As part of AUB’s ongoing process of reaccreditation, Dr. John DiNardo, Chair of the evaluation team from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Dr. DiNardo visited AREC, reviewed the research conducted there, and made suggestion regarding future plans and the significance of AREC (October 12) as part of AUB.
Dr. DiNardo also met with Dean Mohtar, multiple FAFS and AUB stakeholders, including Nabil De Freije, Minister of Administrative Development and FAFS EAB member, Khaled Sinno, FAFS EAB Chair, Hassan Machalb, ICARDA Director for Lebanon, Stephen Searcy, Head, Department of Biological & Agricultural Engineering, Texas A&M University, and several faculty members. Faculty who met with DiNardo included: (FAFS) Ammar Olabi, Mustapha Haidar, Mohamad Farran, Hadi Jaafar, and Mr. Nicolas Haddad; (FAS). Najat Saliba, Imad Saoud; (MSFEA) Darine Salam; Huda Huijer, Dean and Professor, Rafic Hariri School of Nursing; and Boushra Rahhal, Director of Institutional Accreditation and Assistant to Provost for Academic Affairs.
Dean Mohtar welcomed the attendees, and introduced the WEFRAH (Water-Energy-Food-Health Nexus of Renewable Resource) and FAFS Global Design Team (GDT) initiatives. Dr. Mustapha Haidar then presented a brief summary of AREC that illustrated its importance and capacity as a strategic research and training center in the Bekaa region. Afterwards, consecutive presentations were by FAFS, Biology, Chemistry and Engineering professors, in which they explained their research at AREC. Dr. Machlab explained the purpose of the partnership with AREC, praised its skilled staff, and well positioned, available land and water resources, facilities, tools, basic machinery, cold storage, and gene bank. Minister De Freij pointed out the strategic role of AREC as a center of agricultural research and education in the Beqaa plain; one that also holds significance for the surrounding communities. Dr. Huijer affirmed the possibility of starting a technical university program at AREC.
In turn, Dr. Searcy expressed his pleasure to be at AREC and his strong belief in the need to take advantage of AREC’s spacious facility. Dr. DiNardo suggested looking to accredit different disciplines and programs within FAF, as this could offer a quality control measure from the US Accrediting body, as well as a snapshot and reflection of where AUB and FAFS stand.
The meeting was followed by a tour of AREC facilities and a traditional lunch.