American Univesity of Beirut

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

Magnet mark of nursing excellence

The 19th century English social reformer and founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, attributed her success to never offering—or accepting—excuses. “When a disaster happens, I act and they make excuses," she wrote. Like other health disciplines, the science of nursing has been transformed since Victorian times, but the truth that you must keep improving and learning at every opportunity is unchanging. Having once again being awarded Magnet re-designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) last month, the nursing staff of AUBMC have proved yet again they stand as exemplars in this most noble, caring, and vigilant of professions.

Any reputable certification adds value and AUB and its Medical Center boast a compendium of landmark international accreditations that highlight the global standards our university attains. But Magnet is a particularly relevant mark of excellence. AUBMC is the first Magnet designated center in the region—and only the third outside the US—to receive this recognition three times. With fewer than one-in-12 hospitals in the US being credentialed, each undergoing a rigorous four-year re-designation cycle requiring intensive engagement, Magnet recognition places its recipients at the very top of nursing practice.

The ANCC Magnet Recognition Program approach relies on independent quarterly patient surveys, clinical outcomes data, research standards, and annual staff surveys, all benchmarked against elite US institutions. A majority of units must individually outperform at majority of time, setting a high bar for Magnet applicants. Surveys carried out show that more than two-thirds of departments consistently surpass this standard—an extraordinary achievement. Following Florence Nightingale's example, there are no excuses for units who underperform but dedicated efforts to identify shortcomings and take action to sustain the highest levels of excellence.

We are fortunate indeed to have such an outstanding corps of 1,500 nursing professionals and an outstanding nursing leadership at AUBMC, offering world-beating levels of care that our patients deserve. Achieving this starts with outstanding nursing leadership led by AUBMC Chief Nursing Officer Iman Kouatly, involves recruiting the most talented applicants, including graduates from our cutting-edge Hariri School of Nursing, and inducting them in a system that provides continuous training, with inclusive self-governance and quality assurance, against a backdrop of first-class clinical research and innovation. On behalf of the whole AUB community, not least the patients cared for in our medical facilities, I would like to extend our hearty congratulations and sincere thanks to Iman Kouatly, Interim Hospital Director Ziyad Ghazzal, and all who enabled AUBMC's third Magnet re-designation and doubtless more to come.


iPark boost to Lebanon and the region

Four years in the making, the Talal and Madiha Zein AUB Innovation Park (AUB-iPark) inauguration on September 2 was an occasion that promises to elevate and diversify the Lebanese economy and drive healthier societal growth. This bold vision stems from the reality that the AUB-iPark is there to support faculty, staff, students, and partners seeking to develop innovative ideas into profitable and scalable startups. A unique off-campus facility located in the heart of the Beirut Digital District (BDD), the AUB-iPark positions us at the heart of Lebanon's emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem that is so important in building a better future in this region.


The challenges are not to be underestimated. Nearly two thirds of the MENA population is under 25, and fewer than five percent of those who leave to study abroad come back to contribute to the knowledge economy here. But circumstances fostered by the AUB-iPark will provide opportunities for the best and brightest young people to stay in Lebanon, to innovate and experiment, and to enrich their lives and the lives of those around them.


The AUB-iPark joins a suite of complementary university assets dedicated to the creation of new ideas to build a more vibrant and sustainable economy in Lebanon and the region. The Samih Darwazah Center for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at OSB holds an annual student innovation contest that has given birth to many a successful graduate career. The Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture offers an undergraduate track in entrepreneurship that includes hackathons, coursework, internships and seed funding for technological advances. The Center for Research and Innovation (CRInn) provides students, faculty, and alumni with training programs, mentorship and networking opportunities, workshops and media exposure, serving more than 1,500 students and dozens of faculty so far, with 19 startups coming into being through this support.

The substantial generosity and vision of the Zein family, and the tireless work of the AUB-iPark executive director-designate, Dr. Salim Chahine, takes these contributions towards entrepreneurship to the next level, bringing together an experiential educational platform, a much-needed research window, and access to sources of venture capital. The iPark ho​nors the late Talal Zein, a charismatic and widely respected visionary business leader who embodied the entrepreneurial spirit for which this region is famous. Our sincere thanks to Mrs. Madiha Zein who was his partner in life and business and who now immortalizes his legacy with this transformative gift. 

The AUB-iPark team is now preparing for town hall meetings to share plans with the community at large and will soon launch a series of university-wide multi-disciplinary programs. They have already started their search for ideas, startups, and curious individuals interested in collaboration opportunities. If you are interested, you can either fill out an AUB-iPark incubation form or request an office hours appointment to visit the facility at BDD and meet the team.


Renovated Penrose Hall raises bar for student accommodation

The day after the AUB-iPark launch saw an unforgettable lunchtime gathering of scholars, trustees, technical experts, and friends of AUB under the trees behind Bliss Hall to celebrate the re-dedication of the Penrose Hall, following its extensive renovation. Along with the many innovations and improvements, the dormitory is now ​Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certified, with six ADA-compliant rooms for students with special needs and new light-filled study spaces and student lounges.

The building is named for Dr. Stephen Pe​nrose, AUB's fourth president, who profoundly deserves this honor—in addition to his immortalization through the annual Penrose Awards—for his many extraordinary contributions to this university's ascendancy after World War 2. What made the re-dedication particularly poignant was the presence of President Penrose's two surviving children, the older of whom had not returned to her childhood home since the premature death of her father in 1954.

“Words do not adequately reflect how humbling it is to stand here again, with my sister Margaret Dale and my daughter Kate," Stephen Penrose III said to the assembled guests. “My gratitude is beyond measure. In this audience is a schoolmate of mine from Beirut days, AUB Professor David Kurani. Also with us is an emeritus professor, Makhlouf Haddadin, who, I learned just last evening, as a sophomore at AUB, carried flowers in our father's funeral procession. You cannot imagine what a moving day this is for us."

Among the guests were the staff from the FPDU led by Bassem Barhoumi and contractors who transformed the building, and a large cohort of past Penrose Award winners from each faculty, generations of AUB graduates who most exemplified outstanding scholarship, character, leadership, and contribution to university life.

It was humbling to be reminded of the many “firsts" that Dr. Penrose accomplished in his eventful six years at the helm of AUB, among them: the establishment of a school of engineering in 1951; a school of agriculture, and the opening of a farm in the Beqaa Valley (AREC), in 1952; and the establishment of a school of public health in 1954, not to mention the appointment of the first female faculty member, Lebanese nuclear physicist Dr. Salwa Nassar.​

My wife Lamya and I opened Marquand House to Dale and Steve so they could renew memories of their childhood haunts, from the back yard to their bedrooms. Dale Penrose Harrell wrote a thank you note saying, "After 64 years, I realized that AUB was still 'home'. Everyone we met made us feel so special and welcome. Wandering the campus was wonderful as even the trees we used to climb seemed to welcome us. So many strangers turned into dear friends…they were special family and will always remain so."

As students re-enter the beautiful new Penrose Hall after two years of renovations, I am reminded of Stephen Jr.'s words at the rededication ceremony, “My father loved AUB and was absolutely dedicated to providing opportunities for its students in a rapidly changing world. That Penrose Hall has been, and will be hereafter, a home for students of many cultures, faiths, and interests would please him greatly." ​

Best regards,

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD


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