An air of excitement and anticipation filled the room in College Hall as over 60 new faculty members began their orientation to AUB. Representing a wide range of disciplines and coming to Beirut from across the globe, the new academic staff run the gamut from lecturers and instructors to professors and visiting professors.
AUB President Fadlo Khuri began the proceedings by welcoming the new group, which he touted as the “largest and most diverse incoming class” since he became president. Khuri sketched out for the faculty some of the university’s important initiatives and future plans, as well as what they can expect to find at AUB as scholars and teachers.
“We want to establish a culture of high-risk, high-reward scholarship and that is where you come in,” said Khuri. “You were selected because you are scholars, you are educators, you are physicians, and you are servant-leaders who are here to provide an example and to teach and focus on these young folks.”
New faces, new directions
The largest group of new faculty are joining the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), with 27 new recruits. Among these is the first director of the Farouk K. Jabre Center for Arabic and Islamic Science and Philosophy, George Saliba, an award-winning scholar who is looking forward to launching this exciting new center.
Another new faculty member with big plans is Sumru Altağ, who is coming in as chair of the Economics Department. She expressed her desire to begin by giving a facelift to the department space in order to make it a more appealing place for the students and the faculty. In terms of the department members, she intends to work with them on reinventing and reenergizing the department, using an innovative self-organizing model.
Along with those completely new to AUB are some familiar faces, such as Makram Rabah who will be a lecturer in the Department of History and Archaeology. Not only is Rabah a two-time alumnus, he wrote A Campus at War about student politics at AUB during the 1960s and 1970s. Another individual known to many is George Azar, the acclaimed Lebanese-American photojournalist and documentary filmmaker, who joins the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Media Studies (SOAM) in a visiting capacity as photojournalist-in-residence.
The Faculty of Medicine (FM) welcomes 16 new faculty in a variety of disciplines. One of these is Hana Itani, new assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology, who brings with her a track record of outstanding research in the cardiovascular field and clinical pharmacology. Other new faculty specialties include neurosurgery, radiation oncology, psychiatry, pathology, otolaryngology, radiology, anesthesiology, dermatology, and emergency medicine. Many of these new doctors graduated from medical school at AUB and are returning to their alma mater after working abroad at prestigious schools and hospitals around the world.
The Rafic Hariri School of Nursing (HSON) also welcomes back an old friend, new assistant professor Houry Puzantian, whose research program is directed at understanding mechanisms linking risk factors with cardiovascular disease. At the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (MSFEA), there are ten new faculty members, including seasoned academics as well as people with years of professional experience in the corporate and art worlds. One of these is Omar Mismar, a visual artist and educator whose work has been shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and is joining the Department of Architecture and Design.
The Suliman S. Olayan School of Business (OSB) is adding five new faculty members to their ranks. One of these, Walid Nasr, is simply relocating from one part of campus to another as he moves from MSFEA to OSB, joining the Business Information and Decision Systems track. Other new faculty at OSB come from much farther away, including Mohammad Riaz Uddin, who comes to AUB from Bangladesh, and Jay Joseph from Australia.
At the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) there are three new faculty members, two of whom are joining the relatively new Medical Audiology Sciences Program, which is the first of its kind in Lebanon. Also joining FHS is Zeina Jamaluddine, an instructor of public health practice whose research focuses on food security and malnutrition among marginalized populations. In addition, three new instructors in Nutrition and Food Sciences are joining the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences (FAFS).
The AUB New Faculty Orientation is overseen by Provost Mohamed Harajli and managed with aplomb by Rima Iskandarani. During the program’s three days, over 50 administrators, staff, and fellow faculty members help the new recruits learn about the university’s culture, practices, and environs. The orientation program ends with a celebratory reception at Marquand House, President Khuri’s residence on campus, for all the new faculty members and their spouses.