American University of Beirut

President's Speech - Thomas Q. Morris

​​President Peter Dorman's speech
introducing Thomas Q. Morris 
June 27, 2009 

I cannot end this ceremony without mention of the fact that the last day of June brings with it the retirement of our chairman of the Board of Trustees, Tom Morris, completing five years at the helm of AUB. It is almost by chance that Tom came to involve himself at this University, through the visit of a team from the New York State Board of Education tasked with the accreditation of the AUB Medical Center in 1982. He himself has described the tumultuous situation in which the center was mired at that time, at the height of the civil war in Lebanon, when the hospital staff would have to cope with sudden floods of war casualties at a moment's notice. Hugely impressed by the dedication, professionalism, and determination of all the members of the AUB community to survive in the most harrowing circumstances, Tom joined the Board of Trustees in 1985.

Since that time he has selflessly devoted his time and energies in promoting the health and welfare of AUB, and in reestablishing its preeminence in the region. As a graduate of the Department of Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University, and with now almost fifty years of experience at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, Tom Morris has offered his wisdom in all matters medical to the faculty and staff of our medical center. As vice-chair of the Board of Trustees, and then as chairman beginning in 2004, he has vigorously supported a host of initiatives to move AUB into a stable, peacetime footing. His tenure coincided with the University's first capital fund-raising effort, the Campaign for Excellence, which culminating in amassing $171 million, the largest educational campaign ever undertaken in the Arab Middle East. 

Tom's advocacy of the Campus Master Plan has also seen the completion of the Charles W. Hostler Student Center, the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, the CCC Scientific Research Building, and final planning for the Irani-Oxy Engineering Complex and the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy. Within the realm of medicine alone, the AUB Medical Center, in the last five years, has been transformed with the founding of the Abu-Haidar Neuroscience Institute, the Pierre Aboukhater Medical Arts Facility, the Naef K. Basile Cancer Center, the Mamdouha Bobst Breast Center, and renovations of the Emergency Department. More than that, Tom established the Performance Improvement Committee at AUBMC, as a tool to constantly monitor and improve basic medical practices with the advice and guidance of medical trustees. The Joint Commission International accreditation of the AUBMC and the triumphant new Magnet designation of our Nursing Service have validated his vision and his confidence that this University can perform at the very highest level.

In his challenging role as chairman of the Board, Tom has served as a paragon of diplomacy and fair-mindedness. He is a man of integrity and leadership, who has articulated and crystallized the values and mission of AUB in a way that has greatly advanced the reemergence of one of the jewels of higher education in the Middle East. 

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