University of Central Asia

UCA Staff

UCA Leadership
Faculty and Senior Staff
Research Staff

Shamsh Kassim-Lakha
Dr Bohdan Krawchenko
Dr Ariff Kachra
Rahim Somani
Grant Robertson
Gulnara Djunushalieva
Dr Horst Weyerhaeuser

Faculty and Senior Staff:
Dr Roman Mogilevskii
Dr Sharofat Mamadambarova
Dr Elmira Köchümkulova
Nisar Keshvani
Mirambakhsh Khudobakhshov
Dr Pulat Shozimov
Parviz Alidodkhonov
Dilovar Butabekov
Anara Duisheeva
Dr Raikhan Sissekenova
Khairisho Shonusairiev
Bakhytzhan Sametayev
Asel Turgunbaeva


 Shamsh Kassim-Lakha Shamsh Kassim-Lakha
Executive Chairman, Board Executive Committee

Shamsh Kassim-Lakha is the Executive Chairman of the Board Executive Committee of UCA, and is leading the planning and building of UCA’s three campuses in Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan.

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 met extensively from 1995 to 1998 and developed the concept document 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. Reflecting his continued commitment to the region, in 2014, Kassim-Lakha was appointed the Aga Khan Development Network’s diplomatic representative to the Kyrgyz Republic.
As Founding President of the Aga Khan University (AKU), the first private university chartered in South Asia, Kassim-Lakha led the planning, building and operations of this internationally renowned institution for nearly three decades. AKU was established by His Highness the Aga Khan in 1983 and has campuses in Pakistan, Eastern Africa and the United Kingdom.
Kassim-Lakha 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). Kassim-Lakha has published extensively on school and higher education, philanthropy, civil society and management in renowned journals including the Lancet and Nature and has contributed book chapters on some of these themes.
Kassim-Lakha chairs the board of the Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy and is a Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. He recently retired from the board of the International Baccalaureate Organization, after two successive terms. In recognition of his academic and social work, Kassim-Lakha has received honorary degrees from McMaster University, Canada and 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.

Dr Bohdan KrawchenkoDr Bohdan Krawchenko
Director General

Educated at Bishop’s University, University of Toronto, University of Glasgow, he received a doctorate from the University of Oxford. Until 1991, he was professor in the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies and director of the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta. He worked for many years as a consultant to the Secretary of State, Government of Canada, and Ministry of Culture, Province of Alberta. In 1991 he moved to Ukraine to become Director of Policy Studies at the Council of Advisors to the Parliament of Ukraine, and 1992 became founder and director of the Institute of Public Administration and Local Government, Cabinet of Ministers. In 1995 the Institute was re-organised into the Academy of Public Administration, Office of the President of Ukraine and he was appointed vice-rector for academic development and Director of the Centre for the Study of Administration Reform. Dr Krawchenko participated in numerous Ukrainian government committees, task forces and working groups. These include the President’s Council on Social and Economic Affairs, the Policy Unit of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Working Group on the Establishment of the Civil Service, the Working Group on Monetary Reform and the Commission on Administrative Reform. He has also served as a consultant to the World Bank and OECD. He was visiting associate professor at Harvard University, Department of Government, and visiting professor at the College of Europe in Natolin, Poland. In 1995 he received an honourary doctorate from the University of North London, in 1997 was made an honourary professor of the University of ‘Kyiv-Mohyla Academy’, in 2000 received an honourary doctorate from the Ukrainian Academy of Public Administration, and in 2000 was awarded an Order of Merit from the President of Ukraine. He was editor of “Occasional Papers in Public Administration and Public Policy” published by the Network of Institutes and Schools of Public Administration in Central and Eastern Europe, and member of international editorial boards of several journals among them Public Management and Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis. Dr Krawchenko joined the University of Central Asia in October 2004, where he currently serves as the Director General.

