.The University was established and has been sustained throughout most of its history through the generosity of private individuals, the majority of them Americans. The founding trustees, mostly from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, donated funds to purchase the University's main campus and to cover most of the salaries and expenses of the teaching staff. Despite the financial crises generated by the Great Depression, World War II, and the 1967 Six-Day War, neither the University's academic programs nor its financial support has ever been interrupted.
For the first forty years, the Weyerhaeuser family and the Pittsburgh families of McCune, Gillespie, Lockhart, and Craig, with additional help from other individuals, covered much of the University's operating deficits. Hill House was built and later renovated with funds donated by the Weyerhaeuser family in honor of William Bancroft Hill, a family member who chaired the University's Board of Trustees for twenty years. Ewart Hall and Oriental Hall were also funded by private gifts during this period. The role of a number of American foundations, notably the Ford Foundation, has been significant to the overall development of the University. After the turbulent mid-1950's such help strengthened several units including the Social Research Center, the English Language Institute, the Graduate Management Program, and the Desert Development Center. In subsequent years, other foundations and international agencies supported specific projects and research. They include the Near East Foundation; the International Development Research Center (Canada); the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; the World Health Organization; the U.S. Agency for International Development; the United Nations Development Program; the African Development Foundation; the U.S. Department of Education; the Fulbright Commission; the Tokyo Foundation (formerly the Sasakawa Foundation); the United Nations Children's Fund; the Smithsonian; the AT&T Foundation; Schlumberger; the Amoco Foundation; the Mobil Foundation; Pfizer; the Mellon Foundation, the Starr Foundation, the Getty Grant Program and others.
During the 1950's and 1960's the nature of Egyptian-American relations impeded AUC fundraising efforts. The trustees' long-range plans, however, indicated the need for the University to expand if it were to remain a viable institution. Thus in 1959, AUC for the first time obtained U.S. government funding through the Agency for International Development (AID). AID funds derived primarily from U.S.-owned surplus Egyptian pounds resulting from American wheat sales to Egypt in the 1950's. This support allowed AUC to construct and equip its science building as well as to nearly double the size of its campus with the purchase of the nearby Greek community school. In the mid-eighties, AID had provided funds for the construction of a modern library on the Greek campus and for a dormitory in Zamalek that has been in use since 1991. AID also funded a campus-wide fiber optic network in fiscal year 1993.
The restoration of Egyptian-American relations in 1974, along with the establishment of Egypt's Open Door economic policy, allowed AUC to set the process in motion for increasing its financial independence and security. Three major factors contributed to the success of this mission.
First, the University instituted gradual tuition increases. Now the largest source of income for the University, tuition accounts for more than fifty-three percent of AUC's operating budget. AUC continues to provide tuition support for its Egyptian students, who comprise eighty-five percent of the student body, and offers both academic and need-based scholarships.
Second, in 1982, AUC launched a major fundraising campaign. The goal of the five-year campaign was to raise $22 million from private sources in the United States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states. Additionally, the University sought to develop a tradition of giving among alumni. In 1987, the University announced the successful completion of the campaign, having raised over $24 million. Not only did the University achieve its financial goal, but it also succeeded in increasing alumni participation. Among alumni donations was a major gift from a Saudi Arabian alumnus and his family to build the Jameel Center. Corporate sponsorship also increased, with significant support coming from American, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Italian and Japanese companies and foundations.
Third, the United States Congress passed legislation in 1985 that provided for the establishment of a trust fund at the American Embassy in Cairo with the income designated for AUC. Because the Egyptian pound was devalued in the years following the trust's creation, further legislation was passed in 1989 to restore it to the original value. The income from this trust replaces Egyptian-pound support formerly provided through congressional appropriations. In 1997, the University received a second trust fund from USAID.
In 1993, the Board of Trustees approved a long-range plan that set University fundraising priorities for the following five years. The highest priorities were to increase annual giving and student scholarships and fellowships, enhance the quality of academic programs through the acquisition of chairs and professorships, build the endowment for library acquisitions, and obtain funding for the University's newest facility: the Falaki Academic Center. The new center provides much needed classroom and laboratory space as well as theaters and galleries for art students' performances and exhibitions.
In 1998, the Board of Trustees approved the purchase of a 260-acre area outside of downtown Cairo that will be the site of a new, integrated campus for AUC. Plans are underway to design and build this new facility.