Founders' Day: AUB Celebrates 135th Anniversary
Not even the chants of students demonstrating outside the Assembly Hall over an alleged assault of one student group on another could disturb the dignified procession of 41 colorfully robed faculty members and officers of the university, the solemnity of the organ music, or the commitment of the speakers to the theme of this year's 135th Founders' Day celebration in Assembly Hall on December 3.
In the words of President Waterbury, the commemoration was a "remembrance and reaffirmation of institutional ideals." The theme, "The Role of AUB in Service to the Community," was amply developed by the three main speakers.
Following the processional and the singing of the national anthem, President Waterbury briefly outlined the history of AUB's involvement in the community, from the opening of the Department of Medicine in 1871 and the first steps toward the establishment of a school of nursing in 1905 down through the modern commitments of many faculties in the greater community today.
While acknowledging the on-going involvement of AUB's faculties in service to the community as "a normal part of the life of our professional schools," the president recommended strengthening projects undertaken by faculty, staff, and students "on a purely voluntary basis." He urged everyone in the AUB community to advise him of any purely voluntary activities either planned or underway so that the university can give them "the publicity and endorsement they deserve."
introducing the next speaker, winner of the Founders' Day essay contest,
President Waterbury gave the background of the three year-old competition,
judged this year by Professor Mounir Bashshur of the Department of Education,
Associate Provost Waddah Nasr, and Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences
from the recommendations of these jurors, president Waterbury insisted
that the contributions of all thirteen contestants should be seriously
listened to and that AUB should not be too flattered by the "heartening
and sustaining" words the essays used to describe AUB, but should
rather encourage the students to look critically at the administration
and faculty, while they, in turn, continue to look critically at themselves
and at the institution as a whole.
Upon introducing the essay contest winner, Nadine
Miss Gladys Mouro addressing the audience
Moawad, a junior majoring in biology, Dr. Waterbury said that the contributions of all the contestants should be praised and recognized. Ms. Moawad's assessment of AUB's role in service to the community, entitled, "AUB Vocals," stressed the responsibility the university must assume in extending the advantages of an AUB education to the "less privileged sectors of the Lebanese and Arab community simply because it can. Help is within AUB's power, and thus within its responsibility." As a member herself of the less privileged sector of Lebanese society, Nadine Moawad concluded, "AUB has given me two things: a merit scholarship and a voice. The scholarship is worth over $50,000. The voice is priceless."
introducing the guest speaker, AUB's Gladys Mouro, assistant director
of the hospital and director of nursing services, President Waterbury
outlined the highlights of Ms. Mouro's 30-year commitment to AUB. He
began with her matriculation in 1976, then her accession to the post
of director of nursing services in 1983, her selfless and courageous
devotion to the AUB Medical Center throughout the civil war, and finally
to her current position as assistant director of the hospital.
Passionate and eloquent in her insistence on the importance for
AUB of gender equality and service to the community, Ms. Mouro pointed out that despite a current student enrollment almost equally divided between males and females, women teaching at AUB represent only one third of the entire faculty.
the realm of community service Mouro maintains that service "to
community bring[s] benefits that cannot be bought at any price,"
enriching and enhancing "learning in all areas of a university's
curriculum" and actually improving the academic performance of
students "as a result of" the demands of structuring, planning
and discipline required by hands-on participation. In addition, she
stated, the experience of community service reinforces moral and civic
values in serving others. Ms. Mouro, echoing the sentiments of at least
one contestant in the student essay contest, even recommended the completion
of a certain number of hours of community service as a graduation requirement.
Although the somber yet colorful robes and hoods of the faculty and administrators in the recessional recalled the medieval separation of town and gown, the words of the three speakers in this year's Founders' Day ceremony dispelled any idea that AUB or any university can long persist in the modern world as "an ivory tower."
Nadine Moauwad, winner of the Founders' Day Student Essay Contest, receiving her prize from President Waterbury.
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