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Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences:
Bernadette L DEAN
Hamid Ali KHAN
Ian Phil CANLAS
Ahmad Ali SHAH
Robert Wren GORDON
Aigul KANTORO KYZY
Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Central Asia (UCA). Since 2014 and until the appointment of UCA’s Rector, he is responsible for leading the planning, building and operation of the campuses and programmes of the University across all three of its Founding States.
Dr. Kassim-Lakha has a long association with UCA. He served as co-chair of the Commission on the Establishment of an International Institution of Higher Education, a distinguished panel of international and regional members who in 1988 developed the concept for the University. In 2000, he was involved in the negotiations of the International Treaty that led to UCA’s establishment by the governments of Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan. In 2014, Dr. Kassim-Lakha was appointed Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network to the Kyrgyz Republic.
As Founding President of the Aga Khan University (AKU), the first private university chartered in South Asia, for nearly three decades Dr. Kassim-Lakha led the planning, building and operations of this internationally renowned institution established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1983 with campuses in Pakistan, Eastern Africa and the United Kingdom.
Dr. Kassim-Lakha has served in senior positions in the Pakistan government, including as the country’s Minister of Education and as Minister of Science and Technology in the caretaker government in 2007-8. As Minister of State in 2001-2, he led the task force which recommended higher education reforms in Pakistan, resulting in major structural changes in universities and the creation of the Higher Education Commission, of which he was a member from 2007 to 2011. He also chaired the committee which wrote Pakistan’s National Environment Protection Act (1997). The first two decades of his career were with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development where he served as Managing Director of Industrial Promotion Services of Pakistan, a manufacturing and venture capital company with a work force of 22,000.
Dr. Kassim-Lakha is a Senior Distinguished Fellow with the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. Recently he retired as Founding Chair of the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy Board, where he served for fifteen years, and from the international Board of the International Baccalaureate Organisation. Dr. Kassim-Lakha has written and published on school and higher education, philanthropy, civil society and management in renowned journals including the Lancet and Nature and has contributed book chapters on these themes.
Dr. Kassim-Lakha received his undergraduate education from the South Bank and Westminister Universities, in London and completed his graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, USA.
In recognition of his academic and social work, Dr. Kassim-Lakha has received honorary degrees from McMaster University, Canada and the Aga Khan University. His awards for distinguished service include Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz from the President of Pakistan and Officer of the National Order of Merit from the President of France.
Educated at Bishop’s University, University of Toronto, University of Glasgow, he received a doctorate from the University of Oxford. Until 1991, Dr. Bohdan Krawchenko was professor in the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies and director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta. He worked for many years as a consultant to the Secretary of State, Government of Canada, and Ministry of Culture, Province of Alberta. In 1991 Krawchenko moved to Ukraine to become Director of Policy Studies at the Council of Advisors to the Parliament of Ukraine, and 1992 became founder and director of the Institute of Public Administration and Local Government, Cabinet of Ministers. In 1995 the Institute was re-organised into the Academy of Public Administration, Office of the President of Ukraine and he was appointed vice-rector for academic development and Director of the Centre for the Study of Administration Reform. Krawchenko participated in numerous Ukrainian government committees, task forces and working groups. These include the President’s Council on Social and Economic Affairs, the Policy Unit of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Working Group on the Establishment of the Civil Service, the Working Group on Monetary Reform and the Commission on Administrative Reform. He has also served as a consultant to the World Bank and OECD. He was visiting associate professor at Harvard University, Department of Government, and visiting professor at the College of Europe in Natolin, Poland. In 1995 he received an honourary doctorate from the University of North London, in 1997 was made an honourary professor of the University of ‘Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’, in 2000 received an honourary doctorate from the Ukrainian Academy of Public Administration, and in 2000 was awarded an Order of Merit from the President of Ukraine. Krawchenko was editor of “Occasional Papers in Public Administration and Public Policy” published by the Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe, and member of international editorial boards of several journals among them Public Management and Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis. Krawchenko joined the University of Central Asia in October 2004, where he currently serves as the Director General.
Muzaffar Jorubov serves as Chief Operating Officer at UCA. He has over 18 years of experience in administrative and operations management, and has worked with a number of international organisations, including Save the Children, the United Nations Development Programme and the Aga Khan Development Network Representation Office in Tajikistan. Prior to joining UCA, he served as the Executive Officer of the Ismaili Centre, Dushanbe developing and implementing institutional policies, managing operations and programmes, and cultivating and managing relations with its internal and external stakeholders. Earlier in his career, Jorubov worked with educational institutions, including as lecturer with Tajik Technical University, and as a deputy headmaster and teacher at a district centre high school. Jorubov has an MBA from Durham University Business School, United Kingdom and a mechanical engineering degree with honours from Tajik Technical University. He has also participated in numerous professional training courses on administrative management, security management and treasury management.
