First Kurdish president of the esteemed university

Bilal Wahab named AUIS president

SULAYMANIYAH — The American University of Iraq-Sulaimani (AUIS) has appointed Dr. Bilal Wahab as its new president, succeeding President Bruce Walker Ferguson.

Selected after a comprehensive year-long international search, the university announced that Wahab is set to assume his new role in the summer. Wahab is the first Kurd and Iraqi appointed to lead AUIS.

Former Iraq President Barham Salih, chair of the board of trustees and founder of AUIS, commended Wahab’s qualifications and potential contributions. “Dr. Wahab brings a unique combination of academic rigor, research expertise, and a deep commitment to advancing education and scholarship,”

“We are confident that under his leadership, AUIS will continue to flourish and make a positive impact on the lives of its students and the broader community,” Salih added.

Expressing enthusiasm for his new role, Wahab affirmed his dedication to building on the university’s achievements. “I am honored to join the University of Iraq, Sulaimani, and I am committed to building on the strong foundation laid by President Ferguson and the entire AUIS community,” said Wahab. “I look forward to working collaboratively with faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders to further the university’s mission and contribute to the development of Kurdistan and Iraq.”

Outgoing President Bruce Walker Ferguson, concluding an eight-year tenure marked by significant milestones for AUIS, received praise for his leadership. “President Ferguson has been an exemplary leader, guiding AUIS with vision and dedication,” noted Salih. “His contributions to the university and the community are deeply appreciated, and we wish him continued success in his future endeavors.”

Wahab brings a distinguished academic and professional background to his new role. Currently serving as the Nathan and Esther K. Wagner Senior Fellow at The Washington Institute, his research has focused extensively on governance, economy, and policy within the Kurdistan Region and Iraq at large.

Wahab’s scholarly contributions include numerous articles and reports addressing crucial issues such as Iraqi and Kurdish energy policies, federalism, and regional security dynamics. In 2015, he co-founded AUIS’s Center for Development and Natural Resources, focusing on studying energy and development matters in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Wahab earned his Ph.D. at George Mason University and his master’s at the American University in Washington.

Established in 2007 after the end of the Iraq war, AUIS aims to provide high-quality, American-style liberal arts education in Iraq. Founded as a private, nonpartisan, nonsectarian, and independent institution, AUIS began its inaugural academic year with 45 students. The university operates in English and draws students from across Iraq and the broader region.

Over the years, AUIS has expanded significantly, offering a diverse range of academic programs and contributing to the intellectual and cultural landscape of the Kurdistan and Iraq. Notably, the university hosts the Suli Forum, a prominent event that convenes experts and policymakers worldwide to discuss issues vital to Iraq and the broader region.