New Munib and Angela Masri Building opens with inaugural symposium

​​​Jennifer Muller, jm26@aub.edu.lb, Office of Communications

AUB’s newest state-of-the-art facility—the Munib and Angela Masri Building—was officially opened with an Inaugural Symposium on Energy, Natural Resources, and the Environment, coordinated by the Munib and Angela Masri Institute of Energy and Natural Resources at AUB. The opening was held in the presence of the AUB Board of Trustees, Chairman Philip Khoury, President Fadlo Khuri, senior administrators, faculty, staff, students, and dignitaries. Guests of honor were Trustee Emeritus Munib R. Masri (Hon. DHL 2012) and his wife Angela, along with other members of the Masri family.

The new building will house the Munib and Angela Masri Institute of Energy and Natural Resources, an interdisciplinary research hub established in 2007 that is committed to addressing the sustainable and responsible use, management, and conservation of natural resources and energy, particularly in the Arab world. The building will also house other functions related to the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA), including the Bahaa and Walid Bassatne Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, the Energy Studies Program, the Program in Green Technologies, the MSFEA Student Services Center, as well as computer labs and IT support.

AUB President Fadlo Khuri addressed the packed auditorium, thanking the Masri family, as well the many people who worked diligently to realize this project on time and under budget. He also spoke about AUB’s vision for this new facility.

“This building is meant to signify the education, research, and further development within the sectors of natural resources, energy, and the environment in hopes of creating a transformative impact on the future wellbeing and prosperity of Lebanon and the region,” said Khuri. 

Munib Masri, chairman of the Engineering and Development Group (Edgo) and AUB trustee emeritus since 2011 and trustee since 2001, addressed those assembled and said that even though he did not have the privilege of attending AUB himself, it is a university that is always in his heart and in his mind.

“We hope we can contribute more to AUB because we think AUB is the answer,” said Masri. “I think AUB is going to lead the research and I think the Masri Institute will be—through AUB—the voice of the people.” He added: “Sometimes dreams come true, and one of these dreams, my dream, came true: this institute.”

Chairman Philip Khoury then presented plaques to both Angela and Munib Masri in appreciation and recognition of their “exceptional dedication and contributions to the success and advancement of the university and the empowerment of persons across our region.”

Following a speech by MSFEA Dean Alan Shihadeh about his faculty’s agenda for a “viable, liveable, and equitable world,” the symposium continued with two keynote addresses. The first was given by Dr. Sharon Mosher, dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, which is the alma mater of both Munib and Angela Masri. Mosher discussed the role of universities in addressing 21st century global Earth challenges, which includes preparing students with the knowledge and skills necessary to confront these challenges, as well as collaborating among global universities which can facilitate finding solutions to these challenges. The other distinguished speaker was Dr. David Mohrig, associate dean for research at the Jackson School of Geosciences, who spoke on the need to better monitor the environment using more data, new tools, and better predictions.

Concluding the symposium was Dr. Nesreen Ghaddar, director of the Masri Institute since its inception, who President Khuri praised as a “visionary and pioneering researcher.” She revealed how the institute is going to reorient itself towards priorities that will influence society and address the energy challenges of this region.

“We would like to reorient the strategic allocation of funds centered on impacting future energy priorities of the region and collaborate across disciplines, optimize resource distribution, and advance viable solutions for societal development,” said Ghaddar. To accomplish this, the Masri Institute is going to change strategies from open calls for research to focused calls where the institute will support two multi-year projects focused on one topic per call.

Following the symposium, invited guests were taken on a tour of the facilities and enjoyed a luncheon on the rooftop of the new building.