Dr Ariff KachraDr Ariff Kachra
Dean, Academic Affairs

Dr Ariff Kachra leads Academic Affairs at UCA. Dr Kachra holds a PhD in Strategy and General Management from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario. Prior to joining UCA, Dr Kachra taught at the Richard Ivey School of Business, where he was a member of the University of Western Ontario Teaching Honour Role and among the highest ranked professors for Executive Development. He served as Academic Director of the Ivey Consulting Project and Founding Editor of the Ivey Business Review. Dr Kachra was also Managing Director of Ivey India, where he led a team establishing Ivey in India, building Ivey India’s case collection and capacity to become the largest in the world, training 1,000 faculty and creating three milestone partnerships with the top business schools in India.  Earlier, Dr. Kachra taught at Pepperdine's Graziadio School of Business and Management and at the Indian School of Business. At Pepperdine, he was the Director of the MBA Programme.  His research interests include knowledge management, decision making, top management teams, improvisation, ethics in strategic management and international joint ventures. He has also consulted with, trained and coached hundreds of executives at a number of medium and large sized companies in Canada, the United States and India. Dr. Kachra has published in Strategic Management Journal, Journal of World Business and Journal of Management Education. He is also the Founder and Managing Director of Strat-ology Consulting Inc., which specialises in strategic facilitation, executive development, training, executive coaching and educational consulting.  In his spare time, Dr Kachra volunteers with various AKDN agencies, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Better Business Bureau, and provides career coaching to his former students.

 Rahim Somani Rahim Somani
Chief Financial Officer and Director University Administration

Mr Rahim Somani provides leadership and oversight over the Finance, Human Resources, Administration and Information Technology departments at UCA. His expertise extends to finance, strategic and financial planning, human resource management, systems and MIS, administration, capital projects, corporate affairs, internal audit, and programme management. Before joining UCA, Mr Somani spent over a decade working with Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan (AKES, P), where he served at various times as the Programme Manager for Humanitarian Assistance Programmes, the General Manager for Finance, Planning and Support Services, the Company Secretary, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and the Acting CEO. Prior to AKES, P Mr Somani was associated with the Internal Audit department of the Aga Khan University Hospital. He completed his CA article-ship at A.F. Ferguson & Co. (a member firm of Price Waterhouse Coopers). Mr Somani is a qualified Chartered Accountant (CA) and a Cost & Management Accountant (CMA) from Pakistan and is also a qualified Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and CA from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia, Canada. He holds an MA in Educational Planning, Economics and International Development from the Institute of Education, University of London. He holds an MA in Educational Planning, Economics and International Development from the Institute of Education, University of London.

 Grant Robertson Grant Robertson
Director, Construction and Facilities

Grant Robertson leads the team managing the design and construction of the three UCA campuses. Prior to joining UCA, he was project director with Mace International responsible for a luxury 5-star hotel and residential development, constructed to 4 Seasons standards and specifications. He has extensive experience working in the former USSR, CIS and Eastern European countries, as well as in his home country of Scotland. Over the 25 years of his professional career, he has worked on projects in 13 countries and earned a well-respected reputation for the successful completion of complex projects in remote areas. Prior to joining UCA, Mr Robertson served as the Regional Director of Emerging Markets in Central and Eastern Europe with Bovis Lend Lease, an internationally renowned property group specializing in project management, construction, real estate investment and development. In that role, he led 13 projects across four countries and built a team to meet the demands of their growing business. Before that, Mr Robertson worked with Philip Morris Engineering, where he was responsible for the design, management, and operationalization of their tobacco plant in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

 Gulnara Djunushalieva Gulnara Djunushalieva
Director, School of Professional and Continuing Education

Gulnara Djunushalieva supervises all activities and personnel of SPCE in the three countries, including administering the development, coordination, maintenance, and evaluation for the educational programme. She has built support with local communities and international organisations and has ensured quality of activities. Prior to joining UCA, she was Director of Bishkek International School of Management and Business (MBA program) under Academy of Management of President of Kyrgyz Republic and Manager of Economy Department of Kyrgyz State National University, ITPS. Ms Djunushalieva holds an MBA, and a degree in economic science, and is a Certified International Professional Accountant.

Dr Horst WeyerhaeuserDr Horst Weyerhaeuser
Director, Mountain Societies Research Institute

Dr Horst Weyerhaeuser leads the Mountain Societies Research Institute at UCA. He spent nearly 25 years working in Asia in the field of research for development. Prior to joining UCA, Dr Weyerhaeuser spent five years in Laos as an advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. There, he was responsible for the development and implementation of large scale research programs and involved in the development of national and regional research strategies. Before that, Dr Weyerhaeuser spent eight years as a senior scientist and country representative in China for the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), where he developed ICRAF’s research strategy, partnership programs, and the policy support framework for China. During that time he also set up and coordinated the joint Center for Mountain Ecosystem Research (CMES) in Kunming. Dr Weyerhaeuser received his PhD in Silviculture Management from Freiburg University, an MSc in Natural Resource Management from Cranfield University, and a BSc in Ecology from Tuebingen University.


