RIT professor elected Prime Minister of Libya
Posted at: 09/12/2012 10:53 PM
| Updated at: 09/13/2012 6:02 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion | WHEC.com
He once taught electrical engineering at RIT. Now he is the first elected prime minister of Libya, since the ouster of Mohammad Gadaffi.
The news comes almost two days after U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were at the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi. Dr. Mustafa Abushagur was elected in a narrow vote by the Libya parliament Wednesday night. Before returning to Libya, he taught for a number of years at RIT.
Dr. Abushagur had been deputy prime minister in Libya since Gadaffi was toppled and was a leading member of Libya’s oldest opposition movement. RIT’s president tells News10NBC there was a price on his head when Gadaffi ran the country. So he fled to the U.S. and taught at RIT for more than a decade. His challenge now is to stabilize Libya and his former students and colleagues couldn’t be more proud.
Abdel Salam, RIT student, said, “It’s not just me, it’s everybody there. They are not happy with what happened so.”
For PHD student, Abdel Salam, recent news of chaos in Libya where he grew up hasn’t been easy to hear or watch, but out of all the bad news, came some fairly good news.
Salam said, “I’m excited. It's not going to be easy I know it's going to be a challenge for him.”
Abdel Salam came to RIT in 2007 with the help of Dr. Mustafa Abushagur, an engineering professor at the time, who is now officially prime minister of Libya.
Salam said, “He is a motivated person who wants to do something. I guess he can do something these coming years.”
The announcement has been quite the buzz on RIT’s campus. Abdel Salam says Dr. Abushagur helped several students during his 11 years at RIT, leading a PHD and Microsystems program. He then became president of RIT’s Dubai campus in 2008. Even though he returned to Libya more than a year ago, his colleagues say he has not been forgotten.
RIT President Bill Destler said, “Very intelligent and I don’t think Libya could have asked for a better prime minister at this time.”
Students and faculty members say they are more than proud of the former RIT professor, especially at a time when his country needs him the most.
Destler said, “We are strongly supportive and moved by his courage and his willingness to take on this position in such a pivotal time in the history of Libya.”
RIT says Dr. Abushagur is still considered a faculty member on leave so if for whatever reason. He ever wanted to come back to RIT. They say he will be welcomed back with open arms.
RIT has not had contact with Dr. Abushagur. They say they can only imagine how busy he is right now. President Bill Destler said if he were to need any help, even thousands of miles away, they would do anything to help him.