Trustees

Overview

RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) Mission and Vision statement was adopted by the AUKF Board of Trustees on May 12, 2017.

  • Goal One: Academic Excellence- Achieve recognized academic excellence through an ever-changing teaching and learning environment that best prepares students for the global workforce.
  • Goal Two: Research and Innovation – Collaborate to promote excellence in research that supports undergraduate education and innovation with results connected to Kosovo, the region, and/or the global community.
  • Goal Three: Resource Management-– Maximize the use of human, technological and fiscal resources for financial sustainability.
  • Goal Four: Strategic Enrollment Management - Support a diverse and financially sustainable student body from recruitment to completion to employment.

Vision

RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) will be a leading international university whose excellence in academic programs, educational outcomes, and research best supports the professional achievements and personal growth of its students and the advancement of society in Kosovo, the region, and the world.

Mission

RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) will deliver an outstanding American education for students from Kosovo and the world through innovative curricular, experiential, and research programs in a student-centered culture.  Our students acquire expertise, knowledge, and values that prepare them to contribute to the global society.

Principles

RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) is a learning community of faculty, staff and students who are committed to core values of scholarship, integrity, service, and civility.

We will foster rigorous intellectual exploration, personal growth, and vigorous debate. We are committed to diversity and the promotion of understanding and mutual respect, in an environment that welcomes people of all nationalities and communities.

We will offer academic programs that are appropriate for the region’s development, that are financially self-sustaining, and that place academic integrity ahead of financial or political influences.

In all that we teach, we seek to develop critical thinking, entrepreneurship, and technological sophistication as critical to the development of the region and its integration into Europe.

We will recruit, develop and support excellent faculty, who are encouraged to conduct scholarship and service as well as teach. Our faculty and staff will be an important resource for the development of the region.

We consider the success of our students to be the primary standard for measuring the success of our faculty and staff.

Programs

The RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) was founded to support Kosovo and its neighboring countries to develop their economies, societies and democratic institutions, by providing undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs in the English language.

RIT Kosovo (A.U.K)’s core program is its undergraduate degree program. This will provide an excellent, career-oriented, American liberal arts education which will prepare its graduates to be leaders in their professions and communities, and to be global citizens.

RIT Kosovo (A.U.K) will deliver graduate degree programs, and continuing and professional education and training programs, that are needed for the region’s development and that are appropriately delivered in English by an American institution.

Trustees

The RIT Board of Trustees consists of 47 active trustees (including the President of the University and representatives of the RIT Alumni Association, the Women’s Council of RIT, and the National Advisory Group of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf) and 32 trustees of emeritus status. Currently, the total number of active and emeriti trustees is 79.

Board Members

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Nancy Y. Bekavac, Chair
Nancy Y. Bekavac is a consultant in higher education. From 1990 until her retirement in 2007, she served as president of Scripps College in Claremont, California. From 1988 to 1990, Ms. Bekavac was Counselor to the President of Dartmouth College. From 1985 to 1988, she was the Executive Director of the Thomas J. Watson Foundation, which provides foreign travel and research fellowships to graduates of select liberal arts colleges in the United States. From 1974 to 1988, she practiced commercial litigation and was a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson.  She has served on the Board of Managers of her alma mater, Swarthmore College, and currently serves as a Director of The Seaver Institute, a philanthropic foundation in Los Angeles, California.  She is a director of Electro Rent Corporation and First Marblehead Corporation.  She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  Ms. Bekavac is a graduate of Swarthmore College and holds a J.D. from Yale Law School.

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Louis D. Sell
Louis Sell a retired Foreign Service Officer, worked for six years at the US Embassy in Moscow and eight years in various places in Yugoslavia.  He served as US representative to the Joint Consultative Group in Vienna, as Director of the Office of Russian and Eurasian Analysis, Director of the Office of US-Soviet Bilateral Relations, and as Special Assistant and Executive Secretary of the US delegation to the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks.  From 1995 - 1996 he was political adviser to Carl Bildt, the first High Representative for Bosnian Peace Implementation.  In that capacity he attended the Dayton Peace Conference and participated in the first year of implementation of the Dayton accords.  In 2000 he served as Kosovo Director of the International Crisis Group. He speaks Serbo-Croatian, Russian,and French.  Serving as Executive Director of the American University in Kosovo Foundation (AUKF) from 2003 to 2007, Louis Sell helped found the American University in Kosovo, which opened its doors in October 2003. He has a B. A. from Franklin and Marshall College (1969) and an M. A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.  Mr. Sell's second book, From Washington to Moscow: US-Soviet Relations and the Collapse of the USSR, was published by Duke University Press in August, 2016. His political biography of Slobodan Milosevic, Slobodan Milosevic and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, was published in 2002.  He is an adjunct professor at the University of Maine at Farmington and lives with his family in a 200-year-old farm house in Whitefield, Maine, where he also serves as a member of the volunteer fire department. 

