New expertise, promising collaborations, and an even richer AUB

​​​​​​​Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications, communications@aub.edu.lb

Sixty-five new faculty members, from 18 nationalities, joined six AUB faculties this fall. A three-day informative orientation welcomed the new members and introduced them to AUB and its values, departments, and services.
 
“Your impressive, diverse, and incandescent backgrounds and expertise truly reflect the breadth of AUB’s distinguished modern academic profile.” President Fadlo Khuri told the new faculty members. “Our students are our hope for better days to come, but also, they are putting their faith in us to lift them over our shoulders so they can stand tall… I would like to thank each and every one of you for offering your shoulders to them. If they can stand tall, they can make the impact that they believe they can make, that we know they can make.”
 
Deans and associate deans of the corresponding faculties welcomed their new professors, with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences receiving 25 new academic members, the Faculty of Medicine receiving 12, the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture receiving nine, the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business receiving seven, the Faculty of Health Sciences receiving seven, and the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences receiving five. Incoming faculty hold degrees from universities in North America, including Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Brown, Columbia, and McGill; Europe, including Oxford, London School of Economics, Georg August of Germany, and Sapienza University of Rome; Africa, including University of Alexandria and Addis Ababa University; and Asia, including Bilkent University, Quaid-e-Azam of Islamabad, and the University of Baghdad.
 
“It is always a pleasure to see new faces in our faculty body. We are proud of having you as educators at this iconic institution,” said Provost Mohamed Harajli who spoke about the mission and vision of AUB; presented facts and figures about the institution, its accreditation, academic tenure policy, and faculty programs; and answered questions posed by the new faculty members.
 
The new faculty were introduced to the various administrative units, policies, and benefits. In addition, representatives of various AUB departments advised on life at AUB and the neighborhood, centers and services available, research at AUB and the Human Research Protection Program, and ways to promote and utilize research.
 
For Dr. Walid El Kayal, who will be teaching horticulture, plant physiology, and molecular biology, the aim is “to provide an excellent teaching experience to AUB students that can help them to pursue their career in plant biology.” He is working on research that he hopes will “have an impact that helps local farmers and growers to solve any issues they are encountering.” Dr. El Kayal, who received his PhD from Toulouse University in France and served in multiple academic positions in Canada and the US explained his choice to join AUB. “AUB is a very well recognized university worldwide; ranked first in the QS Arab Region Universities Ranking and 235 in the QS World University Ranking in 2018,” he said.
 
New elements were added this year to the orientation program, organized annually by the New Faculty Orientation program under the Office of the Provost. A student panel titled “Voices of our Students” where students spoke about the characteristics that are most important to them in their professors, who their favorite professors are and why, what advice they would give to the new faculty, and what they look for in a professor. “Uppermost in our minds is the need to move away from the top down approach to describe our student body, their goals, challenges, and expectations to give agency to students to describe their issues using their own authentic voices, so that we as faculty can understand them better. It is about their take on the ideal professor, not ours,” said Rima Iskandarani, New Faculty Orientation facilitator.
 
Building on AUB’s core values and mission in teaching, research, and service, two other new sessions were added to this year’s faculty orientation program: one on “the role of civic engagement in enhancing transformative education and community-based research” presented by the Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service, and one titled Back to Nature, offered by the Department of Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management and the Nature Conservation Center to help new faculty better serve their discipline while reaching out to both the local and global communities. The Neighborhood Initiative at AUB, which annually orients new faculty through presentations and organized neighborhood walks, this year added a focus on their initiatives that provide opportunities to connect the faculty members’ teaching and research to critical issues and problems in the Ras Beirut neighborhood as well as the outside world.
 
The new faculty had the opportunity to further network with their colleagues and the various AUB representatives through a traditional welcome lunch held at the AUB Faculty Lounge and a reception hosted by President Khuri at Marquand House.
 
Marilyn Hacker, award-winning poet and this year’s Edward Said Chair of American Studies at AUB, was invited by the English Department in 2013 to give a talk at AUB. Since then, she has visited Lebanon six times. This time, she made a decision to join AUB and plans to bring in writers from around the world and within Lebanon to inspire and work with AUB students. “I like many of the people that I have met who work and teach here, and the students that I have met at AUB, and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to really be practically part of this wonderful community!”