Most important, Hall and many students say, AUK offers Kosovar youths a school where they encounter Western-style debates, interaction, and educational standards.
Student Tefta Kelmendi first considered going abroad for college, since there were "many other possibilities offered to Kosovar students for study abroad and scholarships," she says. But AUK allowed her to "be part of all these significant changes that are taking place" in Kosovo, so she stayed.
The college opened in 2003 in a crowded house with few facilities. But two years ago, AUK moved to a small complex in a hilly suburb, with lecture halls, information-technology facilities, and a cafeteria-cum-student hangout. Some 34 professors – from the Balkans as well asthe US – staff the school. Enrollment is 450, but Hall and company plan for 600. Last year, the school celebrated its first graduating class, of 57.
Of those, more than 40 now work in Kosovo, a point of pride for Hall and the AUK board, whose members include prominent American Albanians like businessman Richard Lukaj and Ron Cami, a partner of the New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Students come mostly from the Albanian diaspora in 11 other countries, including Syria, Nigeria, and Algeria. Four Serbian students attend – and have not left despite Kosovo's declaration of independence.