Rahim Somani provides leadership and oversight to UCA’s Finance Division. He is also responsible for co-ordinating discussions and negotiations for large-capital project financing. As a member of UCA’s senior executive team, he plays a critical role in the planning and development of a multi-campus university. Over the past two decades, Somani has held senior positions in the education sector. His has experience in primary, secondary and tertiary education across Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Kazakhstan. His expertise includes finance; strategic and financial planning; project financing; human resource management, systems and MIS; administration; capital projects; corporate affairs; internal audit and programme management. Prior to joining UCA, Somani spent over a decade with the Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan (AKES, P) as Manager for Humanitarian Assistance Programmes; General Manager for Finance, Planning and Support Services; Company Secretary; Deputy Chief Executive Officer; and Acting CEO. Somani was also part of the Aga Khan University Hospital internal audit team. He completed his CA articleship at A.F. Ferguson & Co., a member firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers. Somani is a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA) and a Cost & Management Accountant (CMA) from Pakistan and qualified Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and CA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia, Canada. He holds an MA in Educational Planning, Economics and International Development from the Institute of Education, University College London (formerly University of London). He is also an alumnus of the Institute for Educational Management, Harvard Institutes for Higher Education (IEM Class of 2014) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Director, Advancement and Public Affairs
Nasir Pirani heads the Resource Development and Public Affairs Department at UCA. Although he has recently joined the University, he has been associated with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for decades, and held a similar position at the Aga Khan University in Karachi for 17 years (1978-1996). He was instrumental in establishing the first Resource Development and Public Affairs Department at AKU, and helped raise over $150 million in donations, grants, and endowments. Thereafter he returned to the United States where he had a successful real estate investment and brokerage business. A graduate of Columbia University, and an architect by training, he now brings his broad-based experience to another start up university - UCA.
Grant Robertson leads the team managing the design and construction of the three UCA campuses. Prior to joining UCA, he was project director with Mace International responsible for a luxury 5-star hotel and residential development, constructed to 4 Seasons standards and specifications. He has extensive experience working in the former USSR, CIS and Eastern European countries, as well as in his home country of Scotland. Over the 25 years of his professional career, he has worked on projects in 13 countries and earned a well-respected reputation for the successful completion of complex projects in remote areas. Prior to joining UCA, Mr Robertson served as the Regional Director of Emerging Markets in Central and Eastern Europe with Bovis Lend Lease, an internationally renowned property group specializing in project management, construction, real estate investment and development. In that role, he led 13 projects across four countries and built a team to meet the demands of their growing business. Before that, Mr Robertson worked with Philip Morris Engineering, where he was responsible for the design, management, and operationalization of their tobacco plant in Kharkiv, Ukraine.
Dr. Razi Azmat serves as Director of Human Resources at UCA. He is a human resources professional with extensive experience and expertise in the development, communication and implementation of a pay for performance culture through effective human resource policies and best practices, people management and maintaining a high level of motivation in organisations. Prior to joining UCA, Dr. Azmat was Head of Human Resources at Habib Bank Ltd (HBL), the largest bank in Pakistan with 14,000 employees, over 1,500 branches in-country and operations in 24 countries. At HBL, he was actively involved in restructuring, change management and cultural transformation processes. He provided leadership in leveraging the Bank’s human resources for optimum value addition. Dr. Azmat is a member of the Aga Khan Development Network’s Human Resource Executive Committee. He has a degree in medicine from the University of Karachi, Pakistan.
Amaan Pardhan is UCA’s Board Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Chairman. Prior to joining UCA, Pardhan worked as Executive Officer, Office of the Provost at the Aga Khan University. From 2009-11, he served as Programme Support Officer with the Aga Khan Development Network’s (AKDN) Resident Representative’s Office in Tajikistan, working closely with key stakeholders including government, diplomatic and donor communities to promote national and regional development initiatives. In addition, he served as Secretary to the AKDN Forum comprising of Agency Heads based in Tajikistan. Pardhan has a Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of Alberta, a Masters in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London and a post-graduate diploma in Islamic Studies and Humanities from the Institute of Ismaili Studies, United Kingdom.
Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
Dr. Roza Kazakbaeva is an Associate Professor of English for Academic Purposes with UCA’s Undergraduate Preparatory Programme. Kazakbaeva has more than 20 years of experience teaching English as a foreign language. She holds a PhD in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) and Composition from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining UCA, Kazakbaeva taught at the Kazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages, where she developed and taught courses for the departments of linguistics and cross-cultural communications. She is trained in teaching and curriculum methodology by Seneca College, Canada.
