Tuesday, November 21, 2023
Almost 300 alumni and friends of the American University of Beirut (AUB) gathered at the Cipriani 25 Broadway, a stunning venue in lower Manhattan, on November 16, 2023, for what one attendee described as “a magnificent evening.” The occasion was the 2023 AUB Fundraising Dinner hosted by the Board of Trustees to raise urgently needed funds “for our students, for our patients.”
In his welcoming remarks, Chairman Philip S. Khoury (former student 1969-70) thanked trustees “for all that you bring to the university, in terms of your financial support, your wisdom, and your spirited commitment.” He also thanked “the members of our distinguished International Advisory Council whose guidance has been a critical part of our success.”
One of the special moments during the evening was a heartfelt tribute to Chairman Khoury, who will be stepping down as board chairman in 2024, led by Trustee Emerita Ann Kerr-Adams (former student 1954-55), Trustee Franz-Josef Ulm, and Trustee Emeritus José Zaglul (BS Agriculture ’71, MS Animal Science ’73). The incoming chairman of the Board of Trustees, Abdo George Kadifa (BEN Electrical Engineering ’81, has served as a trustee since 2014 and is the board's vice chair for information technology and innovation.
During his keynote address, President Fadlo R. Khuri (former student 1981-82) spoke about what it was that motivated the university to “keep plugging away, growing stronger even, during trying times.” He explained, “We must because over the past 150+ years we have been a powerful, vibrant, and safe space for freedom of thought, for creativity, and most especially for hope for a better tomorrow. A space where people can come to think, share, learn, believe, and grow strong so they can carve out their own place in the world and make it better. We will do whatever it takes to maintain that remarkable, irreplaceable space.”
Khuri also focused his remarks on the current state of the university. He noted that the incoming class of undergraduates was the largest since fall 2019 – and that AUB was providing more financial support to students than at any time in its history. “In total, 88.5 percent of our students receive some financial aid, with 65 percent of students receiving an average aid amount covering over half of their tuition costs. And a full 1,700 students are attending AUB this year free of charge.”
Khuri also provided an update on the American University of Beirut – Mediterraneo in Pafos, Cyprus, where AUB welcomed its inaugural cohort of 53 international students from 12 countries this fall.
In his remarks about the AUB Medical Center (AUBMC), Khuri noted that it was providing medical care to a greater share of the Lebanese population than in the past. “We admitted nearly 900 more patients to AUBMC this year than last year and over 32,000 more people visited our clinics than the year before,” he said.
Khuri highlighted the critical role of the successful BOLDLY AUB Campaign in enabling the university to provide financial assistance to so many AUB students and to reducing “the number of people for whom finance is a barrier to healthcare.” He reminded the audience that BOLDLY AUB: The Campaign to Lead, Innovate, and Serve had been launched in January 2017 at the end of a year-long celebration of the university’s 150th anniversary. The campaign, which will conclude in January 2024, has so far raised more than $750 million in gifts and pledges, including $220 million for the endowment and over $180 million for current and endowed scholarship funds. “This dazzling achievement was made possible with the help of – and I want to detail these numbers for you because they’re remarkable - 61,842 donations from 24,842 donors from 94 countries,” said Khuri. He went on to stress the pivotal role that AUB trustees and alumni had played in the success of the BOLDLY Campaign.
The evening concluded with a live appeal led by Lebanese comedian and AUB alumna Nataly Aukar (BA Media and Communications '16). The “last paddle standing” contest, during which dinner attendees competed against each other to see who would be the last to bid $250 and thereby win the opportunity to have dinner with President Fadlo Khuri and his wife, Dr. Lamya Tannous-Khuri – was won by trustees and alumni Huda Zoghbi (BS Basic Medical Sciences ’76), vice chair for academic affairs, and William Zoghbi (BS Basic Medical Sciences ’76), vice chair for medicine and health.
“It was truly a memorable evening. Thanks to our extraordinary AUB family, we were able to raise $6 million for our students and our patients,” said Senior Vice President Imad B. Baalbaki. “The evening was a celebration of our university and the truly extraordinary role it plays in Lebanon and the region – especially during challenging times such as the ones we are living through these days.” He went on to laud the tireless efforts of “our Advancement team and AUB colleagues in North America and Beirut that led the planning and execution of this spectacular event.”
You will find a wonderful selection of photos here.