History of AAICU
The Association of International Colleges and Universities was founded in 1971 by a group of college and university presidents with a desire to share information in an informal setting, to encourage collaboration and to share resources among schools which share many issues in common.
The first meeting was held in Athens, Greece in April of 1972 at Pierce College, which is now a part of the American College of Greece. Institutions with representatives in attendance included: American University of Beirut (Lebanon), Beirut College for Women (Lebanon), American College of Rome (Italy), Schiller College (Germany), Haigazian College (Lebanon), Institute for American Universities (France), American College in Paris (France), The American College in Cairo (Egypt), and Pierce College (Greece). The association held its second meeting in Aix-en-Provence, France in November of that same year at The Institute for American Studies. A membership directory was completed and the association voted to maintain a schedule of bi-annual meetings.
Thus, during the 1970s, members focused on establishing the association’s infrastructure. They crafted its mission, incorporated, adopted by-laws, and established criteria for full membership.
As the association matured, it stayed true to its mission, creating a rich collaborative environment for members, while slightly modifying its image and schedule. In March 1988, at a meeting in Rome, Italy, it was proposed that the Association should include the term American in its title. Subsequently, by general consent, the Association of International Colleges and Universities (AICU) earned another A and become known as the Association of American International Colleges and Universities (AAICU). By then, the membership had grown to nearly twenty institutions, double what it had been upon founding. In the 1990s, members voted to modify the meeting schedule from bi-annual to annual. The annual meetings are attended by the institutions’ presidents and usually by the chief academic officers. Today the membership includes eighteen full members and eight affiliates.
Throughout its history, AAICU has realized its founders’ intentions, and it continues to do so. The association has established an agreement of reciprocity that facilitates the exchange of students among member institutions. The member institutions have created a Mediterranean Studies major which students can complete at a variety of schools within the organization. AAICU has raised awareness for the quality of American Institutions abroad, through its website, many publications, and a relationship with the US Department of Education. Further, the association continues to serve as a valuable platform for information sharing among institutions with many similar characteristics. In recent years, it established associate member and observer categories in order to extend this tradition of collaboration to a broader cohort. As part of several amendments to the bylaws in 2007, the latter categories were merged into a single affiliate description.
For more information about AAICU’s history, the Association’s archives are maintained by the archivist at The American College of Greece in Athens, Greece.