Senior Lecturer of English Language, Khorog Campus
Meredith Bishop is a Senior Lecturer of English language with UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining UCA, Bishop has taught in private and public institutions, universities and colleges in Canada, France, Greece, Japan, and the Arabian Gulf. She has extensive experience teaching English as a foreign language adult learners (Levels A1 to C2 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages). Bishop has experience developing curriculum and materials for English for Academic Purposes, English for Specific Purposes and general language programmes. She has participated in programme assessment initiatives, analysis and modification of course content and instructional design. In addition, Bishop has taught test preparation for IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL, FACE, PET, KET and CAEL. She has been an IELTS examiner for a decade and is a published author in TOEIC. She holds a Master of Applied Linguistics from University of Southern Queensland, a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. She is a certified Ontario Ministry of Education teacher and has a Second Language Certification Qualification from University of Toronto. She is trained in neurolinguistics programming and is an Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator.
Hamid Ali KHAN
Senior Lecturer of English, Naryn Campus
Hamid Ali Khan is a Senior Lecturer of English with UCA’s Undergraduate Preparatory Programme. Khan has more than 15 years of English language teaching experience. Prior to joining UCA, he lectured at the Royal Commission Yanbu Colleges & Institutes (RCYCI) in Saudi Arabia. There, he taught a range of general, academic, occupational and technical English courses to foundation and undergraduate students. He also held various administrative positions including Course Coordinator, Foundation Year English Coordinator, Chair of Research and Professional Development Committee, and member of the Yanbu English Language Institute (YELI) Advisory Council. He also trained RCYCI faculty. Khan has contributed to YELI’s institutional accreditation from the Commission on English Language Accreditation (CEA) and Evaluation & Accreditation of Quality in Language Services (EAQUALS). He holds an MA (TESOL) from Middlesex University, UK, and an MA English from Islamia University Bahawalpur, Pakistan. He is certified in teaching English language to adults (CELTA) by the University of Cambridge. He has also acquired Certification in Teaching Languages with Technology from Trinity College, UK. Currently, he is pursuing his EdD TESOL with the University of Exeter, UK as a part time student.
Lecturer of English, Khorog Campus
Shams Sharif is a Lecturer of English with UCA’s Undergraduate Preparatory Programme. Previously he held the position of Document Controller/Translator for UCA’s Construction and Facilities Division in Khorog. Before joining UCA, Sharif worked as an Instructor of Academic English and Director of Studies at the Khorog English and Preparatory Programme. In addition to Sharif’s teaching experience, he holds a Master’s of Arts in Contemporary European Studies from the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. He also has a Bachelor’s degree in History and Sociology from Khorog State University.
Associate Professor of Mathematics, Naryn Campus
Dr. Kholiknazar Kuchakshoev is an Associate Professor of Mathematics based in the Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic campus. He brings over ten years of teaching experience in various higher education roles. Prior to joining UCA, Kuchakshoev worked as a Maths teacher in a gymnasium and as a Math instructor in the UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. He has taught Maths at the Russian-Tajik (Slavonic) University and has held various positions including Deputy Dean for Instructional Works and Vice-Executive Director for science and social issues with the Moscow State University affiliate in Dushanbe. Kuchakshoev also worked as a science researcher with the Institute of Mathematics in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Kuchakshoev holds a PhD in Mathematics from the Institute of Mathematics in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Senior Lecturer of Mathematics, Naryn Campus
Dr. Oliver Kayende is a Senior Lecturer of Mathematics with UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining UCA, Kayende taught at the Cesar Chavez Public School for Public Policy. Dr. Kayende holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the Howard University, USA. His dissertation addressed the asymptotics of quadratic residue codes. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Pure Mathematics from the University of Bridgeport, USA where he received honours for independent study in both the calculus of variations and the theory of fracture mechanics in homogeneous materials.
Dr. Ramzan Ali is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics with the UCA School of Arts and Sciences. Previously, he was a UCA Central Asian Faculty Development Programme Fellow, Research Associate at Quaid-i-Azam University, PhD and postdoctoral researcher with the Technical University of Dortmund (Germany). He supervised numerous graduate students and taught several courses in mathematics. He serves on editorial boards and actively reviews for various international scientific journals in applied mathematics and computational science. Dr. Ali’s research interests include computational mathematics, biomathematics, fluid dynamics, non-linear partial differential equations, and material sciences. He has presented at various conferences and published number of research articles on numerical schemes for solutions of non-linear partial differential equations. Specifically, his doctoral research focused on developing a numerically stable scheme for simulation of evolving membrane on surfaces. He holds a PhD in Mathematics from the Technical University of Dortmund (Germany), MSc and MPhil, both in Applied Mathematics from Quaid-i-Azam University (Pakistan), and BSc from the University of the Punjab Lahore (Pakistan). He also holds a BEd from Allama Iqbal Open University (Pakistan) focusing teaching of Physics and Mathematics.
