American University of Beirut

Dr. Wassim El Hajj appointed as AUB Mediterraneo's first rector

Dear members of the AUB community,

It gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of Dr. Wassim El Hajj, professor of computer science at the American University of Beirut (AUB), as rector of the American University of Beirut – Mediterraneo, effective January 1, 2023.

As the chief academic officer of our twin campus in Pafos, Cyprus, Dr. El Hajj will be overseeing the strategic academic development of the university, the operation of schools and academic support units, the growth and expansion of academic offerings, the advancement of research programs, and the effectiveness of quality assurance policies and procedures.

Since September 2021, when Dr. El Hajj was selected to serve as executive director of the American University of Beirut – Mediterraneo, he has been leading and participating in all aspects of the project including strategic and academic planning, local and US accreditation, legal agreements, human resources, communications, finance, procurement, and facilities. Wassim led the effort of drafting AUB Mediterraneo's vision, mission, charter, staffing plan, policies and bylaws, and development plan. He has worked closely with expert colleagues, faculty, and staff to navigate the accreditation process of AUB Mediterraneo with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and the Cyprus Agency of Quality Assurance and Accreditation in Higher Education (CYQAA).

Professor El Hajj received his BS from AUB in 2000, and his MS (2002) and PhD (2006) from Western Michigan University, all in computer science. He then joined the Information Security Department at United Arab Emirates University as assistant professor for three years, before joining the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at AUB as a visiting assistant professor, then moving in 2011 to the Computer Science Department as a full-time faculty member. In 2013, he was elected to chair the department and served for two terms. He also served as associate dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, leading the e-learning and entrepreneurship strategies and attending to student concerns. An outstanding scholar, Wassim was promoted to associate professor in 2014, awarded tenure in 2019, and promoted to professor in 2021. As an active member of the University Senate, he served as Senate Secretary and as chair of the Senate Committee on Faculty Affairs, working diligently with faculty members and administrators to develop a financial lifeline for faculty in the midst of the Lebanese economic collapse.

His research interests are in the areas of machine learning with a focus on Arabic natural language processing, wireless communications, and network security. His research activities have culminated in 20 research grants worth more than $3 million, two US patents, 34 journal publications, and 67 refereed conference publications. In January 2022, he co-founded the ACL Special Interest Group on Arabic Natural Language Processing (SIGARAB) which became the largest community of Arabic NLP researchers within less than one year. He has also served as a frequent speaker and a technical reviewer at leading international conferences.

Over the past year and a half, Dr. El Hajj continued to demonstrate that he is a dedicated, inclusive, and thoughtful servant leader, one capable of handling the diverse and complex needs of setting up the American University of Beirut's first twin campus outside Lebanon. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Wassim El Hajj on his prestigious new post, and wishing him all the best as rector of the American University of Beirut – Mediterraneo.


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