 

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Edmond Coku
Edmond Coku is the founder of Sabius Capital, a private investment firm.  Prior to founding Sabius, Edmond spent five years at Lehman Brothers, in Investment Banking, Corporate Strategy and Principal Investments. He started his career at Gabelli Asset Management (GAMCO) as a Portfolio Administrator, Assistant Trader and Institutional Salesperson. Edmond is a member of the President’s Advisory Council of Manhattanville College. He is a co-founder and Board member of APEN, a NYC-based non-profit. He graduated magna cum laude from Manhattanville College and holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Jim Myers

James Myers 
James Myers is the Associate Provost of International Education and Global Programs at Rochester Institute of Technology. He previously served as the Director for the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies where he helped establish RIT Kosovo and created numerous corporate and government sponsored outreach education programs. He was also previously the Associate Dean and Associate Professor at RIT Croatia, in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Bersant Disha

Bersant Disha
Bersant Disha holds an MSc in Finance from the University of Warwick and BSc in Business from the London School of Economics and is also a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) certified by ICMCI. Bersant has worked for over fifteen years in management and financial consultancy as well as capacity building and training for various clients including international and Kosovan private corporations and companies, the national and local government and non-governmental organizations. His current areas of practice include corporate finance advisory services to some of the largest Kosovan and international companies as well as institutional investors operating in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia; Public finance at the central and local level advising the Ministry of Finance and municipalities. Over the years, he has been very active in facilitating investments in Kosovo having supported numerous investment transactions. Bersant currently serves in the position of Executive Director and Senior Consultant at RECURA Financials.

Jehona Gjurgjeala

Jehona Gjurgjeala
Jehona Gjurgjeala has extensive experience in strategy development, management and execution in both profit and non-profit enterprises. Jehona completed both her BSc and MSc at the London School of Economics and Political Science, the latter as the recipient of the prestigious British Council Chevening Scholarship. Her last employment before returning to Kosovo was as Director of Product Marketing at Egencia (an Expedia Inc Company), where she led many large-scale commercial projects of high impact for the business globally. As Executive Director of Oxford Leadership Academy (OLA), Jehona was responsible for growing the consultancy and its network, including opening the Oxford office. Jehona also has extensive experience in the non-profit sector, in both research and grassroots projects, including collaborating with the Girls Scouts USA in developing a leadership programme for young adults. Jehona’s research formed part of several papers published by the International Crisis Group, Kosova. She is also the author “How do women vote?” – a study of political awareness and participation of women in Kosova. After nearly 15 years of studying and working in the UK and Denmark, Jehona returned to her native Kosovo to start up TOKA – an organisation that aims to improve Kosovar society by investing in the education of its youth. Since 2015, TOKA has grown to a team of over 20 staff and over 6,000 youth alumni

Ardi Shita

Ardi Shita
Ardi Shita is the Managing Partner and Founder of Shita and Associates LLC. He is also an attorney-at-law, specializing in commercial and corporate law. He is graduate of Karl Franzens University in Austria, University of Ljubljana in Slovenia and the South East European University in Macedonia. His prime areas of practice are commercial law, energy law, banking, insurance, commercial transactions, construction and environmental law, judicial review, criminal law, arbitration and economic crimes. Mr. Shita mainly handles matters before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, the Commercial Department of Pristina Court and Arbitration Tribunals. Mr. Shita is a legal exert of USAID contract law Enforcement (CLE) and has been leading the efforts to draft the new Bankruptcy Law of Kosovo, Law on Business Organizations and a number of Central Bank Regulations.  He has serves as director/trustee in various organizations and companies including, for example, the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo, the Rochester Institute of Technology in Kosovo (RIT Kosovo A.U.K.), KEP Trust (Kosovo Enterprise Program, the largest non-bank financial institution) and the Kosovo CSR Network. Prior to his work as an attorney, Mr. Shita was engaged directly in numerous projects with international and local companies and institutions, including Corporate Governance Consultant for the World Bank, Senior Legal Expert for European Union project in Kosovo, Senior Legal Specialist for USAID projects in Kosovo and Senior Legal Consultant for foreign governments and companies. Mr. Shita is an adjunct lecturer of commercial and corporate law, teaching in a variety of universities.