Dr Roman MogilevskiiDr Roman Mogilevskii
Head of Research, Institute of Public Policy & Administration

Dr. Roman Mogilevskii coordinates the Institute of Public Policy and Administration at UCA. He has extensive experience researching trade policy, public finance, and macroeconomics in Central Asia and Central Europe. He has also participated in the implementation of research, advisory and training programs across the CIS and has published numerous papers on the issues of regional cooperation and economic policy. Dr. Mogilevskii has held advisory positions at a variety of international organizations operating in Central Asia, such as the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the European Commission. He has also served as the Executive Director of the Center for Social and Economic Research in Kyrgyzstan (CASE-Kyrgyzstan). Dr. Mogilevskii holds a Candidate of Sciences degree in Physics and Mathematics from the Institute of Mechanics of the Uzbek Academy of Sciences and a degree in Engineering and Economics from the Frunze Polytechnic Institute.

Dr Sharofat MamadambarovaDr Sharofat Mamadambarova
Head, Aga Khan Humanities Programme

Dr Sharofat Mamadambarova has been affiliated with AKHP since 1998 in curriculum development and assessment, and as a Master Trainer at Khorog State University where she also served as head of the department, Dean of Humanities and as Deputy to the Rector from 1992-2000. Prior to joining UCA, Dr Mamadambarova taught and managed projects at Dushanbe Pedagogical University’s foreign languages faculty for more than 16 years as an assistant professor, head of the department and as a vice dean. Dr Mamadambarova has served as a consultant for research projects with the Christensen Fund and participated in numerous exchanges and trainings on pedagogy and assessment in the United States. She received her PhD from the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1990. She is currently on sabbatical until March 2014.

Dr Elmira KöchümkulovaDr Elmira Köchümkulova
Acting Head and Senior Research Fellow, Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit

Dr Elmira Köchümkulova coordinates the Cultural Heritage & Humanities Unit at the University of Central Asia (UCA). She completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees with the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Washington and is one of the leading cultural anthropologists in the region. She has edited books and authored articles on Central Asian music, oral traditions, Islam and nomadic cultures. She has presented extensively at international conferences and lectured on Central Asian Islam, Kyrgyz musical and oral traditions, nomadic life and funeral customs at leading universities and research centres including Harvard University’s Central Asian Studies Group, the University of Chicago’s Central Asian Studies Society and Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. Dr Köchümkulova’s research focuses on the historical and contemporary significance of traditions and customs in Turkic Central Asia. She is the co-editor of the UCA/Aga Khan Music Initiative textbook Music of Central Asia: An Introduction, contributing several chapters on Kyrgyz oral tradition and music and taught the UCA pilot course based on the textbook. She served as scholarly editor and coordinated the production of a seminal two-volume collection Kyrgyz Küüs: Analysis, Thoughts, and Opinions (in Kyrgyz language), the first scholarly text on Kyrgyz instrumental music authored by Asan Kaybïlda uulu and published by the UCA Cultural Heritage Book Series. Dr Köchümkulova is currently working on several books on topics ranging from Kyrgyz national identity to Kyrgyz funeral lamentations. She speaks six languages and is an accomplished musician and composer, having performed widely across the United States and Central Asia.  

 Nisar Keshvani Nisar Keshvani
Head, Communications & Marketing

Singaporean Nisar Keshvani first came to the University of Central Asia (UCA) in 2010 and founded its Communications Department in 2011. In 2015, his portfolio expanded to include University marketing. He brings 20 years of experience across five continents in academia, corporate communications and multimedia journalism to UCA. Keshvani brings a unique combination of practical experience in journalism, marketing and public relations with strategic intellectual engagement in academia and public service. Most of his career has involved implementing entrepreneurial initiatives, including start-up communications divisions, innovative media projects and new academic programmes and curricula. He has 15 years of experience teaching, conducting research and developing curricula in communications. He lectured at Republic Polytechnic’s Centre for Enterprise and Communication, Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Film and Media School, Queensland University of Technology’s School of Media and Journalism and Murdoch University’s Journalism programme. He has worked as a journalist and editor-in-chief in print, online and television journalism since 1993 and is an award-winning film maker. Keshvani served as Editor-in-chief of the peer reviewed on-line academic journal Leonardo Electronic Almanac (MIT Press). He also worked in corporate communications for Chevron, the Singapore Police Force and the Singapore Film Festival. As a consultant with the Aga Khan Foundation (Geneva), Keshvani developed the and websites. In 2007, he served on a five-member global consulting team which conceptualised and developed He has served on various boards including the fineArt forum, Multimedia Art Asia Pacific Festival and the UNESCO “Digi-Arts” project and has published extensively and presented at international conferences on new media technologies, newsroom trends, education, art, and science and technology.


