Professor Christopher Stone, who was recently named director of the US-based Center for Arabic Study Abroad, was headed to the US embassy in Cairo to file paperwork for his wife when he his attacker confronted him, asked him his nationality, then stabbed him in the neck, according to state-run Al-Ahram.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman confirmed the May 9 attack, but said she could not speculate to the motive.
"It is our understanding that no altercation had taken place prior to the stabbing, and Mr. Stone was not at the embassy for consular services," the spokeswoman said.
Hunter College president Jennifer J. Raab said the scholar is on the mend.
"Professor Stone was treated in a local hospital and is expected to make a full recovery," Raab wrote in an email to the faculty.
Cairo police arrested the attacker at the scene.
"The perpetrator carried out the attack after establishing his victim to be a U.S. citizen," the State Department told NBC News in statement said.
The Princeton-educated Arab scholar is currently on sabbatical in Cairo at the American Research Center in Egypt.