AUB is home to just under twenty established centers of excellence with activities ranging from pure and applied research projects to the education of students, the organization of conferences, workshops, and broader forms of outreach. All or most of these centers are interdisciplinary in nature since the most challenging research problems often cross disciplinary boundaries or lie at their interfaces. A few produce their own publications or contribute to the University’s educational programming. For example, FAS’s Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies offers a Master’s degree to the largest concentration of international graduate students at the University, while Agriculture undergraduates are required to spend time at FAFS’s Agricultural Research and Education Center (AREC) in the Beqa’a valley. AREC and several other centers, such as the Nature Conservation Center (formerly IBSAR), the Issam Fares Institute, the Center for Research on Population and Health, and the Science and Mathematics Education Center, support a variety of well-developed outreach programs targeting different segments of society.
During 2012, the University announced the creation of two new research centers with strong outreach components: the Farouk K. Jabre Center for Arabic and Islamic Science and Philosophy; and the Asafri Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship in the Arab World. Both centers are expected to begin operations in 2013 following the appointment of their founding directors.
AUB faculty members with common research goals have also organized themselves into informal research groupings – a strategy that strengthens their ability to attract external funding from local, regional, and international partners. Part of this funding is often used to establish virtual ‘centers.’ FEA has been particularly active in this area, and lists well over a dozen faculty groupings, some of which, like the Energy Research Group (ERG), have high profiles in the region.
Research centers, institutes, and groupings are funded in a variety of ways: a few receive endowment income or operating budgets from the University, but most support their activities through a combination of external research grants and income earned from participation in projects administered by the Office of Regional External Programs.
In Fall 2010, at the commencement of AUB’s second strategic planning cycle, the provost established a planning unit to consider the role, governance, oversight, and financial identity of the University’s various centers of excellence. Members of the unit were asked to draft a comprehensive plan for centers, institutes, and museums that is consistent with AUB’s strategic objectives and includes major initiatives for implementation over the next five to ten years. The plan would enable these units to expand interdisciplinary research and programs; to ensure their alignment with, and contribution to, the mission of the University; to sustain and optimize the resources available to them; and to enhance their overall contribution to AUB’s intellectual environment. The members of the planning unit include the directors (or their designees) of many of the academic units listed to the right, including CAMS, IBSAR, the IFI, CAMES, the CCECS, and CASAR, as well as the chair of the IGESP Coordinating Committee and the directors of the Archeological Museum and the Natural History Museum. The unit’s chair is Provost Dallal and the vice-chair is Associate Provost Ghaddar, who is also chair of the Steering Committee of the Masri Institute.