American Univesity of Beirut


Dear friends and colleagues in the AUB community,

I sincerely hope your 2017 has started well and that you have enjoyed some rest and restoration
during the holiday period. I personally observed the importance of taking pause and spending time
with those who matter most by seeing in the New Year in Oman with my family. Indeed I managed
to switch off almost entirely (apart from a few low-pressure vacation tweets). Of the 50 or so
countries around the world that I have passed through, Oman with its natural wonders and
delightful, diligent inhabitants is surely one of the most rewarding. I cannot say I returned to Beirut
having banished fatigue, because in all honesty I have never felt more energized than I have been
over the last 17 months, despite my relentless schedule—I felt constantly refreshed by a sense of
purpose to serve AUB and by the colleagues around me who were there in the morning to help
raise the shutters and still there in the evening, after a hard day’s work, ready to close the shutters
with me. Now we are ready to fully engage all over again.

BOLDLY forward


Today is certainly another landmark day for AUB. This evening we launch our capital campaign,
which has been dubbed BOLDLY AUB: The Campaign to Lead, Innovate, and Serve. We think this
name neatly encapsulates our strategic goals of expanding AUB’s achievement and influence as a
place of academic excellence, dedicated to serving communities and educating the next 
generation of citizen leaders whom we equip as best as we can to make our world a better place.
With it we aim to raise over $500M in philanthropic donations to the University’s coffers. No
doubt this is a very arduous target, but we think our mission—to educate the best and brightest
young scholars, regardless of ability to pay, to develop transformative research that can impact the
economies of Lebanon and the Arab world, and to model a fair and just society for this region—is
so important it is essential for us to aim high. And the phenomenal momentum which has been
generated in the past year with new initiatives and dynamism, plus a very successful 150th
anniversary calendar, means it is just the right time to start. Rest assured, we shall be fully
transparent and accountable throughout, and every penny will be spent judiciously in open
consultation with all our constituencies, with our top priority set as sustainability in all areas—
intellectual, environmental, financial. I will keep you updated of developments via this platform
and if you have any questions about the campaign or suggestions for fundraising opportunities,
the Office of Advancement would be very pleased to hear from you.

Signing off the anniversary


This ought to be my last sesquicentennial reference, but I cannot leave the topic without mentioning two outstanding projects which came to fruition in the last days of 2016. Our alumnus and a great servant of Lebanon, Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, commissioned a limitededition set of five silver commemorative coins to mark our anniversary and celebrate AUB’s major role in the advancement of knowledge and its cultural and economic contribution to the
development of Lebanon and the MENA region. The 3D designs are frankly stunning, capturing the
essence of five unique AUB locations—Main Gate, College Hall, Green Field, Lee Observatory and
Assembly Hall—in exquisite form and detail. It was a great honor to receive the first set of coins on
behalf of the University from Governor Salameh in his office at the Banque Du Liban, but I also
made sure to invest in sets for my family of this very valuable souvenir. The net proceeds will go to
fund a special 150th anniversary endowed scholarship fund; please contact the Office of Advancement for more details. 

Toni Oyry and Dr. Lina Daouk Oyry at the Cinemacity premier

On December 20, many of our community and friends gathered to see the premier of a specially
commissioned 150th anniversary documentary film, On the Edge of Time–The Story of AUB, at a
gala evening at the Cinemacity in Beirut Souks just before Christmas. This 41-minute masterpiece
was directed by journalism and digital media instructor Toni Oyry, who divides his time between
AUB and running a cutting-edge video production company in Beirut. You will perhaps have seen
Toni, topped off with his trademark newsboy cap, and his film crew in action, scampering around
during great university events capturing them for posterity. Over the past year, they have
assembled a very inspiring library of footage of our spectacular environment and proceedings, as
well as conducting a series of revealing, beautifully shot interviews with some of our greatest living
personalities. The result is a film which soars exhilaratingly through 150 years of AUB history,
brilliantly using archive stills and clips to tell a remarkable story of resilience, service and
excellence. I want to thank everyone who worked so hard on this project and for those who
missed the premier I hope you get the chance to catch one of the showings that we will be
advertising on campus soon.

Engaging our neighbors

Mona El Hallak has devoted twenty odd years to preserving Beit Beirut

I would like to finish by welcoming on board the new director of the Neighborhood Initiative,
Mona El Hallak, who takes over from the founding director, Cynthia Myntti this month. We are
very fortunate to have in Mona a remarkable and resolute advocate of the causes of urban
renewal and heritage preservation to lead this presidential initiative, which is so important in
letting AUB continue to blend into its surroundings as a beneficial neighbor. It is vital that this
University uses its influence and expertise to add to the rich texture of life in Ras Beirut rather than
disregarding or eclipsing it. Mona is already well-known and widely renowned at AUB, an architect
who graduated as one of our remarkable class of 1990, who is universally admired for her visionary effort to save the Barakat Building from the developers’ bulldozers and remold it into Beit Beirut, a people’s museum of reconnection and reconciliation for this city. That feat has taken her the best part of 20 years and her unstinting labor of love to preserve this delicate urban gem is an example to all of us of what it is to adhere to a task and see it through regardless of the obstacles. In doing so she has achieved something truly transformative for all of Beirut on the detritus of the former Green Line. We look forward to witnessing that determination and passionate advocacy as Mona turns her attention to the civic neglect and uglification taking place all too evidently on our own doorstep. I am sure she will find many partners among our community ready to help meet these challenges and we wish her every success.

Best regards,

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD

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