AUB’s class of 1982 realized their long-awaited dream of celebrating their commencement ceremony, as part of Reunion 2012, June 29 to July 1, hosted by AUB and WAAUB.
In 1982, Lebanon had been in the throes of war and so the university was not able to organize an official ceremony for the graduates.
Thirty years later, dressed in full commencement regalia, members of the class of ‘82 proudly flowed into Assembly Hall as friends, family and members of the AUB community looked on.
“As alumni, you are all part of this energetic and unified group at AUB. You’ve waited a long time, and I can only hope we are fulfilling some of your dreams in staging this graduation,” said President Peter Dorman in his congratulatory speech.
Lebanese media personality Ricardo Karam (class of ’86) served as master of ceremonies.
WAAUB president Nabil Dajani welcomed the class of ’82 back to campus, later reminiscing about his years as an AUB student.
“I know in your hearts and minds, you’ve always been tied to your alma mater,” he said.
Graduates were called up individually by name and handed their diplomas by President Dorman.
In her commencement speech to fellow 1982 graduates, Reem Acra, (BBA), now a highly acclaimed and internationally-renowned fashion designer said, “I stand before you, not only as a former classmate, but as a child of AUB.”
“AUB sets the foundations for a successful future, and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the experiences that this extraordinary place has granted me,” Acra said.
In his speech, Ashraf Ghani (BA ’73, MA ’77), now a prominent politician in Afghanistan, spoke of AUB’s strength and resiliency, particularly through the turbulent times of war. He stressed the importance of remembering the past while keeping one’s focus on the present.
“Learning at AUB was a commitment to mutual understanding, but most of all, it was a call to a sacred duty to lead and guide, with the responsibility to give back.”
After reciting the AUB alma mater, the graduates gathered on the steps of the MainGate to pose for their class photograph, cheering and chanting “AUB,” then flinging high their graduation caps in unison.
It’s as if we turned back time,” said Lilas Mahagmi, graduate from the FEA class of ’82. “I feel young again, and it feels like we are starting new lives,” said her friend and classmate Ghada Shayban, also an engineering graduate.
Another key event of the Reunion weekend was the Honoring Ceremony for alumni celebrating their 50th, 25th and 5th anniversary of graduation held Friday evening at Assemby Hall.“They’ve carried their degrees for a long time and it’s time to honor them for it,” said Arabia Mohamad Ali, director of alumni relations and organizer of the event.
Ghada Rihani, chair of the programs committee, emceed the event. Dr. Talal Farah (BA ’62), former Lebanese Minister of Finance Raya Haffar El Hassan (BBA `87) and Rima Karaki (TD ’07) addressed their fellow classmates that evening..
Haffar (BBA ’87) noted that her time spent at AUB “epitomizes the best period of my life.”
“Even in the most difficult periods that Lebanon experienced, AUB maintained a solid reputation and continued to deliver educational excellence by promoting analytical thinking, leadership and entrepreneurship,” the minister explained.
Afterwards, at a reception on the grounds of Assembly Hall the celebrating classes reminisced with fellow alumni, sharing memories they hold dear from their AUB experience.
“I remember sitting on the stairs at West Hall, where we students used to hang out, and I remember the openness and friendship,” said Rola Halabi Chaaban, graduate in political studies and public administration, class of ’87. “It was a social turning point in my life. I used to be shy, but AUB opened me up.”
“Engineering graduate Mohammad Kabbani, class of ’62, said, “I am always here enjoying the campus, the nicest place in the city. It’s like I never left.”
Other activities of the reunion weekend included a homecoming brunch, a gala dinner on the Green Oval and a sea cruise off the cost of Byblos as well as a gathering at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture for FEA alumni featuring Suad Amiry (BAR `76).
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences hosted a panel discussion entitled ”The AUB Experience across Time and Borders” with the participation of Zubeida Barmania (MA `67), Ashraf Ghani (BA`73, MA `77) and Haffar El Hassan with Makram Rabah (BA `03, MA `07) moderating.