AUB’s Faculty of Engineering and Architecture has become the first at the University to name one of its academic departments in honor of its donors, inaugurating “the Baha and Walid Bassatne Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering” at a gala dinner during Commencement week.
Although a first for AUB, the naming of departments in return for endowment gifts is a common practice at universities worldwide, enabling access to a significant source of funding for the development of those departments and to support their academic and research agendas.
AUB President Fadlo Khuri attended the inauguration dinner, as well as a large number of prominent figures from the Lebanese community and members of the Bassatne family including Baha and his younger brother Walid.
In his speech, Dr. Khuri said the Bassatne donation is in the category of a “transformative gift which will enable people to make major change.”
“It’s impressive to me that we’re naming our first academic department anywhere in AUB in our 150th year,” Dr. Khuri said. “I want to say thank you to Bassatne family.”
“Petroleum engineering and chemical engineering represent opportunities for sustainable development. It is an opportunity to fund that research, to fund scholars, and to safeguard our exceptional faculty and our great students so they can teach, learn and innovate.”
He also paid tribute to the outgoing Dean Makram Suidan: “Some candles burn faster and the light is brighter than others, and our dean here, who has served for five years and is stepping down at the end of August, has really put his name in the annals of AUB’s history as a great dean of FEA; and I want to say thank you.”
Donor Baha Bassatne commented: “I am very proud to stand before you tonight to celebrate my family’s new ties with this great academic institution celebrating its 150th anniversary. AUB has been a pillar of education in the region since its founding. Much has changed in our world since then, but this establishment has safeguarded the future by empowering and strengthening its graduates with knowledge and wisdom.”
Held on the roof terrace of FEA’s Bechtel Building, guests at the gala dinner included Mrs. Randa Berri, Mrs. Lama Salam, former Premiers Najib Mikati (pictured, second right) and Fouad Siniora, as well as Ministers Wael Abu Faour (pictured, left), Nuhad Machnouk, Gebran Bassil, Raymond Areiji and Rachid Derbas.
Also present were the president of the Lebanese Contractors’ Syndicate of Public Works and Buildings Maroun El-Helou, the head of the Lebanese Press Syndicate Awni Al-Kaaki and Taymour Walid Jumblatt, in addition to a number of ambassadors and members of the diplomatic and consular corps and former ministers, MPs a large group of friends of the Bassatne family and members of AUB community.
Baha Bassatne is the Chairman of BB Energy Group, which is among largest gasoil and gasoline traders in the Mediterranean. The company employs more than 200 employees in five offices around the world and trades approximately 16 million metric tons of crude oil and related products.