Board of Trustees

The University of Central Asia is governed by the Board of Trustees, appointed by the Chancellor and Patrons of the University. The Trustees bring a wealth of expertise and experience, and include prominent individuals with distinguished backgrounds in academia, government, development, and civil society.


Inaugural Session of UCA’s Board of Trustees (6 November 2017). Front Row (L to R): Mrs. Elvira Sarieva, Prince Rahim Aga Khan, His Highness the Aga Khan, Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Senator Byrganym Aitimova. Back Row (L to R): Mr. Naguib Kheraj, Dr. Hans Hurni, Dr. Shenggen Fan, Dr. Sharofat Mamadambarova.


Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha
Chairman, UCA Board of Trustees
Diplomatic Representative of the Aga Khan Development Network in the Kyrgyz Republic

Dr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is the Chairman of the Board 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, 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.


Princess Zahra Aga Khan
Member, Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Development Network

Princess Zahra Aga Khan is a Member of the Board of Directors of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). She has policy and management responsibility for the Health, Education, and Planning and Building Services Companies of the AKDN and their institutions, working in more than a dozen countries in the Developing World. She is also involved at the strategic level with other agencies of the AKDN, working in the areas of social and economic development.

Princess Zahra is a Trustee of the Aga Khan University, and sits on the Boards of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance and of the Global Centre for Pluralism.

Princess Zahra attended Le Rosey School in Switzerland and received her undergraduate degree cum laude in Development Studies from Harvard University (AB’94). She also completed a four-month programme at Massachusetts General Hospital to enhance her understanding of healthcare systems and the delivery of advanced medical care, and an Executive Finance course at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne.


Prince Rahim Aga Khan
Chair, Executive Committee of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance

Prince Rahim is the second of His Highness the Aga Khan’s four children. Based in Geneva, he is Chair of the Executive Committee of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance and is a member of the Board of the Fondation de Chantilly in France.

A graduate of Brown University, Rhode Island, USA with a Bachelor’s Degree in Comparative Literature awarded in 1996, Prince Rahim received his secondary education at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. After spending some time in the construction sector, in 2006 Prince Rahim completed an executive development programme in management and administration, at the University of Navarra IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain, before joining the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

Prince Rahim travels regularly to Asia and Africa to oversee microfinance programmes and other projects of the AKDN.


Senator Byrganym Aitimova
Member of the Kazakh Senate

Senator Byrganym Aitimova has been a member of the Kazakh Senate since 2013, prior to which she was Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations for 6 years. From 2004 until 2007, Senator Aitimova served as Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan. She has also served as Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan to Israel and Italy.

Senator Aitimova holds a Law degree from the Ural State Pedagogical Institute and a degree in Education from the Kazakh State University. She received a degree in Political Science and Management from the Almaty Institute of Political Science and Management in 1997.

Senator Aitimova was born in Zelenovskiy Rayon, West Kazakhstan Oblast and speaks fluent Kazakh, Russian and English. She is married with two children.


Dr Shenggen Fan
Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute

Dr Shenggen Fan has been director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) since 2009.

Dr Fan joined IFPRI in 1995 as a research fellow, conducting extensive research on pro-poor development strategies in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. He led IFPRI’s programme on public investment before becoming the director of the Institute’s Development Strategy and Governance Division in 2005.

He is one of the Champions of Target 12.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, dedicated to inspiring ambition, mobilizing action, and accelerating progress toward cutting global food loss and waste. He serves as a member of the Lead Group for the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. Dr Fan also serves as advisor to many national governments (including China and Vietnam) on agriculture, food security and nutrition.

In 2014, Dr Fan received the Hunger Hero Award from the World Food Programme in recognition of his commitment to, and leadership in fighting hunger worldwide. Dr Fan received a PhD in applied economics from the University of Minnesota and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Nanjing Agricultural University in China.


Professor Hans Hurni
Founding President, Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern

Professor Hans Hurni is Founding President of the Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern. His areas of professional focus include: natural resource management; sustainable development appraisal; soil erosion process assessments; soil and water conservation experimentation; and nature conservation.

Professor Hurni served as Co-Director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research North-South from 2001 to 2013 during which he engaged in research partnerships for mitigating syndromes of global change. He was a member of the Swiss delegation to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, “Rio+20” in 2012. Since 2011, Professor Hurni has led the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in supporting Water and Land Resource Centres in the Horn of Africa and East Africa.

He is the lead author of Global Chapter 1 of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (2005–2008); has been Editor-in-Chief of Mountain Research and Development since 2012; and is Associate Chief Editor, International Soil and Water Conservation Research.

Professor Hurni is a member of UCA’s Mountain Societies Research Institute Thinking Group, which provides support and oversight to the Institute.


Mr Naguib Kheraj
Senior Advisor to the Aga Khan Development Network

Mr Naguib Kheraj is currently a Senior Advisor to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Mr Kheraj serves as a member of the Board Executive Committee of the University of Central Asia, member of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University, and member of the Executive Committee of the Aga Khan Museum. He is also Chairman of the Endowment Committee of AKDN and a member of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Ismaili Studies.