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Jill Adler
Jill Adler is the founding Director of the East-West Parliamentary Practice Project (EWPPP), which was established in 1990 as a joint initiative of the European Cultural Foundation(ECF) in The Netherlands and the Ford Foundation (USA), in cooperation with a consortium of U.S. and European funders. The EWPPP, an independent non-profit organization headquartered in Amsterdam, develops and implements capacity building programs for parliaments and civil society organizations in the emerging democracies of Eastern/Southeastern Europe and Eurasia.  Prior to 1990, she served as a Program Officer in charge of initiating cooperative ventures with Eastern Europe and the (then) Soviet Union in the cultural and educational fields. In 1996, she was awarded the Hungarian Cross of Honor by the President of the Republic of Hungary for contributing to the democratization of parliaments in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2008, she was awarded the Albanian Medal of Appreciation by the President of the Republic of Albania for contributing to the democratization of the Albanian Parliament.  She is an adjunct professor at Webster University in Leiden, the Netherlands, and The University of Utrecht, the Netherlands.  She currently serves on several boards, including:  the Board of Directors of the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF); the Executive Committee/Board of the Netherlands-America Fulbright Center; Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Institute for Development Policy (INDEP)(Kosovo); and most recently, the Board of Trustees of RIT Kosovo (A.U.K.) (American University Kosovo).  Ms. Adler received a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.

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Richard Berman
Richard Berman is the Associate Vice President for Strategic Initiatives for Innovation and Research at the University of South Florida, visiting social entrepreneurship professor in the Muma College of Business, and a professor in the institute for Advanced Discovery & Innovation. He is currently an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences (Formerly known as the Institute of Medicine) in Washington, DC, and is a board member for Emblem Health. He is a member of the Seeds of Peace Board of Directors, a board member for the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development in Abuja, Nigeria and CATAYS, Inc. Additionally, he is the vice-chair of the board of directors for OIC in Florida. Previous organizations in which he has served on the board of directors include the Lillian Vernon Corporation, the Westchester Jewish Chronicle (Chairman of the Advisory Board), the American Jewish Committee (Westchester Chapter), and the March of Dimes. Previously, Richard has worked as a management consultant for McKinsey & Company, the Executive Vice President of NYU Medical Center and Professor of Health Care Management at the NYU School of Medicine. He served as the Special Advisor to the leader of the African Union-United Nations Peace Keeping Mission in Darfur. He has also held various roles at Korn Ferry International, Howe-Lewis International, served in 2 cabinet positions in New York State Government, and the US Department of Health Education and Welfare. In 1995, Mr. Berman was selected by Manhattanville College to serve as its tenth President. Mr. Berman is credited with the turnaround of the College, where he served until 2009. Mr. Berman received his BBA, MBA, and MPH from the University of Michigan and holds honorary doctorates from Manhattanville College and New York Medical College.

Ardian Hasanaj board

Ardian Hasanaj
Ardian Hasanaj earned his MBA in 2018 from the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School, Baltimore, Maryland. He was Head of Mission/Managing Director of Caritas Luxembourg in Kosovo from 2012 to 2016, managing programs in the field of entrepreneurship, health, and education. Prior to joining Caritas Luxembourg, he was an entrepreneur and a management consultant for a range of organizations and programs in Kosovo, including the World Bank, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)/Education Development Center, Inc., and Booz Allen Hamilton. Ardian graduated magna cum laude from Rochester Institute of Technology. He currently resides near Washington, D.C.

Sahatciu board

Donjeta Sahatciu
Donjeta Sahatciu leads a team of 25 design and IT professionals at Rrota, a well-established digital communications agency in Pristina, and is the youngest female entrepreneur in the ICT sector in Kosovo. She's currently contributing to the missions of both Kosovo ICT Association and VentureUP as Board(s) Chair. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Management from Rochester Institute of Technology, and is currently pursuing executive MBA in the University of Sheffield. After working as a Product Manager at IPKO Telecommunications for two years, she joined Rrota as a project manager in 2011, to later become the Executive Director in 2014 and Partner in late 2015. Donjeta is an enthusiast of getting things done, and is recognized for her analytical approach. She has hands-on experience in project management and business development. Rrota has helped her improve soft-skills, grow professionally, and implement organizational change by motivating millennials daily. As an active citizen, Donjeta aims to maximize use of her energy and passion for communications and technology to help make a change in the community.

