American University of Beirut

Hariri School of Nursing becomes AUB’s newest faculty

Jennifer Muller <>, Office of Communications

On September 1, 2018, the Hariri School of Nursing (HSON) attained independent status, becoming the university’s seventh faculty. Retaining its name as a school in line with prevailing nomenclature for nursing schools around the world, the HSON is now independent from the Faculty of Medicine and will be headed by a dean instead of a director. The AUB Board of Trustees approved this move in June. 

“This represents an historic step for the region’s oldest and most distinguished school of nursing,” said President Fadlo Khuri in his message to the community following the decision. “We would like to take this opportunity to commend the founding dean-elect, faculty, and staff of HSON for their outstanding efforts in education, research, service, and leadership in the field of nursing which have led to the school's elevation to independent status.”

Recognition and visibility

The attainment of this long-deserved status is an effort that has been more than a decade in the making and is thanks to the concerted effort of many. Dr. Huda Huijer, who has led the school since 2003, spoke to us about the history of the school, their path to independence, and what this new status means to the Hariri School of Nursing.

“The most important thing is that it is a recognition of the discipline of nursing; that it is an autonomous field of study and not just an extension of medicine,” said Huijer. “Now AUB—the top university in the country—has recognized the importance of nursing by making its school of nursing independent, with a dean. This is important for our current faculty and students, but also for recruiting outstanding students and scholars to study and work here.” 

The road to independence

When Huijer joined the HSON as director in 2003, she spoke with the faculty and found broad support for moving in the direction of independence. In the intervening years, HSON brought on more new faculty members with PhDs, focused on increasing research output, and secured international affirmation of excellence with unconditional accreditation, membership in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and establishing the first Sigma Theta Tau nursing honor society in the region.

Following a very successful 110th anniversary of the school, the HSON administration revived an earlier proposal for independence and took it a step further, commissioning an indepth external review of the school’s readiness for independent status and revising the school’s vision and strategic plan. With the full support of the Faculty of Medicine leadership and university leadership, HSON appointed a working group to update and refine the proposal for independent faculty status in alignment with the AUBMC 2020 Vision and AUB’s Health 2025 Vision.

In June 2018, Executive Vice President for Medicine and Global Strategy and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Mohamed Sayegh brought this proposal to the AUB Board of Trustees and won a resounding endorsement of the proposal.

“It is about time that the HSON becomes an independent, fully fledged entity,” said Dr. Sayegh, “since this will push us to perform at the height of nursing education, research, and practice and will propel us to provide aspiring nurses that support excellence in professional practices.”

The road ahead

With its independent faculty status, the HSON is looking forward to being better positioned to realize their strategic objectives. A major part of this is attracting the best and brightest to HSON, from undergraduate and graduate students to nursing scholars and educators. In terms of students, there are many new programs being launched and planned, such as a new PhD program beginning in 2018–19 which follows an innovative collaborative model, partnering with others at AUB and with international schools of nursing. 

Another top priority is to continue their focus on research excellence. This includes recruiting internationally-recognized nursing scholars and establishing a Center for Nursing Research which aims to promote interdisciplinary research activities and help faculty increase their scientific publications. 

In addition, HSON ​will be better positioned to engage in fundraising activities among alumni and potential donors, which can help in increasing scholarships, establishing endowed chairs, and supporting transformative research. Finally, the HSON plans to enhance their engagement in community and outreach activities, contributing to the health and wellbeing of the community and the environment.

“We are now in charge of our own destiny,” explained Dr. Huijer, “and we plan to leverage this independent status to strengthen our leadership role in the region and beyond.”​​

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