|January 2008 Vol. 9 No. 4|
The Worldwide Alumni Association of AUB (WAAAUB) wrapped up its first
international convention, held over the weekend of January 11, by adopting
on January 13 a set of objectives to help its board of directors achieve
its mission of "strengthening the ties between the American University
of Beirut and all its alumni and engaging all alumni in advancing and
supporting the goals and the educational, research, and service mission
of the University."
"WAAAUB's mission is to tap into the wealth of talent of its alumni for the benefit of AUB," he said, noting the uniqueness of the diverse alumni body. "This diversity is also reflected in the geographic composition of the governing bodies of the alumni association," he said, adding that the WAAAUB council includes fifty members from Lebanon, thirty-five from North America, thirty from MENA, eight from Europe and four from Asia and the rest of the world.
Makkawi, who said he was proud to be heading the first alumni association to group all AUB alumni under one umbrella, said that it is important to protect the "precious and valuable" autonomy which the WAAAUB possesses.
"Whatever our motivations, we share the responsibility to represent the views of AUB alumni to the University, even views we do not endorse or support," he said.
He added that the WAAAUB was also working on finding a win-win solution for both the worldwide association and the Alumni Association of AUB, the Lebanon chapter. "I would like to assure you that our negotiations are moving in the positive direction and we hope that this proposal will put an end to this dispute."
Faisal Ali Al-Mutawa, a prominent Kuwaiti businessman, a former president of the Kuwait alumni chapter and a member of the Olayan School of Business Advisory Board, considered AUB chapters "the backbone" of the WAAAUB. "I believe strongly that the establishment of the WAAAUB will strengthen all alumni chapters and make it easier for us to unite in support of the University," he said. "WAAAUB will not and cannot replace the important work that takes place in individual alumni chapters."
Keynote speaker former Prime Minister Najib Mikati delivered an eloquent and heart-felt speech motivating alumni to work for both their alma mater and their fatherland and thanking the association for holding the meeting in Beirut-a decision he considered a vote of confidence in the city despite the current political turmoil in the country.
"I feel overjoyed whenever I'm invited to address an event at AUB because . . . it's an opportunity to liaise . . . with friends with whom I exchange ideas . . . about our country and what's best for its future and that of our children."
In turn, Mikati gave AUB his vote of confidence, calling it a "forward-looking" institution that, like the city hosting it, always came out of adversity stronger and "more promising than before."
Mikati, who said AUB plays a major role in educating generations and nurturing their dreams and ambitions, said that alumni owe it their financial and moral support. "Who is more apt than our alumni to safeguard our University as the pioneer in the Middle East, forever advancing with science and technology," he said. "Such an endeavor can only be made possible with continuing support of the University's funds and developing its donations and scholarships."
Mikati, however, found an important link between "serving our University" and "serving our nations," since they host our universities. For this reason, he prodded alumni to commit also to building "a strong and just nation where one feels safe and secure, not needing the care and attention of this or that external entity or country, for this would be an infringement leading to insecurity and loss." Moreover, he said that a just nation is one that is inclusive, "a true partnership" that does not alienate any group.
"Serving our country isn't just words or mottos, but a commitment to a true civic sense and to democratic values that uphold the citizen's basic civil rights, freedom, dignity, and the positive interaction with his fellow citizens," he added.
"We must opt for a strong, secure, determined nation, not one hesitant, weak, and disheartened. We must work towards a confident, proud, effective nation, not one uncertain, importing its characteristics and role. So let's beware of things that are too facile because whatever comes easily is easily swept away."
The Beirut-based WAAAUB, established by the Board of Trustees in 2006, is the only international association acknowledged by AUB, and includes all alumni chapters in Lebanon, North America, and the rest of the world. In addition to the fifteen-member Board of Directors, the association also includes an international Alumni Council of more than 130 members, who represent the entire AUB alumni network all over the world.
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