AUB alumni and friends respond to worldwide Solidarity Appeal

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

There are thousands of students at AUB now who are struggling to pay their tuition fees. AbdulRazzak Doughan, who is majoring in agriculture, is one of them. “AUB launched the Solidarity Appeal to raise financial support for students like me who are committed to success yet need help now more than ever to continue their education at AUB,” he says. AUB alu​mni and friends from around the world have responded to the worldwide Solidarity Appeal that AUB launched on November 27, 2019, from as far away as Australia, Kazakhstan, and Vietnam, to support current students at AUB and needy patients seeking care at the AUB Medical Center. Many alumni and friends in Lebanon, even though they are facing enormous economic challenges themselves, have also responded.

Everyone in Lebanon who has money in a Lebanese bank has been affected by the current economic situation because of the restrictions that banks have imposed on how much money depositors can withdraw or transfer abroad from their accounts. The parents of some students have lost their jobs and/or have not been paid. All this is happening while prices—for even basic goods—continue to rise. “Imagine having to choose between helping your parents, who are struggling financially, and paying for the university tuition of your daughter or son who has their entire future ahead of them? It is heartbreaking,” says Vice President for Advancement Imad B. Baalbaki. 

“AUB had always been a dream for me and for my parents who are working really hard to give me the opportunity to have a quality education. Despite their efforts, I would not be able to pursue this dream without AUB’s financial aid program,” says Tima Farhat, who is majoring in landscape architecture. 

President Fadlo Khuri has spoken often in recent months about AUB’s commitment to “do everything in our power to ensure that all our enrolled students are able to complete their education without dropping out for financial, psychological, or other reasons related to the current situation.” In his Founders Day speech on December 2, 2019, he went on to describe how AUB, Lebanon, and the world are “bound together by our common humanity and our duty to the most vulnerable, wherever they come from.” That sense of common humanity can be seen in the response to the Solidarity Appeal.

It is not just individual alumni and friends who have responded to the appeal. Alumni chapters have also stepped forward. Many chapters contacted the university before the Solidarity Appeal was launched asking what they could do to help. “Our alumni are our ambassadors and advocates—and are always ready to lend a helping hand. They are so important to AUB. Their role is especially critical in challenging times like today,” says Salma Oueida, associate vice president for development and alumni relations. Alumni chapters in Atlanta, Jordan, Kuwait, Montreal, Oman, Ottawa, and Philadelphia-Delaware Valley rallied their members to support the Solidarity Appeal. Professional chapters such as the Surgical Alumni Association of North America (SAANA) and the Health Sciences Chapter did as well. Chapters in Cyprus, Southern California, and Switzerland are planning events in January and February.

“The response to the Solidarity Appeal has been wonderful, but—I will be honest with you—we need much more help to meet the urgent and growing need among our students. We are also seeing more patients at our hospital who can’t pay for their medical care. These are tough times to fundraise because so many people in our community who have traditionally been our most generous supporters are also feeling the effect of the economic downfall in the country. They too are struggling and are nervous about the future and so we are especially looking to our worldwide community—in North America and around the world—to step forward,” says Baalbaki. “I have no doubt that they will respond. They always do. Our alumni and friends are second to none.”