 Mirambakhsh Khudobakhshov Mirambakhsh Khudobakhshov
Controller Finance

Mir Khudobakhshov has worked with the University of Central Asia (UCA) for more than a decade and is responsible for the oversight of finance functions including systems development and compliance. In 2002, he joined UCA in Khorog, as Head of Operations and later moved to Bishkek as Finance Manager. Before joining UCA, he worked with the Aga Khan Development Network, Tajikistan as Liaison Officer and previously as Assistant Coordinator for FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance. Mir has a Master of Science in Development Policy and Project Management from the University of Bradford (UK) and is currently pursuing his ACCA (Association of Certified Chartered Accountants) qualification. Mir also has a Certificate in International Financial Reporting Standards from ACCA (UK) and Certificate in Business Communication from University of Toronto (Canada). Mir has played a key role in the implementation of iSCALA (financial information system) at UCA.

Dr Pulat ShozimovDr Pulat Shozimov
Acting Head and Faculty Development Programme Manager, Aga Khan Humanities Project

Dr Pulat Shozimov currently serves as both Acting Head and Faculty Development Programme Manager of UCA’s Aga Khan Humanities Project. As Acting Head, Dr Shozimov oversees AKHP activities, including curriculum development, Humanities in English classes, faculty development activities, and AKHP’s Resource Centre and public lecture series. As Faculty Development Programme Manager, Dr Shozimov oversees a rigorous training programme in interactive curricula and pedagogy among a network of institutions of higher learning in Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan. A leading Central Asian academic, Dr Shozimov formerly served as Curriculum Development Project Officer at AKHP. He headed the Department of Western Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy, Political Studies and Law of the Tajikistan Academy of Sciences, and has conducted research on culture and the formation of national identity in Central Asia. Dr Shozimov graduated with distinction from the Pushkin Institute of Russian Language and Literature, Dushanbe; received his PhD from the Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences, Almaty; and his Doctor of Philosophical Sciences from the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan, Dushanbe. He is author of Tajik Identity and State Building in Tajikistan, over 70 articles, and editor and author of several chapters of Fergana Valley: The Heart of Central Asia (ME Sharpe, 2011).

 Parviz Alidodkhonov Parviz Alidodkhonov
Head, Administration

Parviz Alidodkhonov joined the University of Central Asia in 2009. As Head of Administration, he is responsible for procurement, supply processes, travel, transportation, policy and regulations. He oversees the administrative function of the University across all three countries – Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic. Before joining UCA, from 2002 – 2004, Parviz  worked for the Aga Khan Foundation, Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, and with FOCUS Humanitarian Assistance from 2004 – 2005, managing their procurement and logistics. Parviz successfully completed his MBA in 2007 from the Bishkek Finance and Economic Academy. He also has a BSc in Philology from the Tajik-Russian Slavonic University.

 Dilovar Butabekov Dilovar Butabekov
Deputy Director, SPCE Afghanistan & Tajikistan

Dilovar Butabekov is Deputy Director of the School of Professional and Continuing Education with responsibility of Tajikistan and Afghanistan programmes and campus head of Khorog. Butabekov has had a long career with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), having started as a junior staff member in the AKDN office in Khorog, and then progressed to the position of Administration Manager for the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), Tajikistan and  Director of Administration for AKF, Tajikistan. Butabekov holds an Executive MBA (with merit) from the Bradford University School of Management, a Diploma in Economics from the School of Entrepreneurship, Ukraine, and a degree in Civil Aviation Engineering from the Kyiv Civil Aviation Engineering Institute.

