Dear friends and colleagues of the AUB community,
Celebrating excellence of teachers
I would like to congratulate two outstanding teachers who received this year's Teaching Excellence Awards, as well as all the past and future winners of this prestigious accolade. Great teaching is a cornerstone of AUB's global reputation and we are fortunate to have superb educators across all disciplines at this university. Exposure to a brilliant teacher changes people and leaves an impression that lasts a lifetime. It kindles a thirst for learning, an excitement about different fields of study, and a duty to share your own knowledge with future generations. These annual awards demonstrate AUB's commitment to teaching as a scholarly endeavor and incentivize faculty members to enhance their abilities as teachers. The 2018-19 winners take their deserved place among a glittering
roll call of names going back to 2002-03.
Joseph Costantine teaches a subject that is far from being the most popular in most schools of engineering, applied electromagnetics. However, by using a human-centered teaching approach with a focus on startup opportunities, and a demeanor that engenders passion and curiosity in his students, electromagnetics has become a course that students actively look forward to. He is the recipient of many awards including three consecutive summer fellowships at the Space Vehicles Directorate in Albuquerque, and has published many research papers and patents on reconfigurable antennas for wireless communication systems, cognitive radio, radio frequency systems for wireless energy harvesting, antennas for biomedical applications, and deployable antennas for small satellites.
Bilal Orfali is a prolific scholar of Arabic literature, Sufism, and Koranic studies and star of one of AUB's oldest and most impactful departments, the
Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages. He is renowned for being a most demanding teacher, pushing others to expand their boundaries, yet also one of the most supportive towards students and fellow faculty alike. In his nomination, a colleague cited the story of one distressed engineering student whose graduation was in jeopardy because he had failed so badly in Arabic. After advising the student to incorporate his passion for programming while retaking the course—working on an computer code that laid the groundwork for electronic identification of the complex meters of Arabic verse, no less—the student came back with a solid A, won a programing prize, completed an internship with Google to develop Arabic computational content, and returned to AUB asking to major in Arabic.
Tales of transformation abound in the classroom, the advisor's office, and thanks to excellence in course and curriculum design. As evinced by Dr. Orfali's influence on the despairing programmer, the transformative teacher connects with their students as individuals and relishes every encounter, creating an asymmetrical relationship that is founded not on power but mutual respect and appreciation. Teachers—like ideas—can change the world, and frequently do so. Here's to all the outstanding teachers of AUB! You are the heirs of a millennia-old profession upon which all human achievement rests and AUB is very proud of each of you.
MEMA's golden jubilee
This year we had the golden opportunity of celebrating the 50th edition of the
Middle East Medical Assembly (MEMA)—the oldest and largest multidisciplinary medical conference in the region. The first international medical conference was held at AUB back in 1911, but the modern history of MEMA began in 1950 with the first Middle East Tropical Disease Symposium. This was such a resounding success that the faculty decided to hold an annual conference on different themes. Sometimes these themes took a cue from world events, such as “Space Age Medicine" in 1961, the year Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. After MEMA's silver jubilee in 1975, the civil war made it impossible to hold these gatherings until 1988. But MEMA came back stronger than ever and continues to blaze a trail of innovation and impact.
What has made
MEMA stand out over its long history is its unwavering multidisciplinary focus. There are now a plethora of professional societies holding conferences in Lebanon and the region devoted to their specialties. But the differentiation of MEMA reflects the reality of patient care in which doctors, nurses, and medical technicians must operate in a hospital setting as a collaborative, multidisciplinary team.
Picking a theme that is relevant to people from widely divergent fields is never simple, but if we know anything about our medical staff, they are always up for a challenge! This year's MEMA centered on the perioperative multidisciplinary care of the high-risk surgical patient. A fascinating topic of interest to a wide range of specialties, it has to do with the continuum from the initial decision to do surgery, through the surgery itself, and the recovery period.
A fantastic job was done by the 50th MEMA chair, Dr. Jamal Hoballah, and chair of the Scientific Committee, Dr. Marie Aouad Maroun. They put together a superb program of 66 speakers, with around 50 coming from prestigious universities in the US and Europe. This is a real boon for our medical students and residents as they have the opportunity to interact with international experts in a variety of fields. In addition, these experts see the quality of education and patient care at AUB and in turn are more likely to recommend our students for residencies at their own institutions.
This year's assembly ended on a high note with a memorable evening gala organized by the Social Committee, headed by Rihab Uri, with all proceeds going to support medical students with financial needs. In addition to the amazing work done by the MEMA committees, the Continuing Medical Education office dealt with all logistics, with great thanks to Dalya Nehme. Another successful MEMA and an impressive milestone reached that we have every reason to be proud of. Here's looking forward to seeing you next year at MEMA 2020!
Continuing Education's groundbreaking accreditation
Congratulations to the
Continuing Education Center (CEC) at the
Office of Regional External Programs (REP) which has been granted an initial three-year accreditation for all programs by the
Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET) in Washington, the first such accreditation to be awarded to a MENA university. Accredited
CEC programs include 31 professional certificates and nine professional diplomas, which fall in eight categories of Business and Management, Cultural and Humanitarian Studies, Education, Fine Arts, Foreign Languages, Health Care (Soft Skills), Media and Communications, and Science and Technology.
CEC programs are designed to meet the lifelong educational and training needs of adult learners at all professional and educational levels, including people who may have a bachelor's, master's or even a PhD degree. Harnessing the expertise of AUB's seven faculties and schools, CEC has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade from an annual student count of 700 to more than 2,000 today, and it now plays an important role in AUB's commitment to serve the local and regional community.
ACCET's mission is to advocate for continuing education and training and to ensure the quality of the products on offer. Through the establishment of standards and assurances of an accreditation process focused on integrity, it seeks to identify, evaluate, and enhance the delivery of continuing education and training. ACCET has been officially recognized by the US Department of Education as a “reliable authority" on the quality of education or training provided by the institution of higher education and the programs they accredit."
Needless to say, the exhaustive
ACCET accreditation process confers an international hallmark for the high quality of our CEC programs as well as CEC instructors, management, and staff. Among the many benefits of accreditation is that international Continuing Education Units are granted to CEC students which have equivalence globally at ACCET-accredited entities, which places CEC programs at a higher level than thousands of training centers and colleges across the region.
To conclude, I would like to recognize the leadership of VP for REP Hassan Diab, Director Ziad Shaaban and
the CEC team, and their commitment to this endeavor over the past two years, as well as all CEC instructors. I also would like to acknowledge the support of all other members of the Office of REP. A new chapter has started in the life of CEC, REP, and AUB in its mission to support lifelong learning and professional programs.
Fadlo R. Khuri, MD