American University of Beirut


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

Writing for success
Is it not a remarkable paradox that writing is such an essential component of human civilization, yet many parents and educators pay little heed to it once a child has learnt to spell out their first words or read out a sentence from a book? In the US, where the teaching of writing is a common occurrence, students enter higher education with broadly similar levels of competency, but in the Arab world that is not the case. We see significant discrepancies in language focus and content focus, with varying expectations of how information should be presented in written form. Yet most employers rate communication skills among the highest priorities in recruitment. In Lebanon we see households and workplaces where three, even four, languages are spoken interchangeably, so ambiguity about the concept of a mother tongue adds to our predicament.

Fortunately, AUB boasts world-class writing and communications skills programs to uncover and tackle the specificities of our context, in partnership with other universities and the school system. Last month, saw the latest successful iteration of the Annual Symposium on the Teaching of Writing, organized by the Communication Skills Program (CSP) in the Department of English, which is held in collaboration each year with different partner university, this year the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK). The symposium is the brainchild of CSP instructor Malakeh Khoury, who with her dedicated core committee has grown the event over five years to be a major attraction on the teaching calendar. This year's theme was “Writing Across the Curriculum and Technology" drawing more than 150 educators from 15 universities and 14 private and public schools, as well as representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education. They left armed with new tools and inspired by new ideas to implement best practice in areas such as error correction, marking rubrics, feedback, and digital storytelling.


The keynote was given by Dr. Erin Zimmerman, director of the Writing Center (WrC) in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and of its Writing in the Disciplines Program which offers support for all faculty across AUB to develop curricula and teach writing in disciplinary contexts. WrC also offers consultations to anyone interested in improving their writing skills, with individual tutoring or workshops. She underlined the importance of exchanging ideas and experience among teachers and trying to understand how different students are taught in different settings, in order to see the challenges they sometimes face in articulating arguments, synthesizing evidence, and other key competencies. 

Writing is the primary tool of learning—it does not stop once you have learned how to write! There is some merit to the argument that if you cannot articulate an idea you do not fully understand it. Certainly writing gives you the best opportunity to navigate your understanding of a concept, to process prioritize ideas and questions, not to mention to remember them for use at another time. Written responses in class are more considered and coherent than their verbal counterparts. The act of writing is as essential in STEM fields as the humanities. As Dr. Zimmerman is fond of reminding us, if you are going to cross a bridge you had better have confidence the civil engineer who built it was able to articulate in writing with absolute precision what needs to happen for that bridge to carry your weight! My hope and expectation is that our specialists in Communication Skills and the Writing Center are putting AUB on track to be the center of excellence in the writing in English in the Arab world, and, with the addition of new tutors this year, in Arabic as well 

Essential role of internal auditing
Did you know that May is designated as International Internal Audit Awareness Month? You are not alone if you did not, but—even though the month has now passed—this does give us a perfect opportunity to draw your attention to the essential role internal auditing plays in strong organizational governance, internal control, and effective risk management. Our Office of Internal Audit (OIA) provides independent, objective assurance and advice on AUB's governance, risk management, and control processes with the goal of helping the university achieve its strategic, operational, financial, and compliance objectives through a systematic and disciplined approach. OIA is founded on a commitment to integrity and accountability in everything it does, while being an independent source of objective advice.

OIA is a key catalyst for to improve AUB's effectiveness and efficiency by providing insight and recommendations based on analyses and assessments of data, business processes, and reporting. It also reviews organizational ethics and compliance to AUB policies and procedures, laws, standards, and contractual agreements. The internal audit team, led by interim co-university auditors Mohammad Shehab and Saad Majari, have the competencies and in-depth understanding of the organization's culture, systems, and processes to help senior management and the Board of Trustees fulfill their governance and oversight responsibilities by providing assurance about the effectiveness of internal controls. To gain better understanding of their functions, in collaboration with Human Resources, we have introduced a new awareness session called “The role of Internal Audit in the organization" open to the whole community.

As a final note I would like to remind you that all representatives of AUB have an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the university's Principles of Ethical Conduct and Code of Business Ethics. Please report any conduct that does not meet these standards, violates applicable laws or regulations, or violates university policies or procedures, using the safe reporting link which guarantees confidentiality to the extent possible of anyone witnessing such conduct.

Night to celebrate our athletes
One of my favorite occasions of the year, which I know I share with Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nezameddin, is the night in April/May when AUB Sports gather all the varsity teams together for a joyous celebration of their achievements during the fall and spring terms, known as Athletes' Night. During the event last week, we honored distinguished student athletes in a number of categories, with most Valuable Player (MVP) awards in each of 29 categories of men's and women's sports from archery to water polo, the female and male athletes of the year—Lyn Abu El Hasan and Rami Saade--and special men's and women's awards for leadership, commitment, sportsmanship, and sports media (ensuring results and photos are shared on social platforms). 

It has been such a great year for AUB Sports, both in team spirit and results, that the Coach of the Year could not be awarded to a single outstanding coach, and it was given to all AUB coaches in a very popular decision by our legendary director of sport, Ghaleb Halimi. Another popular and emotional award, the Special Recognition Award 2018, went to Rola Khatib (below), the tireless and long-serving manager of the women's volleyball team, who is also patron of the Sara Khatib's Cancer and Amputation Association, named after her daughter who passed away on September 5 2014, age 22, promoting health and wellbeing for young people with disabilities and their families. 

A roll-call of the different sports successes highlighted the fact that 2017-18 has been, as Mr. Halimi acclaimed in his speech, the “year of women's sport" at AUB. Our teams won their league in futsal, rugby league, tennis, track, and volleyball, and in the interuniversity basketball cup. Our men triumphed in the tennis and swimming leagues and at junior varsity league-level in basketball, football, and rugby league. Our archers and junior varsity footballers also won their respective cups. There are still two interuniversity cup finals to come featuring AUB teams, in men's and women's futsal. Watch out for game day details on the AUB Sports webpage

Congratulations go not just to these players, but to all the AUB athletes who have committed themselves in the sports field while fulfilling their exacting academic requirements at the same time. In the same vein, it was my great pleasure to present distinguished scholar awards to help pay tuition for three female and three male athletes who have excelled in their athletic achievements while at the same time maintaining the highest academic grades. As all of these awards were given out to their typically modest recipients, it was remarkable to see the ecstatic reaction of their friend and team mates in the audience as their names were called out. Truly the Corinthian spirit is in great shape down at the Hostler Student Center and among its inhabitants.

​Best regards,

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD


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