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Dear friends and colleagues of the AUB community, 

Every gift counts 

I am proud to announce that AUB has just completed its most successful fundraising year to date, receiving $78.3 million during FY 2016-17, and topping $100.7 million in new gifts and new pledges. We have deservedly spoken at length this year about the Semaan Foundation gift—the largest in AUB’s history—a gift which affords us a sustainable endowment for the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (SFEA). But even without that extraordinary donation from the late, much mourned Mr. Semaan, this year of philanthropy which saw the launch of BOLDLY AUB: The Campaign to Lead, Innovate and Serve comfortably shatters previous records. This is a phenomenal achievement in these challenging times, and yet again proves the undying commitment and generosity of our friends, supporters, alumni, trustees, deans, faculty, staff, and new graduates, who have joined the list of more than 5,000 individuals, businesses and foundations giving wholeheartedly to AUB in support of our unique mission. 222.PNG

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When we say “every dollar counts”, we are telling the truth and not just paying lip service to the vast majority who—short of a major lottery win—cannot hope to individually dent our ambitious $650 million target of the BOLDLY AUB campaign. Perhaps the best example of a significant collective gift is the Fingerprints drive, which solicits small contributions—just $25—from final year students as a senior gift; giving something back to the University as they leave to apply the knowledge and skills they have developed at AUB. The Fingerprints fund has grown to more than $1.8 million— with matching pledges from trustees and the USFC—and it has generated more than half a million dollars in support over its 12 years, aid with which we have been able to help more than 240 students. There is no qualifying restriction to receive the grant, except need. Think of the difference this has made and you will realize immediately that no gift is too modest. As our outstanding and tireless VP for Advancement, Dr. Imad Baalbaki, is fond of saying: “No one knows how generous the gift is except the person giving it.” Indeed every gift is a step closer to our goal and in this spirit I would love to see us pushing towards 100% participation in the campaign, from all our above grade staff, faculty members, graduates, and wageearning alumni. Please go ahead and make us even prouder of you than we are already! 

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Unsung heroes of PPD 

As our campus broils in the summer heat, I would like you to spare a few minutes to consider the hardworking and dedicated women and men of AUB’s Physical Plant Department, for whom this is anything but a time of rest and recuperation. Using the summer window with fewer customers on their books, PPD staff labor all hours to repair, replace and renovate equipment, internal spaces and infrastructure that are essential to the smooth running of this institution and the comfort of its community. Large-scale renovations of men’s and women’s dormitories are underway, as well as dozens of faculty residences, not to mention classrooms, labs and offices all over the University, all while keeping our vital green spaces in excellent condition. Yes, we are the inheritors of some ageing buildings with the challenges that this im​​plies. Under the directorship of Jean Abdelnoor, his motivated managerial team and multi-trade work force provide all types of services including events logistics to the community on a 24- hour cycle. The team has radically improved its delivery of operation and maintenance services to make our working and living spaces as pleasant and habitable as possible, despite facing many challenges, tight budgets and the pressure of time always bearing down. Whatever the challenge, the word “no” is not in their lexicon, and we are fortunate indeed to benefit from their care and guardianship throughout the year. 

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​In addition to his role as PPD director, Jean is also manager of AUB’s colossal power plant on lower campus, whose steam boilers, turbines, and generators thunder through the day at nearly full capacity to keep our lights, computers and airconditioning units working, as well as providing essential uninterrupted power for patients and staff at AUBMC and server rooms in the IT department. The power plant—like so much of what PPD accomplishes—is not a luxury that can fail; our vital work and lives depend on it. And so our sincere thanks go to those extraordinary individuals who endure the extreme heat and deafening, tenebrous conditions to keep us connected in the face of Lebanon’s pitifully unreliable public utilities. A last word on the toughest jobs at AUB, the unprecedented nomination and selection of an extraordinary university janitor, Jamal Omar, in last month’s President’s Service Excellence Awards was a testimony to the unrelenting efforts of those members of our community who undertake work that few of us would be able to sustain. Far be it for me to underplay the service excellence of the other deserving awardees, Samia Azar of IT, Nurse Surgical Technologist Ali Juni, and Clinical Educator Rafika Zaatari; on the contrary, each stands out in their field and merits their recognition. But Jamal’s award is shared by all at Physical Plant, especially those least celebrated yet who carry out the most essential and difficult work, and I know the news was appreciated by the whole department in a spirit of true collegiality. Congratulations. 

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FPDU building our future 

One cannot talk about Physical Plant without also highlighting the outstanding contribution of the Facilities Planning and Design Unit (FPDU), which sprouted from PPD in 2002 to take charge of the previous Master Plan launched under my predecessor John Waterbury. Most of FPDU’s work happens offstage, as it takes projects through the lengthy and complex process of concept development, to detailed design, through construction, to handing over finished buildings. Back in 2002, following the reconstruction of our bombed College Hall, it was vital to kick start campus development after the hiatus of war lasting nearly 30 years. Since then, the FPDU team, under the leadership of Bassem Barhoumi from September 2007, has developed its own expertise and had incalculable impact. The 2002 Master Plan focus was on providing space for student athletics (Hostler Center), business education (OSB), and an engineering compound (IOEC), to name a few. This has been followed by further transformative projects, including the Aga Khan Award-winning Issam Fares Institute and recently, under my presidency, a set of more than two dozen projects needed prior to the formal adoption of our next Campus Master Plan interdigitated with AUB’s Strategic Plan for 2030. If you visit campus this summer, you will not miss the intensive works in progress on the new Munib and Angela Masri Building , the demolition/reconstruction of Penrose Hall, renovation of Reynolds Hall, work on the Jesup facades, and starting today, the replacement of the Green Field artificial turf and synthetic running track. 

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​If successful, the 2017 Master Plan, will instigate a transformation of the University campus on a scale not seen since the nineteenth century, when a bold new college campus was laid out ab​​ove the cactus-covered escarpment by the Mediterranean undertaken by Daniel Bliss and his associates. We will rely heavily on FPDU to realize the visions that will fuse together in the coming years, underpinning the five main components of the BOLDLY campaign: to enrich our educational research experience, to enhance our healthcare experience, to put innovation and entrepreneurship at the core, including the humanities, to solidify and expand our community relevance, and to ensure sustainability. There are of course major challenges ahead. When it comes to designing new buildings and curricula, it is impossible to please everyone, or sometimes anyone, given the inevitable clashes of taste and end-user requirements. Nor is this bold plan being conceived on some remote, wide open space, but here on our most prized material possession, AUB’s beautiful green campus, and alongside our most important constituency, our students, for whom being given the room and time to think and learn is sacrosanct. Bassem and his team of skilled engineers (civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers, architects, and landscape architect) are wellversed in safeguarding these precious commodities and we shall be drawing heavily on their expertise in the coming years. 

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Best regards, 

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD
President