Assistant Professor of History, Khorog Campus
Dr Sultonbek Aksakolov is an Assistant Professor of History with the UCA School of Arts and Sciences. Previously, he held research positions with the Institute of Humanities in Khorog (Tajikistan), Uppsala University (Sweden), and the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) (UK). Most recently, Dr Aksakolov completed a post-doctoral fellowship with the IIS. There, he led workshops to develop the capacity of local researchers and supported grant applications by postgraduate students researching Pamiri ethnography. He also lectured graduate students and was a teaching assistant at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is a Visiting Research Fellow with the Centre for Islamic Studies under the Office of the President of Tajikistan. Previously he was a consultant with the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation, Tajikistan. He is on the UK-based Chevening Scholarships Reading Committee and is a principal examiner for the International Baccalaureate Organisation (UK). His research interests include the history of Soviet Central Asia, state policy and Islam, intellectual and social developments in the region. He has authored articles on Ismailia of Central Asia, education and development challenges in the region. Dr Aksakolov holds a PhD in History from SOAS, University of London and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge. He has a graduate certificate in Islamic Studies and Humanities from IIS, as well as a Bachelors degree in Tajik Philology from the Khorog State University.
Visiting Lecturer of History, Naryn Campus
Rebekah Ramsay is a Visiting Lecturer of History with UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences. Prior to joining UCA, she taught Central Asian history at the undergraduate level, and taught modern European history and English as a Foreign Language. She has received fellowships from Emory University and the American Councils for International Education. Her current research focuses on the cultural revolution in early Soviet Kazakhstan, based on archival research from Almaty, Semey, and Shymkent. She has also begun preliminary research on the role of Soviet Central Asia in 20th century Muslim internationalism. She holds a Master of Arts in History from Emory University, USA, where she is currently completing her doctoral degree.
Dr Murodbek Laldjebaev is an Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences with UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences and Mountain Societies Research Institute. Prior to joining UCA, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University, where he obtained his PhD in Natural Resources. Laldjebaev has held fellowships with UCA’s Central Asian Faculty Development Programme (CAFDP) and Central Asia and Afghanistan Research Fellowship (CAARF), and worked as a Research Associate on undergraduate core curriculum development for UCA. Previously, he also headed curriculum development and programme evaluation for the Institute for Professional Development of teachers in Khorog, consulted the World Bank on pre-service education, and worked as a Senior Specialist with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Tajikistan. He holds a Master’s in Public Policy degree from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore, and a Bachelor’s degree with Distinction in English Language from Khorog State University. He has also completed non-degree courses on education at the University of Saint Thomas, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Upper Canada College. His research and scholarship include energy security, energy poverty, energy sovereignty, water resources management, food sovereignty, and the energy-water-food nexus.
Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Public Policy & Administration, and Visiting Lecturer of Economics
Dr. Kanat Tilekeyev is a Research Fellow with UCA’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration and a Visiting Lecturer of Economics with UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences. He is engaged in research and capacity-building projects enhancing social cohesion through community-driven development, and gender and employment in Central Asia. Prior to joining UCA, Tilekeyev has worked as an Economist and Agricultural Specialist with the Kyrgyz Agricultural Institute, and in the private sector (oil, food processing and agricultural production). His doctoral research defined and empirically validated the main determinants of rural poverty in Kyrgyzstan, and provided recommendations for growth in agriculture. Kanat holds Masters and PhD in Transition Studies/Economics from the Center for International Development and Environmental Research, University of Giessen, Germany and Bachelor of Science in Economics from Kyrgyz Agricultural Institute.
Research Assistant to the Director General, Research Fellow to the Institute of Public Policy and Administration, and Assistant Professor of Political Science
Dr. Kemel Toktomushev is a Research Fellow with UCA’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration and an Assistant Professor of Political Science with UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences. Toktomushev has extensive experience in both Western and Central Asian environments, and his primary research interests focus on regime security, virtual politics, and the informal political economy of Central Asia. Toktomushev is the author of Kyrgyzstan – Regime Security and Foreign Policy published by Routledge, United Kingdom. Toktomushev holds a PhD in Politics from the University of Exeter and a Master of Science in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He is also a Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Education alumnus.
Visiting Instructor of Kyrgyz Language, Naryn Campus
Akylbek Chymyrbaev is a Visiting Instructor of Kyrgyz Language. Prior to joining UCA, Chymyrbaev worked as a Regional Specialist for the Halal Industry Development Centre. He has more than a decade of experience with international organisations such as the Kyrgyz-Swiss Association for Cooperation Helvetas-Kyrgyzstan, and the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, Kyrgyz Republic. He lectured at the Moscow Institute of Entrepreneurship in Karakol and developed Kyrgyz literature and teaching material for vocational schools. He holds a Diploma in Kyrgyz Language and Literature, and Arab Language and Literature from the Naryn State University.
