American Univesity of Beirut


Dear friends and colleagues in the AUB community,

Voting and citizenship

I am very proud and excited about the prospect of student
elections taking place tomorrow at AUB. As Dean of Student
Affairs Dr. Talal Nizameddin has rightly said, you and your
predecessors—as candidates, campaigners and voters—have
cultivated an excellent reputation for upholding competitive,
yet peaceful, democratic expression on this campus. Your
participation in an election that is 100% free and fairer than
ever is admired not just by our own wider AUB community,
but given the singular circumstances under which you vote, it
reverberates far and wide. Journalists who follow this great university, from some of the world’s most respected publications, will be watching closely.

I need hardly say that democracy is in crisis today, even in the most developed political systems, let alone in our region, where it is little more than a theoretical construct, a distant vision. I would say therefore that AUB students can and will be a shining example of democratic participation for established politicians and their loyalist supporters to follow. In the same breath, I join Dean Nizameddin in cautioning that no action should be taken which might undermine AUB’s reputation; any misbehavior could be amplified beyond recognition, and take away from the achievement and honor that you as students will gain through this election process. Harvard Professor Michael
Sandel eloquently summed up Aristotle’s view of democracy in a recent lecture at Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall. “The point of democracy, he thought, was to create a setting in which citizens will deliberate with one another as equals, and, in deliberating, they would learn something and will become better citizens and better human beings than they would otherwise be.” As citizens of AUB, and future citizens of the world, please participate and take heed of this significant moment in your lives. So let me finish by saying good luck to all the candidates! Let everyone enjoy the exhilarating experience of spirited debate and open-minded deliberation of the arguments. Our
administration is looking forward to working with your elected representatives.

Impacting global health

In an unprecedented development assigning the University a
high-profile role on the global stage, The Lancet—one of the
world’s most respected health and medical journals— has
asked AUB’s Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) to lead a new
global Commission on Syria. This will be the first time one of
The Lancet’s high-impact global health investigations is being
hosted in the region. The Commission will be co-chaired by
Dean Iman Nuwayhid and Associate Professor of Public Health Practice Dr. Samer Jabbour of FHS, along with Professor Jennifer Leaning of the Harvard School of Public Health. The first Commission meeting is scheduled to take place at AUB on December 1-2, 2016.

Alongside the terrible destruction and human suffering we have seen in Syria since
2011, Dean Nuwayhid has written that the conflict has held up a mirror to the
shortcomings of the global response to the Syria crisis. “Whether it is the fall of the
doctrine of the responsibility to protect civilians, the failure to safeguard health facilities
and personnel, the mismanagement of the refugee challenge, or the pitfalls of the
humanitarian aid regime, many issues in the Syria crisis have reflected global problems
that are, or should be, at the heart of global health.” By uncovering these failures, the
Commission can point the way towards a better future not just for Syria but other
centers of crisis, addressing the areas of greatest need and how to improve them for
the long haul. A distinguished group of high-profile Commissioners will be supported by
multidisciplinary groups of experts, thinkers and practitioners and an international
Secretariat based at AUB. Beside the major report, the Commission will gather research
and publish background papers on selected themes to feed into its work. This is a huge
task for AUB, but with a regional advantage, global outreach and institutional work on
issues connected with the Syria crisis, FHS and AUB are well positioned to lead this

Education for life

AUB aspires to create a culture of lifelong learning, including among the increasing proportion of our population in Lebanon and the broader Arab world who wish to engage in this at an adult age. Towards the end of last month I was delighted to be able to attend the fifth graduation ceremony of the AUB Continuing Education Center (CEC) in Assembly Hall, along with VP for Regional External Programs Dr. Hassan Diab and other guests, including ambassadors,
representatives of government agencies, the talented body of CEC instructors, and 276 graduates with their proud parents and friends. We were addressed by the CEC director Ziad Shaaban, co-director of SPARK organization Michel Richter, student speaker Zaher Kassas, as well as the Ambassador of the Netherlands Hester Somsen, who all stressed the importance of continuing education and its impact on the community at large in Lebanon, the region and beyond.

CEC’s core objective is to strengthen AUB’s academic mission in its outreach, in addition to extending our resources to the community. This graduation was a clear statement that AUB can and will always serve our diverse community in manifold positive ways, by providing knowledge and education in many forms in order to make a difference in our region and beyond. It was particularly inspiring to see this diverse group of individuals being able to experience and appreciate an AUB education, gaining certificates and diplomas in 11 different fields. Among them were successful career professionals seeking a step up in their specializations, Syrian refugees seeking to enhance their skills and equip themselves to help rebuild their country, in addition to NGO volunteers who decided to empower themselves to contribute more to the economic, social, and educational development of their communities. Congratulations to all the great CEC graduates!

Best regards,

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD

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