Aferdita Ademi

Aferdita Ademi Osmani
Aferdita Ademi Osmani is a Medical Doctor and Senior Public Health (PH) Expert with more than 20 years of experience as Manager & Project Coordinator of complex international health programs and projects and working experience in Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia & Switzerland. She has very good skills in facilitating health policy elaboration, implementation, monitoring and evaluation as well as ensuring active and inclusive multi-stakeholder participation and coordination (she provides technical assistance and worked with a number of Ministers of Health). She resides in Prishtina, Kosovo with her husband and her daughter. 

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Christopher D. Thompson
Christopher D. Thompson is a team leader, strategist, and facilitator of rule of reforms in transitional economies. An attorney admitted to practice in Virginia and Washington DC, for over 20 years he has advised governments and local counterparts on commercial law, access to justice, and private sector development. Chris currently serves as Chief of Party to the USAID-funded Commercial Justice Activity in Kosovo, which supports reforms in commercial dispute resolution, judgment enforcement, and commercial legislation in order to enhance Kosovo’s investment environment. He has served as a consultant for similar reform initiatives across Eastern Europe, Asia, and North Africa. Chris holds a J.D. from the George Mason University School of Law and a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Utah. He has served as a member of the Board of Directors in the American Chambers of Commerce in Bulgaria and in Kosovo. He also served as a member the Fulbright Bulgarian American Commission in Sofia, Bulgaria, and as its Chairman in 2008.

Yll Zagragja

Yll Zagragja 
Yll Zagragja is an AUK/RIT graduate and holds multiple professional certifications in accounting and finance from educational institutions such as Baruch College in New York, University of California in Los Angeles, and KAF Institute in Kosovo.
Yll is principal of Zagragja&Associates a leading company in accounting and finance industry in Kosovo, serving local and international clients over the last 15 years. Yll is also principal of UCX Kosovo, a leading company in software development industry, providing very advanced technological solutions to clients throughout the world. Both companies employ 100+ young professionals in their respective fields. Yll is very passionate about the potential of young Kosovars and has committed time and resources over the past couple of years in exploring and promoting these potentials.

Elvin Guri

Elvin Guri
Elvin Guri is an entrepreneur and investor. Currently CEO of Empower Capital Advisors, manager of Empower Capital Fund I, a Jeremie-supported fund investing in Bulgarian lower and mid-market industrial companies. Previously with PwC and EBRD, in 2001-2002 he co-founded JetFinance International, that became the largest consumer finance lender in South East Europe (sold to BNP Paribas Personal Finance in 2007). Among his other recent investments is Telekom Albania, the second largest mobile operator in that country. Mr. Guri has an MBA from the University of Oxford Said Business School. He also supports various educational institutions and initiatives in Bulgaria and Albania.

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Michael E. Hess
Michael E. Hess has been a principal at M&TCH Consulting since Jan 2012, after working at L-3 MPRI from August 2009. Before joining MPRI, he served as Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Democracy Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Mike was in that position from June 2005 until January 2009. Mike had over 30 years of active and reserve service in the U. S. Military serving in humanitarian operations in Turkey, Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo. He served in both command and staff assignments in the U.S. and Germany and taught European History at the United States Military Academy (USMA). He was also a banker a Swiss Bank Corp and Citicorp for over fifteen years.
Mike has a bachelor's degree from the USMA at West Point, master's degrees from Columbia University, and New York University, and is a graduate of the National Strategic Studies Program at the United States Army War College.

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Heini Conrad
Heini Conrad is an expert with long-time experience in variousfields of International Development Cooperation. He has become a specialist in market-led approaches to generate employment and income with a special focus on the youth. Heini has worked for several Swiss NGO’s in various positions and different countries. As a seasoned manager he likes to work with international teams and develop strategic approaches to achieve the set goals. He has a broad work background in Fair Trade (FT); where he was active part in introducing and promoting FT labelled products in Switzerland. He was as well involved in the establishment of the respective International networks. Undisputed highlight of his long career were the almost 7 years when he lived and worked in Kosovo managing for Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation several projects. After retirement he and his wife organized socio-cultural study trips to the West Balkan. They maintain many good contacts and friendships in Kosovo which has become a second home to them.