Visiting Instructor of Tajik Language, Khorog Campus
Shahlo Nekushoeva is UCA’s Visiting Instructor of Tajik Language. She has more than 15 years of experience in teaching, administration, management and translation. Early in her career, she taught Farsi Language and Literature at the Khorog State University. She then progressed to scientific research with the the Institute of Humanities’s Pamirian Languages Department. In 2013, she was elected as Secretary of the Institute of Humanities. She has written a series of articles, a book and monograph. She holds a Diploma in Oriental Studies with concentration in Farsi and Tajik Languages and Literature from the Khorog State University and a Diploma of Candidate of Sciences in Linguistics.
Farrukh Saidhasanshoev is UCA’s Visiting Instructor of Tajik Language. Prior to joining UCA, Saidhasanshoev taught Humanities and Social Studies for the Aga Khan Education Services in Khorog, Tajikistan. Previously, he was as a Journal Editor with the Institute for Teacher Professional Development, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). He was a reporter for GBAO TV and Radio, and taught Tajik/Persian language and literature at the Khorog State University. Saidhasanshoev holds an MA in Teaching and MA (Education) from University of London’s Institute of Education. He also holds a Diploma in Tajik Language and Literature from the Khorog State University.
Ahmad Ali SHAH
Campus Librarian, Naryn Campus
Ahmad Ali Shah is the UCA Naryn Campus Librarian. He has over 14 years of experience and professional practice specialising as a librarian of reference, collection development and information literacy. Prior to joining UCA, he served as an Associate Librarian with the Aga Khan University (AKU) Faculty of Health Sciences Library. He has also worked with the Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, Fatima Jinnah Dental College, Aga Khan Education Services, Institute of Chartered Accountants, and the AKU-Institute for Educational Development in Pakistan. Shah holds a dual Master’s degrees in Library and Information Sciences and International Relations from the University of Karachi, Pakistan.
Library Coordinator, Naryn Campus
Askhat Muratzhan is UCA’s Library Coordinator. Prior to joining UCA, Muratzhan worked as a Coordinator and Information Technology Specialist with the S. Orozbakov Naryn Oblast Library American Corner. Previously, he was an instructor with UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education in Naryn. He taught English language at the Naryn Development and Teaching Centre. He holds a Diploma in Philological Education from Naryn State University and pursued Accounting at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
Aigerim Miyatova leads UCA’s undergraduate recruitment efforts in its three founding states. She began her career in American University of Central Asia’s (AUCA) Admissions and Recruitment Officein Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, where she gained valuable experience in the planning, management and execution of local and international recruitment initiatives. Aigerim holds a Bachelor of Arts in International and Comparative Politics from AUCA and a Master of Arts in Educational and Cultural Policy from the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
Erik Krauss manages student life at UCA. He has spent much of his career providing student services in an international context, including at the Emerson College European Centre, Netherlands and at New York University in Florence, Italy. Prior to joining UCA, Krauss was responsible for selecting Central American applicants for the Walton International Scholarship programme at the University of the Ozarks and mentoring them during their studies. He also served as Dean of Student Development, Brescia University and Director of International Education, Drew University. Krauss holds degrees from the University of Portland, Eastern Washington University and Cornell University.
University Counsellor, Khorog Campus
Robin Higgins is based at UCA’s Khorog campus. Prior to joining UCA, Higgins worked with Canada’s Selkirk College for 12 years, where she provided personal and career counselling as well as course advise. She served as Selkirk’s Trauma Assistance Team coordinator and Status of Women Committee’s Union Representative. Higgins was part of the design team for her provincial Healthy Minds/Healthy Campus project. A passionate advocate for student engagement and wellness, Higgins piloted residential projects in nutrition, creativity and community building. She trained campus residence advisors in suicide awareness, communications and leadership skills. Before working at Selkirk College, Higgins worked as a youth mental health clinician and provided counselling for women and children who experienced violence. Higgins holds a Masters in Counselling from the University of Victoria, Canada. In addition, she is a certified English as a Second Language instructor, high school English teacher and undertaken Mediation and Mindfulness Based Art Therapy and Stress Reduction Training.
Anastasiia Slastnikova is UCA’s Campus Counsellor. Slastinkova is a psychologist with more than a decade of experience as a counsellor, trainer and expert. Prior to joining UCA, she worked as a counsellor in a Crisis Centre. She is one of the founders of the Central Asian Interdisciplinary Professional Platform and worked with the Reproductive Health Alliance in Kyrgyzstan. Slastinkova specialises in psycho-social support services such as emergencies, post-conflict, crises and stress management. She holds an МA in Counselling from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.
