AUS gets new chancellor

His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi appointments of Dr. Bjorn Kjerfve as the new chancellor of AUS (Supplied)

His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qassimi, Supreme Council Member, Ruler of Sharjah and President of American University of Sharjah (AUS), has approved the appointment of Dr. Bjorn Kjerfve as the new chancellor of AUS. Dr. Kjerfve will assume his duties in July 2014.

In a message to the AUS community, the Sharjah Ruler said that the new chancellor was identified after an intensive international search that commenced last June. The university’s Board of Trustees approved his appointment as the fourth chancellor of AUS after the board’s Chancellor Search Committee had selected him as the preferred candidate.

His Highness Sheikh Sultan was pleased to note that Dr. Kjerve will be the first science specialist appointed to lead AUS. He said that Dr. Kjerfve’s background and experience will prove useful in providing guidance and leadership to the university as it undergoes an important phase of its transition.

“We firmly believe that Professor Kjerfve has demonstrated the attributes of leadership as well as the strength of character to lead AUS into its next defining phase,” said His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan. “I also want to express our grateful thanks to Dr. Thomas Hochstettler, who, following Dr. Peter Heath's sudden and untimely illness last year, provided careful stewardship of the university as Acting Chancellor. In doing so he maintained a solid foundation for this transition. Dr. Hochstettler will continue in his role of Acting Chancellor through this academic year,” he added. The Ruler of Sharjah welcomed Dr. Kjerfve to AUS and wished him the success in his new role.

Dr. Kjerfve thanked His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah for the trust and confidence placed in him and said that he would do his best to contribute towards developing the university and in helping it achieve its goals, especially with regards to scientific research and the vision His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan had for AUS.

The official appointment ceremony was held today March 16 on campus in the presence of AUS Board of Trustees Hamid D. Jafar, Riad T. Sadek, Maroun A. Semaan, Abdul Jalil Yousuf Darwish, and Varouj Nerguizian as well as senior university officials.

Dr. Kjerfve holds a Ph.D. in marine sciences from Louisiana State University, a Master’s of Science degree in oceanography from the University of Washington, and a Bachelor of Sciences degree in mathematics from Georgia Southern University. 

He has outstanding experience as both a university leader and a researcher. He has been President of the World Maritime University in Malmo Sweden since 2009. The World Maritime University is a UN postgraduate university established in 1983 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) with a mission for maritime education, research, and human capacity building. Prior to that, Dr. Kjerfve was the Dean of the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University in the United States of America.  While at Texas A&M University, he oversaw four academic departments, the Texas Sea Grant Program, and the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) that includes the 475 ocean sciences drilling vessel, D/V JOIDES Resolution. He also served as the Director of the Marine Science Program at the University of South Carolina. He has served on a variety of boards that include the International Executive Board of the International Association of Maritime Universities. He has also won a variety of awards and honors including being elected as a corresponding member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences in 2012. 

Dr. Kjerfve’s expertise is in coastal and estuarine physical oceanography. He has published 12 books and 250 scientific journal papers, book chapters, and reports; has supervised 14 Ph.D. dissertations and 24 M.S. theses, and taught more than 6,000 oceanography students. He has given more than 500 presentations at national and international scientific and professional meetings and has given invited lectures at more than 200 universities worldwide. He has also participated in more than 200 specialized technical/scientific workshops and research planning meetings.

His research includes problem-solving in estuarine and coastal waters as well as climate change and has attracted considerable research funding for 90 projects. Dr. Kjerfve’s field research has taken place along the East and Gulf coasts of the USA, the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Thailand, Malaysia, the Arabian Gulf, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.