Dear members of the AUB community,
It is my pleasure to announce Nayla Al-Akl as dean of student affairs at the American University of Beirut, effective September 1, 2022. She was chosen following an international search with many highly qualified candidates and will become the first woman dean of student affairs. Al-Akl is also assistant professor of landscape architecture in the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) and has served as associate dean of student affairs between 2019 and 2021.
Nayla Al-Akl graduated from AUB in 2002 with a bachelor of architecture and went on to earn her master of landscape architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2007, where she also won the Penny White Award and American Society of Landscape Architect (ASLA) Student Honor Award. Following her MLA, Al-Akl served as Beirut office director and landscape designer at SWA Group, operating in Lebanon and Texas, and working on award winning projects. In 2012, Al-Akl returned to AUB and joined the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS) as a lecturer and was appointed as an assistant professor in 2015. Al-Akl's research interests lie in the relationship between people and their environment, and the interface of nature/culture/society. She has been actively engaged in community-based learning and evidence-based design in order to promote inclusion and wellbeing, bridging the gap between theory and practice.
Throughout her time at AUB, Al-Akl has been highly active in service to her department, faculty, and university. As a faculty member in FAFS, she has been passionate about working with students, as an academic advisor and mentor to over 200 undergraduate and graduate students as well as the faculty advisor for the Landscape Architecture Student Society. She also helped design teaching and learning facilities at FAFS and AREC to improve the learning environment for students.
When she joined the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) in 2019 as associate dean, Al-Akl's goal was to enhance the student experience at AUB, with a particular focus on inclusion and wellbeing. Joining as she did during a time of upheaval both locally and globally, Al-Akl was at the forefront of helping students during the pandemic and strengthening the sense of community, both among students and OSA staff, as well as working with all faculties and support units to better serve the student body. During that time, Al-Akl co-chaired the Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. She also worked on creating a new identity for OSA and on increasing the visibility of student affairs.
Throughout her time as faculty member and associate dean, Al-Akl has proven herself a strong leader with excellent communication and problem-solving skills, while also possessing the sensitivity and understanding needed for this position. Please join me in congratulating Nayla Al-Akl on this new role and wishing her every success.
Fadlo R. Khuri, MD