Jennifer Muller, email@example.com, Office of Communications
AUB’s annual ceremony to recognize legacy families was held on September 13 at Assembly Hall. New students entering this year who have a parent or grandparent that attended AUB were invited to this special welcoming event organized by the Office of Alumni Relations. The Legacy Ceremony is meant to honor these families whose commitment to AUB extends over multiple generations.
As President Khuri told the alumni parents in the audience: “You cannot entrust us with a more important part of your own legacy than your children.” He also expressed his hope that these young people leave AUB “as global citizens and as drivers of positive change in their communities and the world at large,” in addition to leaving AUB with as much love and respect for the institution as their alumni parents and grandparents have.
Salma Oueida, associate vice president for development and alumni relations, noted that the legacy spirit can be found among many of AUB’s faculty and staff, including the university’s senior leadership. She herself is an alumni parent, as is President Fadlo Khuri, Provost Mohamed Harajli, and VP for Advancement Imad Baalbaki who was there with his wife Annelie—also an AUB graduate—escorting their daughter Sarah as she enters AUB. “Even students who are the first ones in their family to attend AUB will tell you that they feel they are a part of something special because so many of their classmates are the children of AUB alumni,” said Oueida. “They are impressed that our alumni feel such a strong attachment to their alma mater that they want their sons and daughters to attend AUB too.”
Also speaking at the event was Salim Kanaan, director of admissions and financial aid, who talked about the amazing diversity in this year’s incoming class and how one in five AUB students has a legacy connection with the university. Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nizameddin added his welcome to the group and said that he finds the Legacy Ceremony to be one of the most touching events of the year as it connects past to present and future.
This year’s guest parent speaker was alumnus Salman Aljishi (EMBA ’11), a businessman and philanthropist in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province who talked about his disappointment at not being able to attend AUB as an undergraduate because of the war. Later in life, he was able to realize his dream by completing the Executive MBA program and, this year, that dream continued as he accompanied his son Mohammad to begin his studies at AUB as a freshman.
A reception under the stars followed the ceremony, where alumni parents and grandparents found old friends or met new ones and enjoyed spending the evening with their children and grandchildren, now embarking on their own AUB adventure.
One of these proud parents that we had a chance to talk with was Lebanese Defense Minister Yacoub Sarraf (BE ’84, BArch ’87) and his daughter Sofia. Minister Sarraf said that the campus has changed a lot since his days, as he recalled how he and his friends used to congregate at Assembly Hall because it was the only building on campus with air conditioning at the time. Having attended during the war, he said “We had very, very good times; but very, very bad times too,” and yet he proclaimed that it was an amazing experience overall. Sarraf’s daughter Sofia used this same word—“amazing”—to describe her first week as a medical laboratory sciences major.
Some of the legacy families at the event represented a connection with AUB that goes back three or more generations, such as the Jaroudi family. An alumni trustee since 2015 and a longtime donor to AUB, Hisham Izzat Jaroudi (BE ’66) told us how proud he was to be at the ceremony with his daughter Nadia Jaroudi Raad (BArch ’99) and his granddaughter Tamara Raad, who is entering as a biology major.
Other legacy families have both vertical and horizontal connections. Cyril Abdallah, for example, is a new business administration student who attended the event with his older brother Karol, a third-year landscape architecture major, as well as their mother Celine Melki Abdallah (BS ’89, MS ’95) who graduated from AUB with a bachelor’s in biology and master’s degree in food technology. Cyril seemed to echo the outlook of many of the new students at the event when he said: “It’s only been two weeks, but it’s already the best experience of my life!”