Dear friends and colleagues of the AUB community,
The American University of Beirut has more than 74,000 living
alumni, spread across more than 115 countries. Prior to the pandemic and Lebanon's major crises, more than three-fourths resided in Lebanon. While a significant number have now left, the majority remain connected to the country and maintain a positive relationship with their university. A quote attributed to everyone from John Burroughs to Oscar Wilde, which remains true no matter its origins, says: “The smallest deed is better than the greatest intention." Our alumni are doers of deeds, well prepared by the university and by life to make a difference.
Historically, our alumni have been particularly prominent in the fields of academia, medicine, and healthcare, earning global recognition as renowned scientists and celebrated doctors. Our graduates make their mark across the public and private sectors, as parliamentarians and ambassadors, business executives, and university leaders. They transform neighborhoods, raise families, care for neighbors, and build communities. Many graduates have gone on to establish successful companies such as Instabeat, founded by Hind Hobeika (BE '10); LittleBits, founded by Aya Bdeir (BE '04); RoadieTuner, founded by Bassam Jalgha (BE '08, ME '11) and Hassane Slaibi (BE '09);
The Little Engineer, founded by Rana El Chemaitelly (BE '93, ME '08); and Yamli, founded by Habib Haddad (BE '02). We also count among our alumni a number of prominent digital influencers, from fashion entrepreneurs Nour Arida (BA '11) and Karen Wazen (BBA '08) to media consultant and celebrity judge Ali Jaber (BBA '84).
“Our alumni are doers of deeds, well prepared by the university and by life to make a difference."
Thanks to our alumni, the university played a singular role in the establishment of the United Nations. Five signed the UN Charter: Fadel Jamali (BA 1927) for Iraq; Charles Malek (BA 1927) for Lebanon; Faris al-Khoury (BA 1897), Naim al-Antaki (former student 1924), and Nazem al-Koudsi (former student 1920) for Syria. More than 20 attended the San Francisco Conference in 1945 that resulted in the creation of the United Nations as delegates, assistant delegates, advisers, and observers. Over the last 155 years, many have stepped up to help lead newly independent, struggling, and even established nations (Syria, Sudan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Afghanistan, to name a few).
Their passion for making a difference in the lives of people marks them out as graduates of the American University of Beirut, who have taken to heart the words they saw inscribed on the Main Gate as they entered their alma mater daily, “That they may have life and have it more abundantly." This is a university that implants deep roots in its community, triggering many to give back and even return to the institution that helped transform their lives, in order to help transform those of others.
“Their passion for making a difference in the lives of people marks them out as graduates of the American University of Beirut…"
This desire to give back can be seen by alumni contributing to the successful
BOLDLY capital campaign—a campaign that exceeded its target of $650 million and counting—with more than 65 percent of donations coming from alumni as diverse as trustees, heads of foundations,
alumni chapters, and individuals. And yet our graduates want more from their university than the occasional recognition, update, or opportunity to donate. While they appreciate those opportunities and are generous and very much attuned to the American University of Beirut's triumphs and challenges, they are determined also to make a difference by being connected to their alma mater. We look to them to be our ambassadors around the globe, our wise counsel at home, and our partners in support of students. We rely on the Worldwide Alumni Association of AUB (WAAAUB)—its global Alumni Advisory Board, its Chapters Council, and its general secretary, and our
AUB alumni relations team to make sure the communication flows freely between alumni and their alma mater.
AUB Alumni Mentoring Platform is a powerful online tool that makes it possible to have one-on-one career consultations among alumni. We have recently added a “Job Listings" section, closely coordinated with the
AUB Career Hub, to help during these challenging economic times–especially to encourage our accomplished AUB diaspora to aid and guide graduating seniors and recent graduates.
AUB Alumni Mobile App was officially launched in April 2020 and is the easiest way for alumni to stay in touch with AUB–and other alumni. It provides information about upcoming events on campus, recent news about AUB and other alumni, employment opportunities, and useful links. We also have a very active presence on social media platforms.
The early uptake of these apps and the hunger for AUB online offerings, be they courses, diplomas, executive education, or even reunions, where 2016–19 saw annual alumni attendance go up year on year, show the extent to which our alumni carry their alma mater in their hearts and minds. They are, for the most part, unusually engaged, doggedly idealistic, and deeply opinionated on the fate and direction of their alma mater. Our alumni wish to support their university, financially and otherwise, but they want a seat at the table in determining its destiny. In fact, they do have a seat at the table, with three alumni-elected members of the Board of Trustees, as well as a very active and influential WAAAUB Advisory Board,
elections for which are happening now. They are rarely shy about asserting their points of view, as I can repeatedly attest. That is far preferable to the alternative, one where university alumni write checks but disengage, asking to be left alone.
“The early uptake of these apps and the hunger for AUB online offerings … show the extent to which our alumni carry their alma mater in their hearts and minds."
After all, our alumni carry with them the deep conviction that there can and must be a better world, one where the best and brightest come together “without distinction in regard to nationality or religion" to build just, inclusive, and fair societies for all. This level of engagement has only grown during the pandemic, as alumni have stepped up to donate time, effort, and funds, and as evidenced by the outstanding engagement at
AUB's Fundraising Dinner and the
North American Chapter Leadership Retreat in New York in November 2021, and the
upcoming reunion in Orange County, California, over this weekend of February 18–20.
The 21st century's version of relationships with one's alma mater is one in which responsibilities are shared in building a better and more inclusive world. In service to the university as members of the Board of Trustees, alumni chapters, on the faculty, or as lifelong learners through continued engagement with their university, our alumni rarely lose sight of their AUB. The brave new world has ushered in a new kind of relationship between great universities and their alumni, an Alma Mater 2.0, where engagement, participation, and accountability are mutually expected. Our AUB alumni engagement is therefore a strong sign of things to come and an indication that the American University of Beirut community is once more leading from the front. As we explore ways and means to make our university more sustainable and impactful on Lebanon, the region, and the world, our alumni remain fully engaged, far from passengers, but rather active participants in this existential journey. We wouldn't have it any other way.
“The brave new world has ushered in a new kind of relationship between great universities and their alumni, an Alma Mater 2.0, where engagement, participation, and accountability are mutually expected.”
Fadlo R. Khuri, MD