IIAF Panel Members - American University in Ras Al Khaimah

Provost & Senior VP

Professor Stephen Wilhite

Prof. Stephen Wilhite assumed the position of Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) in August 2017.  Previously, he served as Dean, Provost, and Interim President at Widener University in the USA, where he also held the rank of Professor of Psychology.  Dr. Wilhite has led strategic planning processes focused on the use of high-impact educational practices to encourage student engagement with their subject matter both inside and outside the classroom.  He has also led efforts to reform faculty evaluation in ways that encourage faculty to become reflective teachers.  While at Widener, Dr. Wilhite served as a peer evaluator and institutional liaison for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, one of the U.S. regional accrediting associations.  He also served on numerous accreditation site visit teams for the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) and later served a term as a CAPTE Commissioner.  At AURAK, Dr. Wilhite played a key leadership role in the university’s successful application for initial accreditation and re-affirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).  Dr. Wilhite also co-led AURAK’s successful application in 2021-2022 for accreditation by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for Higher Education, the accrediting body for higher education institutions in the U.K.  Dr. Wilhite serves as an External Review Team member for the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) of the UAE Ministry of Education.  Dr. Wilhite completed a B.S. in Psychology from Emory University, and he earned a D.Phil. in human experimental psychology from the University of Oxford.  His research interests in applied cognitive psychology have in recent years been focused on the assessment and development of emotional competence in college students. 

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Associate Provost

Dr. Kevin Konecny

Dr. Kevin S. Konecny serves as the Associate Provost for Student Affairs at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK). Dr. Konecny has 32 years of higher education experience in the United States and abroad, including Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, China, Guam, and the United Kingdom. Most of that experience has been in student affairs administration, including leadership of residence life, student activities, student clubs and organization, student government, orientation programs, student publications, student leadership development initiatives, study abroad, international student programs, recruitment, academic integrity, and conflict resolution.  

In the U.S., Dr. Konecny held leadership positions at the University of Central Florida, the University of Michigan, Bowling Green State University, and Seminole State College of Florida. His experience in the Arabian Gulf includes serving as the founding Director of Campus and Residence Life with the Qatar Foundation in Education City, Doha, Qatar. Education City is home to six U.S. branch campus institutions (Georgetown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Virginia Commonwealth University, Cornell University, Northwestern University and Texas A&M University), and Dr. Konecny was responsible for the campus residential master planning process in collaboration with university partners in Education City. In addition, Dr. Konecny served in leadership roles, at the executive level, in China, Saudi Arabia and in Kuwait.

Dr. Konecny earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at the University of Maine at Farmington and a Master of Science in Education degree in Counseling Psychology from Saint Bonaventure University (New York) and earned his doctorate in Organizational Leadership & Higher Education Administration at the University of the Potomac (Washington, D.C.). In addition, Dr. Konecny earned a certificate from the Institute for Leading Internationalization through the Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement of the American Council on Education (ACE).

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Dean, School of Arts & Sciences

Professor Hariclea Zengos

Professor Hariclea Zengos currently serves as Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Quality Enhancement Plan coordinator at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah. Prior to AURAK, she served as senior associate dean for academic affairs and professor-in-residence of English and American Studies at Northwestern University in Qatar (2017-2021). For over two decades (1989-2017) she was professor of English at the American College of Greece, where she also held several administrative positions including associate dean for academic affairs in the Office of the Provost; associate dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the director of the English Language Program; and department chair for English and Modern Languages. Prof. Zengos holds a PhD in English from Tufts University, an MA in English from Clark University, and an MEd in higher education administration from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education and a BA in English from the American College of Greece.

Chief Strategy & Excellence Officer

Ms. Amanda Forte

With a distinguished career in academic strategy and accreditation, Amanda Forte currently serves as the Chief Strategy and Excellence Officer at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah. Her extensive experience in accreditation has seen her successfully spearheading initiatives at two UAE universities, ensuring they attain and uphold national and international licensure, including the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in the United States and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) in the United Kingdom. Under Amanda’s leadership, the Commission for Academic Accreditation (CAA) has accredited numerous bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees.

Prior to commencing her career in the UAE, Amanda dedicated more than a decade to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA). Specializing primarily in vocational education, she initially served as an awarding body representative, overseeing the successful design and execution of school-based qualifications and national examinations, as well as Higher National Certificates (HNCs), Higher National Diplomas (HNDs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) across multiple subjects. Amanda progressed to an Accreditation Advisor position, advising on the development of occupational standards to underpin vocational qualifications across a portfolio of industry sectors.

Throughout her career, Amanda has been an integral member of multiple steering groups within the Skills for Business Network. Her involvement has been pivotal in shaping occupational standards and vocational qualifications for several key UK industries. She also took the lead in the implementation of two industry licensure systems and played a central role in the integration of Microsoft and Cisco Certifications into SQA qualifications.

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Manager of Student Life Department

Ms. Karla Ann Marie Fraser

Ms. Karla Fraser serves at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK), in the Office of Student Affairs, as the Manager of the Student Life Department.  Ms. Fraser is a twenty-year veteran of Student Affairs administration, a thought leader, and has experience in the United States and several other countries. Her Student Affairs administration portfolio has included student housing, student conduct, student services, student activities, and international student exchange programs, in addition to student orientation and career services. In all her roles, she has strived to ensure the operations, administration, and experiences of students meet the accreditation standards of the institutions with which she is affiliated.

Highlights of her other international experiences include Singapore, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Niger, and the Commonwealth of Dominica. Her U.S. institutional experiences include Indiana University, Washington State University, North Carolina State University, and Peru State College (Nebraska). She is an author of articles on trending matters in higher education, such as study abroad, UN Sustainable Goal #4, supporting refugee students, and general student support operations. Ms. Fraser earned a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science from the University of North Dakota and a master’s degree in International Affairs and Latin American Studies from Ohio University.