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  • Sulaiman Shahabuddin
President Sulaiman Shahabuddin takes office at AKU

Karachi, 15 September 2021 - Today, the Aga Khan University (AKU) welcomed into office President Sulaiman Shahabuddin, the University’s third president since its founding in 1983. President Shahabuddin leads an institution that has 3,200 students on three continents, cares for two million patients in a typical year and has recently been ranked amongst the world’s top 100 universities in several fields thanks to its research prowess. He succeeds Firoz Rasul, who has retired after leading AKU to new heights during the 15 years he served as president.

President Shahabuddin is uniquely well prepared to lead AKU. He is an accomplished healthcare leader who previously served as Regional CEO of the Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS) in East Africa, which cares for more than one million patients annually. During his tenure, AKHS hospitals and health centres attracted almost US$ 150 million in external funding, underwent substantial growth, were accredited by international organisations and expanded access for low-income patients. President Shahabuddin knows the University well: he joined AKU in Karachi in 1986, spent the first 15 years of his career at the University and has worked closely with its deans to launch new nursing and medical degree programmes. He is also intimately familiar with the two regions in which AKU is primarily located. He was born, raised and educated in Pakistan, and has spent the last two decades living and working in Kenya and Tanzania.

“Today is the proudest moment of my career,” President Shahabuddin said. “AKU’s excellence in education, research and health care delivery, public-service ethos and ability to bring people together across boundaries of all kinds make it unlike any other university in the world. In returning to AKU, I feel that I am coming home.”

“With Sulaiman Shahabuddin at its helm, Aga Khan University is in good hands,” said Dr Haile Debas, Chairman of the AKU Board of Trustees and the former Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco. “His record of success, wealth of highly relevant experience and passion for the University’s mission will be invaluable in leading the University through its next era of growth and development.”

President Shahabuddin grew up in Karachi. He attended the Institute of Business Administration in Karachi, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration and an MBA. He later earned an MSc in Sustainable Development at Imperial College London/SOAS University of London and is currently finishing a Doctorate in Health Administration from Central Michigan University.

President Shahabuddin joins an AKU that has grown significantly in size, scope and stature. The University has opened cutting-edge facilities for teaching, learning and health care delivery in Nairobi and Karachi. It has launched new training, degree and research programmes in partnership with institutions such as Harvard University’s Kennedy School, Columbia University and the University of California, San Francisco. Its hospitals have repeatedly achieved international quality standards, the number of patients it treats has greatly increased and it has substantially expanded access for low-income patients. AKU’s plans for the future include building new hospital facilities and launching additional academic programmes in fields outside of the health sciences.

During the pandemic, AKU has been a valued adviser to governments, a crucial resource for patients and a trusted partner in multiple international COVID-related clinical trials.

“President Rasul pursued the vision set forth by AKU’s founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, with tremendous energy and success,” President Shahabuddin said. “I look forward to building on his formidable legacy and to working to fulfill the Chancellor’s vision for the University.”

President Shahabuddin has two AKU alumni in his immediate family. His wife, Zeenat, received her nursing degree from AKU and went on to earn a Doctorate in nursing from Johns Hopkins University. Today she is the global Head of Quality, Clinical Programmes and Projects for the Aga Khan Health Services, as well as the new Regional CEO for AKHS in East Africa. Their daughter, Anjiya, earned her medical degree from AKU in 2019. The couple also has a son, Basim, who recently graduated from the University of Toronto.

Media Contact:

Rasool Sarang, Office of Communications, Aga Khan University

M.+92 301 825 8028 | E.

About the Aga Khan University:

The Aga Khan University is a pioneering institution of higher education whose mission is to improve the quality of life in the developing world and beyond, through world-class teaching, research and health care delivery. AKU educates students for local and global leadership from campuses and teaching hospitals in six countries, primarily in Asia and Africa. It generates new knowledge to solve problems that affect millions of people, especially the most vulnerable. The University is a private, not-for-profit institution and an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network.