Assistant Manager of Student Affairs, Khorog Campus
Shabana Manji holds an undergraduate degree in Humanities from the University of Lethbridge and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Royal Roads University. Prior to joining UCA, Manji worked at the Aga Khan Foundation, Canada as a Public Affairs Coordinator. She has also worked in various capacities with students and university administration at Mount Royal University, the University of Lethbridge and the Government of Alberta. In addition, Manji is also certified in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Student Life Advisor, Naryn Campus
Asylbek Abdikarimov holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Kyrgyz National Univeristy. Prior to joining to UCA, Abdikarimov worked in private sector including fast-moving consumer goods retail and e-commerce. He is also a member of the Association of Social Entrepreneurs of Kyrgyzstan where he supports the local start-up ecosystem by promoting youth entrepreneurship and organising business training for youth in the region.
Student Life Advisor, Naryn Campus
Sabah Ali holds an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining UCA, she worked as a mathematics teacher in the United States. She has also previously worked as a business analyst and university academic tutor. Ali has also volunteered with UCA’s Summer and Winter Upgrading programmes before.
Robert Wren GORDON
Student Life Advisor, Khorog Campus
Robert Wren Gordon holds a Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies, French and Romance Philology from Columbia University, New York. Prior to joining UCA, he worked at private-equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC and at the law firms Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP and Romano Law PLLC. He was also an intern with the United States Department of State (Embassy Yaoundé). Gordon holds a Diplôme de Français Professionnel des Affaires B2 (DFP Affaires B2) avec mention bien and speaks French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan, in addition to his native English.
Student Life Advisor, Khorog Campus
Bonu Hafizova holds a Linguistics degree with cum laude honours from the M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Prior to joining UCA, Hafizova worked as Executive Director with the Tajik Community Based Tourism Association and ACTED, an international non-governmental organisation. She led the Aga Khan Humanities Project (AKHP) Debate Club in Khorog and was a trainer.
Aigul Kantoro Kyzy holds a BA (International Relations) from the Kyrgyz Turkish Manas University. Prior to joining UCA, she worked at the Beyond Investment Group. Kantoro was previously a UCA Summer Camp counsellor and has tutored in English. She was an intern with the Red Crescent National Society, the Women Support Centre, and Central Asian Research Centre in Kyrgyzstan.
Student Life Advisor, Khorog Campus
Sheroz Naimov holds an undergraduate degree in Journalism, Tajik language and Literature from the Khorog State University, Tajikistan. Prior to joining UCA, Naimov worked as Coordinator of the American Corner in Khorog and was Director Jahoni Mo, a public organisation. Since 2008, he facilitated at national summer camps and the Global Encounters, an international youth camp.
Anna Hughes serves as the Registrar. She brings over a decade of higher education experience from multi-campus institutions in Canada and the Middle East. Prior to joining UCA, Hughes worked as System Registrar at the Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates where she led the Registrar’s operations for over 20,000 students at 17 campuses overseeing admissions, enrollment, academic progression, graduation as well as institutional strategic planning and policy development. She served as an ex officio member of a number of institution-wide committees. Hughes has a Bachelors in Economics from Omsk, Russia and a Masters in International Development from University of Northern British Columbia, Canada.
Dr. Gulnara Dzunushalieva supervises all activities and personnel of SPCE in the three countries, including administering the development, coordination, maintenance, and evaluation for the educational programme. She has built support with local communities and international organisations and has ensured quality of activities. Prior to joining UCA, she was Director of Bishkek International School of Management and Business (MBA programme) under Academy of Management of President of Kyrgyz Republic and Manager of Economy Department of Kyrgyz State National University, ITPS. Dr. Dzunushalieva holds an MBA, and a degree in economic science, and is a Certified International Professional Accountant.
Dr. Dietrich Schmidt-Vogt leads the Mountain Societies Research Institute at UCA. A geographer and Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation Fellow, Dr. Schmidt-Vogt previously served as the Head of the Research Programme at the World Agroforestry Centre East and Central Asia Office and as Professor at the Kunming Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He was an Associate Professor with the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand and a Senior Lecturer with the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University, Germany. Dr. Schmidt-Vogt has doctoral and postdoctoral degrees from Heidelberg University, Germany and over 30 years of research experience in mountain areas, primarily the Himalayan and Mekong regions in South and Southeast Asia. His research interests include forest-farming interactions, multifunctional landscapes, integrated land use systems, and land use change and livelihoods in mountainous areas. He has extensive experience in teaching and supervising Masters and PhD students from diverse national and cultural backgrounds, as well as in capacity building and curriculum development for academic institutions in Southeast Asia, such as the Royal University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, National University of Laos, and Andalas University in Padang, Indonesia.