Honorary Board Members

William G. Walker

Ambassador William G. Walker, Honorary Chairman Emeritus
William G. Walker, Senior Former Chief of the OSCE Mission to Kosovo, former US Ambassador to El Salvador

Ferid Murad

Ferid Murad M.D., Ph.D., Honorary Board Member
Ferid Murad M.D., Ph.D., recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology and world renowned pioneer in biochemistry, joined the George Washington University (“GWU”) faculty in April 2011 as a University Professor and Director of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Signaling. Dr. Murad teaches an undergraduate course, mentors graduate and medical students, and leads a laboratory in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at GWU. After completion of his bachelor’s degree in Premedical science and Chemistry at DePauw University, Dr. Murad studied in one of the first physician-scientist training programs, earning his M.D./Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University in 1965. He completed an Internal Medicine residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and continued his training in a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Murad’s long career as a physician-scientist has included becoming faculty at the University of Virginia (1970-1981) as the Director of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology with Medicine and Pharmacology appointments; Chief of Medicine at the Palo Alto Veterans Hospital (1981-1988); Chairman of Medicine at Stanford University (1986-1988); and Vice President of Research and Development at Abbott Laboratories (1988-1993). Dr. Murad was Chairman of the Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology at the Medical School of the University of Texas Houston Health Science Center (1997-2005), as well as Director (1999-2007) and Director Emeritus (2007-2010) of the Institute of Molecular Medicine, prior to joining GWU in 2011. He has advised approximately 140 trainees in his laboratories, and founded or advised many biotechnology companies over the years. In 1998, Dr. Murad and two other scientists, Drs. Ignarro and Furchgott, received the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for their discovery of the role of Nitric Oxide in the body as a key signaling molecule increasing cyclic GMP and dilating blood vessels. This work has immensely impacted medicine, patient care, and drug development, drastically improving our understanding of the body and the function of certain drugs such as nitroglycerin. As recipient of the Lasker Basic Medical Research Award; American Heart Association Ciba Award; Association of American Medical Colleges Baxter Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences; American Society of Clinical Pharmacology Distinguished Research Prize; and President's Scholar Award from the UT - Houston Health Science Center, Dr. Murad has earned innumerable honors and distinctions for his work. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and many foreign academies, as well as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Murad has received 13 honorary degrees, and has more than 400 publications - a number that is still growing.

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Søren Jessen-Petersen, Honorary Board Member
Søren Jessen-Petersen was the fifth of the six Special Representatives for Kosovo of the United Nations Secretary General (SRSG), during the nine years of UNMIK's administration of the country. More perhaps than any other SRSG, Søren Jessen-Petersen is widely respected and admired in Kosovo for his two years of service from 2004 to 2006 and is known as a true friend of this country.

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Ronald Cami, Honorary Board Member
Ronald Cami is the General Council and member of the Board of Waypoint Capital.  From 2016 to May 2018, Ron was  a partner at the law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, in Davis Polk’s corporate department in Northern California and New York.  From 2010 through 2015, Ron was a partner and the General Counsel of TPG Global.  From 1994 through 2010, Ron was a partner at the law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Prior to that, Ron served as law clerk to the Honorable Kevin Thomas Duffy of the Southern District of New York, during which time Judge Duffy presided over the first World Trade Center bombing criminal case.  Ron graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and earned his J.D., summa cum laude with order of the coif distinction, from Rutgers Law School.

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Rezart Spahia, Honorary Board Member
Rezart Spahia is the founding and managing partner of Frost & Fire Consulting, a leading legal and business consultancy firm in Tirana, Albania.  A New York lawyer and member of the New York City Bar Association, prior to founding Frost & Fire Consulting, Rezart worked for almost a decade at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, in its New York and London offices.  Before becoming a lawyer, Rezart was an archaeologist with the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences in Tirana, Albania as well as a visiting scholar and research associate at the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University, while also being part of their Ph.D. program. Rezart graduated as class valedictorian with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Geography from the University of Tirana, being awarded a Gold Medal from the Albanian Ministry of Education. He also earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College and a Master of Laws degree from the New York University School of Law with several distinctions. In addition to his contribution to RIT Kosovo (A.U.K. Foundation), to which Rezart has offered legal services pro bono since inception, Rezart has been involved with various not for profit initiatives including as board member and Vice-Chairman of the National Albanian American Council and currently as trustee of the Ivanaj Foundations and vice-president of the Albanian Karate Federation.