Mr Kheraj’s professional career has been in banking. He currently serves as Deputy Chairman of Standard Chartered PLC and Chairman of its Board Audit Committee. Mr Kheraj was formerly a Director and Member of the Group Executive Committee of Barclays PLC, where he served in a number of senior roles, including Vice Chairman, Group Finance Director and various business line management positions in Wealth Management, Institutional Asset Management and Investment Banking. Mr Kheraj was Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Cazenove and held senior positions at Robert Fleming and at Salomon Brothers where he started his banking career in 1986.

He is also a Non-Executive Director of Rothesay Life Plc and a member of the Investment Committee of the Wellcome Trust. Mr Kheraj has previously served as a Non-Executive Director of National Health Service England, which is responsible for commissioning most of the healthcare spending by the public sector in England, and as a member of the UK-US Fulbright Commission.

Mr Kheraj has also served as a Senior Adviser to Her Majesty’s Customs and Revenue Service and to the Financial Services Authority in the UK and as a Member of the Development Board of the Prince’s Trust.


Dr Sharofat Mamadambarova
Former Vice Rector of International Relations, Khorog State University

Dr Sharofat Mamadambarova has been affiliated with the Aga Khan Humanities Project (AKHP) at the University of Central Asia (UCA) since 1998 in curriculum development and assessment, and as a Master Trainer at Khorog State University (KSU). Her career with KSU began in 1992 during which period she served as Head of the Department of Foreign Languages, Dean of Humanities and finally as Vice Rector of International Relationships.

Prior to joining KSU, Dr Mamadambarova spent 16 years with the Foreign Languages Faculty at the Dushanbe Pedagogical University. She joined as an Assistant Professor of English in 1976 graduating to hold key university administrative leadership roles first as the Vice Dean of the Foreign Languages Faculty and subsequently as Head of the Department.

Dr Mamadambarova has consulted with the Christensen Fund on various research projects and has participated in numerous exchanges and trainings on pedagogy and assessment in the USA.

She received her PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1990.

Dr Mamadambarova is currently on sabbatical from UCA.


Mrs Elvira Sarieva
Former Deputy Head of the President’s Apparatus of the Kyrgyz Republic
Former Minister of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic

Mrs Elvira Sarieva is the Former Deputy Head of the President’s Apparatus of the Kyrgyz Republic, prior to which she was Head of the Social Policy Department of the President’s Apparatus. Mrs Sarieva served as Minister of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic from 2014 to 2016.

In addition to serving in senior government roles, Mrs Sarieva has also had a successful career in media, working first as Editor and Deputy Director of the Internews Network Representation in the Kyrgyz Republic, followed by a role as Executive Director of Internews. From 2010 to 2012, Mrs Sarieva served as Chair of the Steering Council of the Kyrgyz Public TV and Radio Corporation (KTRK).

She has also been a member on various Boards and councils including: Supervisory Board of the Center for Media Support; Central Europe Review Council; Supervisory Board of the Institute of Media Representatives; and Public Chamber on Media issues.

Mrs Sarieva graduated with honors from the faculty of German Philology, Bishkek Humanitarian University in 1998. She holds a degree from the British School of Broadcasters of the British Broadcasting Corporation, and a master’s degree in business administration from the Academy of Management under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Mrs Sarieva was born in Issyk-Kul Oblast, Kyrgyz Republic and speaks fluent Kyrgyz, Russian and English. She is married with three children.


Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi
UCA Rector

Prof. Dr. S. Sohail H. Naqvi is the Rector of the University of Central Asia. Prior to joining UCA in August 2018, Dr. Naqvi served as Vice Chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences for five years where he had spearheaded the transition of this prestigious, primarily undergraduate, institution into the top ranked research universities of the country. The QS Asian University Ranking of LUMS increased from 191-200 range in 2014 to 103 in 2018. The student body at LUMS during this period increased by 30% with a decrease in student – teacher ratio and significant increase in quality of intake. He led the establishment of the LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship that has become the premier hub of innovation in the country following the establishment of the National Incubation Center (Lahore) there. Introduction of a formalised quality assurance system across the university across all disciplines, accreditation of programmes and rigorous implementation of the tenure track system of appointment brought a paradigm shift in the quality of education and research at the university.

Prior to LUMS, he was the Executive Director of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) for eight years. He oversaw the implementation of an ambitious portfolio of programmes which resulted in significant growth of research in Pakistan’s universities, the quadrupling of student enrollment, standardisation of programmes at the undergraduate and postgraduate level with clear quality related benchmarks along with the implementation of a comprehensive higher education quality assurance regime. He has extensive teaching, research and entrepreneurial experience both in the US and Pakistan, and has also been a consultant on higher education for the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank. He was awarded Order of the ‘Palmes Académiques’ with rank of Chevalier, by the French Government, and the Sitar-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan for his services to higher education.

Dr. Naqvi earned his BSc (with highest distinction), MSc and PhD degrees (all in Electrical Engineering) from Purdue University, USA. He served as an Assistant and Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, USA, before returning to Pakistan in 1995 to join the Faculty of Electronics at the GIK Institute of Technology. Dr. Naqvi also has a number of patents to his credit and co-developed scatterometry as a metrology technique and process sensor for micro-electronic and opto-electronic fabrication.


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