Board of Founders
POLIS University is a “privately funded institution” with strong social responsibility. The founders are a group of prominent Albanian professionals, civil society activists and academics that aim at the “creation of a critical mass” of expertise and civic-entrepreneurial leadership able to push Albania and the Region towards EU and global trends.
The “Founding Board” acts as supervisor and strategic apex and includes: S. Dhamo (Chairman) G. Haxhia, D. Shutina, B. Aliaj.
Sotir Dhamo is one of the founders of POLIS University, and currently is the Administrator of the Founding Board of this university. Sotir is an architect and urban planner with a long experience in these fields. He participated in several research studies conducted by the Institute of Architecture and Urban Planning since the early ‘90s, and later he contributed in other public and non-governmental organizations such as the Ministry of Public Works, Co-Plan, etc. In addition, Sotir has earned an Executive Master degree in public administration from the Syracuse University in US, as well as other post-graduate qualifications.
Sotir taught for some years in the Polytechnic University in Tirana as a guest professor, and currently he is teaching urban design and site planning analyses in POLIS University.
Among other things, Dhamo is co-founder of Metro_POLIS, a studio acting in the field of Architecture; co-founder of Forum A+P, the scientific journal of POLIS University, the only Albanian professional periodic in the fields of architecture and urban planning, which is published only in Albanian version.
Sotir Dhamo is also active in his professional field. He is engaged in projects for the formulation of plans and designs for various Albanian cities and other cities in the region; conducts research activity in the framework of the Research Unit of POLIS University; and as a member of the civil society he plays an important role in AUA, the Union of Albanian Architects. Finally, Dhamo wrote important scientific articles and other publications in his professional field in Albanian and English language.
Since 2003, Dritan Shutina is the Executive Director of Co-PLAN, the Institute for Habitat Development, which he co-founded in 1995. He is also one of the founders of POLIS University, the International School of Architecture and Urban Development Policies, where he teaches “Strategic Planning and Project Cycle Management”. Graduated in Civil Engineering, Mr. Shutina has completed post graduate studies in Holland and USA: in Public Policy at Graduate School for Public & International Affairs, University Pittsburg, USA; in “Leadership and Entrepreneurship” at “tailor-made” programs of State Department and Harvard University, USA.
His main fields of expertise are: Decentralization and Local Governance, Regional Development, Participatory Urban Planning, Strategic Planning, Formulation of Public Policies, Project Cycle Management, Project Evaluation, Organizational and Institutional Development, Civil Society Development, Knowledge Management, Moderation, Coaching.
For over 20 years, Dritan has been engaged in numerous projects in the planning and development field, including development in the field of neighborhood and city and region planning, organizational and institutional development, project design, monitoring and evaluation, decentralization and local government reform, urban planning management, local financing, democratization and civil society development in Albania, but also in Kosovo.
He is co-author of several publications and studies, among which: “Between Vacuum and Energy” (2009), “Policy followers or Policy makers 1-2! – Analysis and recommendations on the territorial governance in Albania” (2010, 2012), “The Technical Manual for Planning and Territory Development” (2015), “On the role and competences of the district and other supportive institutions of Regional Development”, etc.
Gazmend Haxhia is one of the founders of POLIS University, as well as one of the main lecturers and founder of MBA School at POLIS University. He is a graduate of Tirana University. In the beginning of the 90’s, he obtained a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York City in Business and International Relations and continued with further education in “Harvard Business School”, Boston USA, INSEAD France and “IEDC MBA Program” Bled, Slovenia. Gazmend Haxhia has a solid experience, initially in public administration serving as one of the advisors of the Prime Minister of Albania in the beginning of the 90’s. After his return from the USA, Gazmend Haxhia created a successful portfolio of private entrepreneurial opportunities in logistic services, tourism, transport and education. For several years he is senior lecturer of innovative entrepreneurship at POLIS University and teaches part time in Tirana University, the Management School in Bled-Slovenia, and “TUCK Business School” Dartmouth University, USA. Apart from his main engagement at POLIS, Gazmend Haxhia has been or is a member of several academic professional and international boards, such as: The American University in Kosovo, BCA Business Advisory Council for East and Central Europe; CEEMAN Organization of Business Schools in Central Europe, BKT Bank in Albania, YPO International, etc. Haxhia is selected by “DAVOS World Economic Summit” as a “Young Global Leader 2008” award winner. He is an author and is quoted in numerous articles in the entrepreneurship and business field.
Besnik Aliaj is one of the founders and the Rector of POLIS University and holds the “Professor” academic title in planning and urban design fields. He completed his postgraduate studies in Architecture in Tirana University, on the verge of the changes that took place in 1990. Afterwards he completed post graduate studies in planning and urban management field at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Holland (1995). In addition, Mr. Aliaj has completed other post graduate studies in Albania (Polytechnic University of Tirana), in Denmark (IPC College Helsingor), in Norway (Oslo University), in Italy ( the University of Florence), USA (Harvard Business School and IVP Program @ State Department), as well as in Peru (ILD Lima). He holds a PhD, a “Docent” and the “Professor” academic titles. Beyond the history of the alternative academic institution foundation of POLIS University, Prof. Aliaj has a rich academic experience and a very good knowledge of the educational system in Albania and beyond, starting from 1992 till today. It also includes 13 years of experience as an internal staff of Polytechnic University of Tirana, and 10 years as a guest staff in the University of Arts in Tirana. He has also lectured in Darmstadt University in Germany, without mentioning numerous lectures as a main guest in some European universities and international conferences. Besnik Aliaj is one of the co-founders and former head of CO-PLAN, a pioneering professional institution in the planning field; he is the founder of the architecture studio “Metro-POLIS”, and the “Forum A+P” magazine, the only periodic scientific one in the Albanian-speaking countries on architecture and urban planning; by considerably extending the range of his scientific, theoretical and practical contributions in the fields of interest. He is the author of many texts and articles in Albanian and English language. At present, Prof. Aliaj is a prominent intellectual giving valuable contributions and making a stand in many issues of public interest like: the reform of local government, the planning and territory, formal economy, the high education and science reform, as well as in many other civil society causes in the country.
However, the Board and the Rectorate of U_POLIS consults regularly and periodically with an informal board of experienced personalities in the field of academic studies in POLIS, Albania and abroad, in the form of a round table; these personalities are considered as "Friends of Polis" and are well known in the academic world and respected for their precious contribute through the years. Some of these personalities are: P. Nientied (Holland), D. Philippides (Greece), A. Saggio and A. Stella (Italy), F. Raunig and S. Zech (Austria), A. Fuga, A. Luarasi, K. Çashku (Albania), etc.
Beside these names, there is a whole network of loving and important contacts in strategic partners and schools, like UNIFE, Ferrara (Italy); IHS/Erasmus, Rotterdam (Netherland), IPAG Paris (France) dhe LTU (USA); which are always kept informed about the developments in POLIS.
For us, freedom of opinion, critics and suggestions coming from friends and collaborators are very important in order to guarantee standards and quality that go beyond the local context.