Shamsh Kassim-Lakha

Shamsh Kassim-Lakha

Distinguished Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Dr. Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is currently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Central Asia (UCA). He has been associated with this institution since 1996, in leading the conceptualization of UCA and later assisting in negotiating the International Treaty that led to UCA’s  establishment by the governments of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, and His Highness the Aga Khan. In 2014, he assumed prime management responsibility for building and operating UCA’s residential campuses and its academic programs in the three founding States. He is also the 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 government of Pakistan, including as Minister of Education and  Minister of Science and Technology. Earlier, as Minister of State, he also led a 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 has written and published on higher education, philanthropy, civil society and management in renowned journals, including the Lancet and Nature. 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, U.S.A.

In recognition of his academic, social, and development work, Dr. Kassim-Lakha has received honorary degrees from McMaster University in  Canada, and the Aga Khan University in Pakistan. 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.

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