Director of Legal Affair
Nurzhan Albanov is the Director of Legal Affairs at the University of Central Asia. Prior to joining UCA, Albanov worked as a Senior Associate with Dentons Kazakhstan. He specialises in corporate law, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, banking and finance, natural resources and other fields of law. His expertise is dedicated to consulting major mining, oil and gas companies and financial organisations on conducting business in both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In addition to numerous in-house professional training courses at Dentons, Albanov also completed sustainable development courses at California University, USA. Albanov graduated from the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University, Kyrgyzstan and the Frankfurt am Main University Institute for Law and Finance in Germany.
Dilovar Butabekov is Deputy Director of the School of Professional and Continuing Education with responsibility of Tajikistan and Afghanistan programmes and campus head of Khorog. Butabekov has had a long career with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), having started as a junior staff member in the AKDN office in Khorog, and then progressed to the position of Administration Manager for the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), Tajikistan and Director of Administration for AKF, Tajikistan. Butabekov holds an Executive MBA (with merit) from the Bradford University School of Management, a Diploma in Economics from the School of Entrepreneurship, Ukraine, and a degree in Civil Aviation Engineering from the Kyiv Civil Aviation Engineering Institute.
Dr. Roman Mogilevskii coordinates the Institute of Public Policy and Administration at UCA. He has extensive experience researching trade policy, public finance, and macroeconomics in Central Asia and Central Europe. He has also participated in the implementation of research, advisory and training programs across the CIS and has published numerous papers on the issues of regional cooperation and economic policy. Dr. Mogilevskii has held advisory positions at a variety of international organizations operating in Central Asia, such as the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Commission. He has also served as the Executive Director of the Center for Social and Economic Research in Kyrgyzstan (CASE-Kyrgyzstan). Dr. Mogilevskii holds a Candidate of Sciences degree in Physics and Mathematics from the Institute of Mechanics of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences and a degree in Engineering and Economics from the Frunze Polytechnic Institute.
Dr. Sharofat Mamadambarova has been affiliated with AKHP since 1998 in curriculum development and assessment, and as a Master Trainer at Khorog State University where she also served as head of the department, Dean of Humanities and as Deputy to the Rector from 1992-2000. Prior to joining UCA, Dr. Mamadambarova taught and managed projects at Dushanbe Pedagogical University’s foreign languages faculty for more than 16 years as an assistant professor, head of the department and as a vice dean. Dr. Mamadambarova has served as a consultant for research projects with the Christensen Fund and participated in numerous exchanges and trainings on pedagogy and assessment in the United States. She received her PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1990. She is currently on sabbatical.
Dr. Elmira Köchümkulova coordinates the Cultural Heritage & Humanities Unit at the University of Central Asia (UCA) and is an Associate Professor of the School of Arts and Sciences. She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees with the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Washington and is one of the leading cultural anthropologists in the region. She has edited books and authored articles on Central Asian music, oral traditions, Islam and nomadic cultures. She has presented extensively at international conferences and lectured on Central Asian Islam, Kyrgyz musical and oral traditions, nomadic life and funeral customs at leading universities and research centres including Harvard University’s Central Asian Studies Group, the University of Chicago’s Central Asian Studies Society and Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. Dr. Köchümkulova’s research focuses on the historical and contemporary significance of traditions and customs in Turkic Central Asia. She is the co-editor of the UCA/Aga Khan Music Initiative textbook Music of Central Asia: An Introduction, contributing several chapters on Kyrgyz oral tradition and music and taught the UCA pilot course based on the textbook. She served as scholarly editor and coordinated the production of a seminal two-volume collection Kyrgyz Küüs: Analysis, Thoughts, and Opinions (in Kyrgyz language), the first scholarly text on Kyrgyz instrumental music authored by Asan Kaybïlda uulu and published by the UCA Cultural Heritage Book Series. Dr. Köchümkulova is currently working on several books on topics ranging from Kyrgyz national identity to Kyrgyz funeral lamentations. She speaks six languages and is an accomplished musician and composer, having performed widely across the United States and Central Asia.
Head of Internal Audit
Shameer Muljiani heads the Internal Audit Department at UCA and reports to the Audit Committee. Prior to joining UCA, he worked with global and regional multinational corporations in Canada, Hong Kong, Qatar and India. In recent years, Muljiani has been a member of top management providing presentations to the Board of Directors and Audit Committee. He has extensive knowledge and experience of Internal Audit, Risk Management, Compliance & Information Systems. Throughout his career, Muljiani has developed risk management frameworks, compliance frameworks, managed internal audit assignments, led data analytics team, headed an insurance audit specialist team, and performed various information technology audits and business consulting assignments. He has facilitated technology development in different business units and processes. Muljiani has delivered internal control workshops and various skill-based trainings. He is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA), Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) and Chartered Accountant (CA).
