who will establish a sound educational system in Libya. "He will bring a good education system that is badly needed in the country," she said. "He has a genuine desire to move the country forward."

Hanan Khamis, Director of admissions and student recruitment at RIT Dubai said Professor Abu Shaghour checks in with the university to ensure smooth operation of the campus.

"Dr Mustafa does keep in touch just in case we need anything," said Khamis.