American Univesity of Beirut

​​​​​​​​Dear friends and colleagues of the AUB community,  


On June 9, 10, and 11, 2022, after a year full of triumphs and challenges, the American University of Beirut graduated one of its largest classes on the iconic Green Field. For the first time since June 2019, before crises roiled Lebanon and the world, our students marched and claimed their degrees with their parents and loved ones seated behind them. 



 

After a year full of triumphs and challenges, the American University of Beirut graduated one of its largest classes on the iconic Green Field.​​”​

Twenty members of our Board of Trustees and more than 100 faculty members graced the stage along with four monumentally accomplished and diverse recipients of the first honorary doctorates that AUB has granted since 2019: Mona Hanna-Attisha, pediatrician and champion for social justice and environmental integrity; Hanna Nasir, iconic founder and longtime president of Birzeit University and paragon of Palestinian nationalism; Daniel Dennett, transcendent philosopher, humanist, and thought leader in pursuing some of the fundamental questions that occupy mankind including free will and artificial intelligence; and Ouided Bouchamaoui, 2015 Nobel Laureate in Peace and brave Tunisian business leader who helped forge a path towards inclusive democracy for her country. Each of the four delivered a message of hope and purpose for our students, sending them forth with examples of determination and empowerment, and a fifth, Roy Vagelos, world class philanthropist, scholar, physician, mentor, and industry pioneer, who will receive his honorary doctorate in Boston on October 1 at the WAAAUB Annual Alumni Convention.



 

Each of the four [honorands] delivered a message of hope and purpose for our students, sending them forth with examples of determination and empowerment.”​​

Over the course of three magnificent evenings under the stars, 1,930 students received their degrees in person. In addition to our honorands, our three student speakers rose to the occasion in their addresses, describing differing but ultimately convergent journeys of struggle, triumph, and hope. 



Amani Al Bayrakdar, one of AUB’s first two doctoral students in nursing, captured the imagination with an extraordinarily inspiring address on Thursday, June 9, describing her voyage from undergraduate student to clinical nurse champion, to scholar advocate, across almost three decades in a moving and empowering evocation of what AUB means to its community. Julia Zaydan, 2022 Faculty of Health Sciences Penrose Award winner and member of the first graduating class in health communications at AUB, uplifted spirits on June 10 by annotating the winding path of the Class of 2022, from the October 17, 2019, Lebanese uprising through the pandemic and Beirut Blast all the way through their ultimately triumphant return to campus on October 1, 2021, describing some of what they have accomplished in their time at AUB. Finally, MSFEA graduate Elie El Khawand captivated the audience on June 11 with what his AUB education meant to him and the myriad challenges he and his family had to overcome in order to attend and complete his college education with flying colors, as an analogy for all the Class of 2022 endured and achieved in the direst of circumstances. Elie quoted Aristotle to indicate that excellence, far from a mere act, is in the nature of the AUB community.


In my seventh commencement address, a mere trickle in the mighty roar that is AUB's 156 years of sustained excellence and purpose, I sought to remind our students that no matter how bittersweet the parting, their bonds with their alma mater would prove far more tensile than they could imagine, that these ties that bind all of us to the magnificent American University of Beirut will prove unbreakable. I reminded them that more than 75,000 engaged alumni waited to welcome them to their ranks. Quoting the opening lines from one of the greatest laments of all Abu al-Baqa' al-Rundi's Ritha' al-Andalus, written expressly for the 13th century fall of Seville, one of Andalusia's greatest cities to the Spanish Reconquista, al-Rundi wrote:​


"لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ إِذَا مَا تَمَّ نُقْصَانُ              فَلَا يُغَرَّ بِطِيبِ العَيْشِ إنْسَانُ

هِيَ الأمُورُ كَمَا شَاهَدْتُهَا دُوَلٌ           مَنْ سَرَّهُ زَمَنٌ سَاءتْهُ أزْمَانُ"


 

I sought to remind our students that no matter how bittersweet the parting, their bonds with their alma mater would prove far more tensile than they could imagine.”​

I evoked that bittersweet sense of loss that al-Rundi and others have felt to remind our students that al-Rundi’s words offer more than a lament. They are also a reminder to the masters of the moment that time is ephemeral, that, as the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. stated in 1968 at the National Cathedral in Washington DC, just a few weeks before he was assassinated: “The arc of the moral universe bends towards justice.” 


Our responsibility as members of the AUB community is to strive purposely, to ensure that the arc of the moral universe indeed continues to bend towards justice. This determination to serve a higher purpose, our fidelity to our mission and our pursuit of excellence for its own sake but also for the greater good, forge the unbreakable ties that bind us all to AUB. On this memorable occasion in which we celebrate the graduations of more than 2,500 AUB ambassadors of change, let us commit together that through this powerful sense of community and these resolute ties, we and our communities will ultimately protect, persist, and prevail in our struggle for a better, fairer, more inclusive world.

 

Our responsibility as members of the AUB community is to strive purposely, to ensure that the arc of the moral universe indeed continues to bend towards justice.”​




Best regards,

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD

President​​​​


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