Dear friends and colleagues of the AUB community,
Sincere thanks to the workers of AUB
Imagine the American University of Beirut without its non-academic employees. Without protection and safety officers keeping us secure, groundskeepers tending to our walkways and green spaces, cleaners and plant engineers, catering and laundry staff, nurses and hospital staff, lab technicians, and administrators ensuring the smooth operation of all aspects of life. A university prospers because of its students, its faculty, and its staff, and would perish without each one of these essential constituencies working in concord with the other two. So let me wish a belated happy Labor Day to our outstanding and hard-working staff following their well-deserved May 1 holiday!
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, a dedicated body of staff maintains the operation of our dynamic community. AUB is not just the largest private employer in Lebanon; it is also a place where employees serve with unfathomable levels of longevity, love, and loyalty, not for president or administration—nor should they—but for the respect and fellowship of colleagues and the enduring message of hope and inclusivity this institution embodies. They seek no special commendation or thanks, only the satisfaction of having served this great university in its unique mission.
I find myself humbled, but also greatly inspired, by the stories of our non-academic staff as they absorb AUB's essence as an educational institution. Many, of course, were students here themselves—a testimony of the magnetic draw this university exerts on its scions—and these staff-alumni continue on their journey of lifelong learning in this ever-rejuvenating cultural and intellectual setting. But the most
transformative stories concern those who tasted no such advantages before their arrival at AUB but, through undergraduate tuition waivers and educational scholarships, they see their children attaining academic heights from which they themselves were excluded.
As evinced annually in the exemplary
President's Service Excellence Awards, our non-managerial staff do not content themselves merely with an honest day's work: they are problem solvers, mentors, leaders, creators, experts, and partners, who improve the systems they work on and do everything to maximize their service to AUB. The participatory role of staff is also evident in the unfailingly constructive annual negotiations between the executive and the Workers and Staff Syndicate of AUB, a key plank in the shared governance template which keeps our institution on track. When advocating for the dignity and just reward for labor, members of the syndicate are no less infused with AUB's values of critical thinking, civic responsibility, and respect for dialogue than any other member of our community and they uphold an important democratic function with great collegiality.
So let us salute AUB's magnificent and diligent staff. Labor Day in Lebanon is one day when we celebrate and reward the workers of this nation. At AUB we extend our thanks to our staff for their service throughout 365 days of the year.
Restructuring our alumni network
While our staff keeps the university wheels turning, we look to AUB's alumni to be our ambassadors around the globe, our wise counsel at home, and our partners in support of students. I count myself as a proud member of this 68,000-strong community, so many of whom spend their lives dedicated to making a better place of the world around them.
One of my priorities since coming back to AUB in 2015 has been to strengthen and enhance the ineffable AUB alumni connection. For the past year-and-a-half, a remarkably diverse committee of
stakeholders has met both formally and informally to consider various proposals to restructure the
Worldwide Alumni Association of AUB (WAAAUB). It has comprised former presidents of WAAAUB; representatives from some of our leading alumni chapters in Lebanon, the MENA region, and North America; current and former alumni-elected trustees; current members of the Board of Trustees Alumni Affairs Committee; a student representative from the University Student Faculty Committee; alumni at large; AUB legal counsels; and senior university alumni leadership. From their deliberations emerged a simpler structure and
a revised set of bylaws that the Board of Trustees approved in March 2019, a labor of love and consensus led by VP for Advancement and AUB alumnus Imad Baalbaki.
The restructured WAAAUB includes a globally representative 18-person Alumni Advisory Board, half of whom are elected and half appointed by the president of the university; a Chapters Council, made up of all alumni chapter presidents, that will serve as a forum for the exchange of ideas, experiences, and best practices; and a general secretary, who will report to the VP for Advancement, liaise between the Alumni Advisory Board and the Chapters Council, and be responsible for WAAAUB operations. The Alumni Relations Offices in Beirut and New York will continue to support chapters and help organize alumni events and programs worldwide. You will be hearing more about the new structure and elections for the nine elected positions on the Alumni Advisory Board and the three alumni positions on the Board of Trustees soon.
I want to thank Hisham Jaroudi (BAR '66) for serving as interim president of WAAAUB between November 2017 and March 2019. He has recently stepped down to take on a new position as president of the
AUB Alumni Association (AAA) in Lebanon, our oldest
and largest alumni group. AAA represents a large cohort of our alumni in Lebanon and is a core member of the WAAAUB network of chapters. I have asked Dr. Nagi F. Khouri (MD '71) to be WAAAUB interim president until the Alumni Advisory Board is in place and has elected its chair.
Of all the great universities that I have encountered, there is none which can match the bond that AUB shares with its alumni. Founded on pride, gratitude, altruism, and the fondest of memories, it is a connection that transcends time, distance, and—in many cases—multiple generations. It makes AUB a far richer and more dynamic university in the service of new generations of students while, at the same time, enriching the lives of alumni long after they move on from the wonderful Ras Beirut campus.
I am confident that this new structure for WAAAUB will support our efforts to build lifelong relationships with the soon-to-be 70,000 alumni who share the university's values, hopes, and aspirations. It will also make it easier for all alumni to take advantage of programs and resources at AUB, to mentor our current students, and engage with their alma mater throughout their lifetimes, helping to foster more abundant lives for all.
Fadlo R. Khuri, MD