With the support of His Highness Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras Al Khaimah, the University was initially established as George Mason University, Ras Al Khaimah campus (GMU-RAK) in 2005. After George Mason University decided to discontinue its operations in Ras Al Khaimah in 2009, the Crown Prince decreed the establishment of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) in the same location. Students who had enrolled in GMU-RAK were given the opportunity to continue at AURAK, transfer to GMU’s main campus in Virginia, USA, or transfer to another institution.
Following the short-term presidencies of Professor Sharon Siverts (2009-10) and Dr. Shaukat Mirza (2010-11), AURAK’s Board of Trustees appointed Professor Hassan Hamdan Al Alkim as vice chancellor. Subsequent changes in organizational structure saw Professor Al Alkim named as president in 2014.
Over the past three years, the University has developed new academic programs, attracted new faculty and staff, and significantly increased its student enrollment. This rapid change has required an adaptable organizational structure to accommodate the effective and efficient delivery of programs and services. Consequently, in 2013, vice president positions were added. As part of the same process, the Office of International Programs, the Teaching and Learning Center, the Development Office, and the Center for Continuing Education were all established. The new organizational structure also included the creation of four academic schools: the School of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering, the School of Business, and the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
Today, AURAK’s strategy is to focus its efforts on cultivating excellence within existing curricular offerings while improving policies and procedures across the institution. Student enrollment is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 35% over the next five years. It is also expected that, with an increasingly strong global economy, AURAK will capture the attention of educators, economists, business entrepreneurs and other professionals who want to take advantage of the programs and services the institution offers, meeting national and regional workforce needs and earning the University regional and global recognition.