 Anara Duisheeva Anara Duisheeva
Campus Head, SPCE Naryn

Anara Duisheeva is Head of UCA’s School of Professional and Continuing Education Naryn Campus. She was Manager of Finance and Administrative Services at SPCE Naryn from 2009 – 2012. Prior to joining UCA, Anara worked with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) first as Office Manager and later as Finance Assistant. After UNDP, she worked as credit specialist with the Kyrgyz Investment and Credit Bank (KICB) and then as Junior Internal Auditor.  She is a Law graduate from the Naryn State University, afterwhich she completed her Masters degree in Public Administration from Academy of Management under the President of Kyrgyz Republic in 2003. Anara is currently pursuing her Certified Accounting Practitioner certification.

Dr Raikhan SissekenovaDr Raikhan Sissekenova
Government and Public Relations Representative, Kazakhstan

Raikhan has served as UCA’s Government and Public Relations Representative in Kazakhstan since 2009. Prior to that, she was engaged in start-up activities for the University and served as Head of the School of Professional and Continuing Education in Tekeli. Raikhan brings significant research, programme implementation and legal experience to UCA from various sectors. She provided scientific support to the Kazakh Health of the Nation programme from 1999 to 2001, participated in national social and demographic surveys from 1999 to 2003, and contributed to the development of several legislative bills. Raikhan is trained as a medical doctor and has a degree in medical sciences, public health and management. She has also studied social management in Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom. Raikhan has published extensively, including articles in scientific publications and three manuals on public health, legal issues and education.

 Khairisho Shonusairiev Khairisho Shonusairiev
Manager, SPCE Learning Centre, Dushanbe

Khairisho Shonusairiev oversees and coordinates activies at the SPCE Learning Centre in Dushanbe. These include teaching and learning processes, quality assurance activities and liaising with the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Tajikistan. Previously, he served as Principal of the Aga Khan Lyceum, Khorog, and Liaison Officer for the Aga Khan Education Service (AKES) in Tajikistan and Kyrgyz Republic. After attending a one-year programme on training university faculty in English at the University of Durham, United Kingdom, Khairisho conducted professional development courses for English teachers at Tajik State Pedagogical University and secondary schools in Dushanbe. Supported by AKES, Khairisho trained over 100 instructors on interactive pedagogy, linguistics, second language acquisition, and materials development. He also served as Department Head of Foreign Languages for Specific Purposes, Dean of the English Department and Director of the Language Centre at the Tajik State Pedagogical University. Khairisho has a degree in English from Tajik State Pedagogical University and a Certificate in Education from Aga Khan University’s Institute for Educational Development.

 Bakhytzhan Sametayev Bakhytzhan Sametayev
Manager, Academic Affairs, SPCE Tekeli

From 2009-2014, Mr Bakhytzhan Sametayev was the Outreach Coordinator for the School of Professional and Continuing Education, Tekeli. In this capacity, he established strong relations with the Damu Entrepreneurship Development Fund in Almaty to support entrepreneurs and businessmen. Prior to joining UCA, he was a civil servant with the Almaty region Finance Department. He also served as Head of of Information Technology and Internal Auditor. He frequently speaks at regional conferences and lectures on topics such as national support for Initial Public Offerings and support for businesses in small towns. Sametayev holds a Bachelor's degree from the Gorno-Altay State University, Russia and is currently completing his Master's degree in Economics at the Moscow Witte University.

 Asel Turgunbaeva Asel Turgunbaeva
Manager, SPCE Learning Centre, Bishkek

Asel Turgunbaeva joined the University of Central Asia (UCA) in 2011 as Learning Centre Coordinator, Bishkek with the School of Professional and Continuing Education (SPCE), Kyrgyz Republic. At the Centre, Asel works on implementing several projects ranging from employment skills training for new Bishkek residents, training of civil servants, and preparing students for academic success through the English for Academic Purposes programme. 
Prior to joining UCA, she worked as Senior English Language Instructor with the Bishkek Humanities University. She was also a Fullbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant specialising in teaching Kyrgyz at Indiana University. She was also Project Coordinator for Small Grants Programmes with Bashat, a non-governmental biodiversity organization for four years.
In 2003, Asel graduated with an Honours Degree from the Department of European Civilisations at Bishkek Humanities University. She has also participated in numerous professional development courses in foreign language development both in the Kyrgyz Republic and USA.