Mir Khudobakhshov has worked with the University of Central Asia (UCA) for more than a decade and is responsible for the oversight of finance functions including systems development and compliance. In 2002, he joined UCA in Khorog, as Head of Operations and later moved to Bishkek as Finance Manager. Before joining UCA, he worked with the Aga Khan Development Network, Tajikistan as Liaison Officer and previously as Assistant Coordinator for FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance. Mir has a Master of Science in Development Policy and Project Management from the University of Bradford (UK) and is an ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) member. Mir also has a Certificate in International Financial Reporting Standards from ACCA (UK) and Certificate in Business Communication from the University of Toronto (Canada). Mir has played a key role in the implementation of iSCALA (financial information system) at UCA.
Parviz Alidodkhonov joined the University of Central Asia in 2009. As Head of Administration, he is responsible for procurement, supply processes, travel, transportation, policy and regulations. He oversees the administrative function of the University across all three countries – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic. Before joining UCA, from 2002 – 2004, Parviz worked for the Aga Khan Foundation, Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, and with FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance from 2004 – 2005, managing their procurement and logistics. Parviz successfully completed an MBA with the American University of Central Asia in 2015. He also has a BSc in Philology from the Tajik-Russian Slavonic University.
Dr. Salim Sumar leads UCA’s Central Asian Faculty Development Programme (CAFDP). Dr. Sumar has worked in various senior positions in academia and international development across Europe, Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East. Educated in the United Kingdom, he spent more than 17 years in the academic fields of Food, Nutrition and Public Health, as both professor and chair supervising numerous Masters, PhD and postdoctoral students. He has published widely, presented and sat on editorial boards on various international academic journals, establishing new teaching and research institutions, designing curriculum, validating courses, performing quality audits, teaching and research. He has previously worked in global emergency response with various governments, UN agencies and AKDN FOCUS, serving as its Global Coordinator for Research & Learning.
Raikhan Sissekenova has served as UCA’s Government and Public Relations Representative in Kazakhstan since 2009. Prior to that, she was engaged in start-up activities for the University and served as Head of the School of Professional and Continuing Education in Tekeli. Sissekenova brings significant research, programme implementation and legal experience to UCA from various sectors. She provided scientific support to the Kazakh Health of the Nation programme from 1999 to 2001, participated in national social and demographic surveys from 1999 to 2003, and contributed to the development of several legislative bills. Sissekenova is trained as a medical doctor and has a degree in medical sciences, public health and management. She has also studied social management in Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom. Sissekenova has published extensively, including articles in scientific publications and three manuals on public health, legal issues and education.
Dr. Davlatkadam Khushkadamov graduated from the Sadriddin Aini Tajik State Pedagogical University in Dushanbe, with a major in teaching Social Science and History. He holds a Candidate of Sciences in Philosophy. Prior to joining UCA, Dr. Khushkadamov worked as Government Relations Manager with the Aga Khan Development Network, Tajikistan. Previously, he held different positions with the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan and State agencies including; Assistant to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tajikistan; First Deputy Governor of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast; Head of Department of Science with the Ministry of Trade and Economy. He was also Deputy Chief Editor of the Tajik Soviet Encyclopedia. Dr. Khushkadamov has written numerous articles and monographs. He is also a member of the International Union of Journalists and a Peace Ambassador.
Campus Head, SPCE Naryn
Nurbek Nisharapov serves as Campus Head of the School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE) in Naryn. A Naryn native, he graduated from the Toktogul Satylganov School and pursued a Master's in Foreign Languages at Naryn State University. After graduating with honours in 2008, Nisharapov moved to Taiwan to study Applied Linguistics and Academic English at the Yuan Ze University. He joined UCA in 2011 as a Communications Intern. Nishaprapov was later promoted to Assistant Manager of Academic Affairs at SPCE Naryn, where he coordinated the Change the World Around You Social Entrepreneurship project, supported by the Coca-Cola Foundation. He took over as Manager of Academic Affairs in 2013 and was named Head of SPCE Naryn in August 2016.
From 2009-2014, Bakhytzhan Sametayev was the Outreach Coordinator for the School of Professional and Continuing Education, Tekeli. In this capacity, he established strong relations with the Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund in Almaty to support entrepreneurs and businessmen. Prior to joining UCA, he was a civil servant with the Almaty region Finance Department. He also served as Head of of Information Technology and Internal Auditor. He frequently speaks at regional conferences and lectures on topics such as national support for Initial Public Offerings and support for businesses in small towns. Sametayev holds a Bachelor's degree from the Gorno-Altay State University, Russia and is currently completing his Master's degree in Economics at the Moscow Witte University.