Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Thousands of alumni and friends from around the world tuned in for a three-hour show on Sunday, October 11, 2020, hosted by Lebanese-American comedian and AUB alumnus Nemr (BBA ’05). The AUB community came together as it has so often throughout our 155-year history to demonstrate its deep commitment to AUB – and to Lebanon. Members of the worldwide audience and many of Nemr’s guests spoke eloquently about the challenges that AUB and Lebanon face today – and their determination to help AUB and the people of Lebanon overcome those challenges.
#AUBNecessary was a celebration of what AUB has meant to many alumni and friends, and to Lebanon, the region, and the world; an opportunity to hear about some of the initiatives that AUB has launched in recent months to respond to the August 4 explosion in Beirut, and a chance to meet some extraordinary recent graduates who are getting a lot of attention these days. It was also a fundraiser, which was generously supported by matching donations from the Gangarosa family, Trustee Emeritus Riad Kamal, Trustee Philip Winder, and Fouad (BE ’83) and Rula Najjar (former student) Tamer. AUB received contributions from more than 150 donors totaling over $450,000 for AUB4Beirut Disaster Response initiatives and $150,000 for the Gangarosa Family Endowed Chair for Safe Water and Sanitation.
There were guests from academia, the entertainment world, media, sports, and business. Some were members of multi-generation AUB families; others, who were not alumni, also spoke passionately about why they thought AUB was necessary. They shared their stories and reflections that were both deeply personal and also universal. Several guests had especially strong connections to AUB: Ramzi Alamuddin, Nemr, and Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr were born at “AUH” (now known as the AUB Medical Center). Many mentioned how much they valued AUB’s diverse student body and the opportunity it gave them to hear different points of views noting that this opportunity was even more necessary today than in the past. Others spoke passionately about how much they valued the liberal arts education that AUB offered and how that experience had enriched their lives decades after they graduated.
In addition to poignant memories of the past, there was a lot of optimism about the future. Several guests noted that members of the younger generation were more tolerant and more interested in what united them with other people than in the differences that sometimes divided their parents and grandparents.
Nemr was masterful weaving interviews – both live and recorded – with the occasional video and providing regular updates on fundraising totals. The event concluded with a live interview with President Fadlo Khuri, Trustee Emerita Ann Kerr-Adams, and Coach Kerr. Khuri spoke about the enduring legacy of former AUB President Malcom Kerr who was assassinated on the AUB campus on January 18, 1984. Ann Kerr-Adams and her son Steve spoke about their great pride in their family’s roots in Lebanon and at AUB – and about their optimism for the future. They spoke also about what great universities like AUB can do. “We’re not going anywhere,” said Khuri.