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On Past Presidents and Football Stratagems: Fifty Years of Memories at AUB
Reviews: Small Change in Ancient Beirut
 

Spring 2007 Vol. V, No. 3

On Past Presidents and Football Stratagems: Fifty Years of Memories at AUB

By Dr. Yusuf Shibl

Dr. Yusuf Shibl, a senior AUB lecturer in finance, recently published Memories of Half a Century at AUB (Dar Al-Arabiyya Lil-Oloum: 2006), which includes detailed descriptions of many activities that took place at AUB during the last fifty years. Shibl reintroduces many of the professors, staff, and politically active students he encountered, and takes the reader on a tour of AUB's neighborhood as it once was.

Editors' note: Dr. Yusuf Shibl passed away on April 16, 2007. One of the last things he did before he passed away was to work with MainGate on this piece. We've included this piece as a tribute to his work.

Introduction
I have spent more than half a century on the AUB campus. I was a student in the Department of Economics for a time and a teacher in the School of Business for a longer time. During this time, AUB has had seven presidents: Stephen Penrose, Paul Leonard, Samuel Kirkwood, Malcolm Kerr, Frederic Herter, Robert Haddad, and John Waterbury in addition to Vice President Constantin Zurayk (1955-57) and Deputy Presidents Ibrahim Salti (1986-93) and Samir Makdisi (1993-97).

I have very fond memories of faculty and students and some of the momentous events that took place at this great institution. I was only away from AUB between 1959 and 1971. During those years, I worked in Saudi Arabia as an economic advisor, travelled to the United States to complete my PhD in economics (1961-65), returned to Saudi Arabia for a job with the Ministry of Finance (1966-68), and then worked at Citibank in Beirut, 1968-71.

STEPHEN PENROSE (1951-55)
When I joined AUB as a freshman in fall 1951, the president was Stephen Penrose. He had succeeded Bayard Dodge in 1949. The dean of Arts and Sciences was Farid Hanania.

Penrose is considered one of the brightest AUB presidents; he was an unequalled scientist, an eloquent speaker, and had a very strong personality. During his term, the School of Engineering building was built (1952) with a donation by US businessman Stephen Bechtel, and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences in was founded (1958), which became the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences ( FAFS) in 1979. Lebanese expatriate Nami Jafet built the Jafet Memorial Library on the ground occupied by two tennis courts in 1952. Samuel Edgecombe was the first dean of FAFS and Ken Weidner was the first dean of FEA.

Dean Edgecombe acted as a father to his students and was always very calm. During his term, the university farm in the Beqa'a Valley was established. Three years before his death the first FAFS class of 22 students graduated. Among those who graduated that year were Nasri Qawar, Guy Jallad, Kamal Marshi, Raja Tannous, Kamal Daouk, Ghaleb Hamadeh, Munzir Wehbeh, Sameer Badawi and Richard Freijeh. A year later, Nuhad Daghir, who just retired as dean of FAFS, graduated along with Youssef Fleihan, André Salib, former Dean Adib Saad, and others. Edgecombe died at the AUB farm in February 1959.


Dean Ken Weidner had a strong personality and a vision for the future. He maintained a close relationship with his students and often attended their leisure parties. He also led the FEA team in its annual confrontation in football with Arts and Sciences. He took his own decisions without listening to others and was always very decisive. In 1961, a failed fourth-year student stabbed Dean Weidner in the back with a knife because he had failed and the dean had refused to give in to pressure.

At that time, students met in Assembly Hall (it was called the Chapel then) three times a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) at 9:30am to listen to hymns accompanied by Salvador Arnita at the organ. Once every ten days or so, President Stephen Penrose would deliver a speech on some academic, social, or humanitarian topic.Noted speakers from the Lebanese and Arab communites.were invited in addition to noted AUB professors to talk on current issues.

Penrose was an eloquent speaker who mesmerized his audience. He died in his prime at the age of 53 at home in Marquand House in late 1954. Everyone on campus grieved for him. In the evening, his body was placed in Assembly Hall so people could pass by and pay their respects. The next morning, thousands of students gathered at the University and insisted on carrying his coffin to the end of Bliss Street where an ambulance was waiting to take the coffin to the Anglo-American Cemetery. Many cars took part in the funeral procession. It was one of the largest funerals ever seen in Ras Beirut.

Dr. Constantin Zurayk was named vice president after Penrose died. I was among the graduates who received diplomas from him in 1955. I got a B.A in Economics. The Department of Economics was then headed by John Harbell. Other faculty members included Albert Badr, Paul Khlat, Youssef Sayegh, Talha Al-Yafi, Asaad Nasr, Nabeel Saadeh, Saeeb Jaroudi and Hikmat Nabulsi. At the time the University included the Faculties of Medicine, Pharmacy (it was closed in 1965), Engineering, Agriculture, Arts and Sciences, and Business. It also included a number of distinguished Arab and American faculty members with expertise in a wide range of specialties. There were 3,500 students from Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, and some Gulf countries in addition to students from Africa who were financially supported by the Point Four Program, which was a US government program to aid developing countries.

Memories of Students
I have many fond memories from my student days especially involving students in the Departments ]of Economics and Business Administration. Among the people I remember are the twins Nadim and Samir Khalaf, George Medawwar, Safa Janudi, Ibrahim Melhem, Louay Jabi, Riyad Tabbara, Riyad Yusuf Salameh, Raja Matar, Abdul Hamid Fakhoury, Usama Afifi, Suheil Nasser, Peter Karam, Salah Dabbagh, Roy Karaoglan, Ameen Dana, Saeed Barraj,Nazih Bsat and Ghazi and Farouk Jabr. Outside the Economics Department there was Abbas Khalaf (former minister) and the most famous student at AUB in the early to mid 1950s, Abdelazim Quaraman. He became part of AUB's history. There is a funny story about him. Abdelazim, nicknamed Azzoum, enrolled in AUB's in 1941 from Haifa first at I.C and graduated from AUB in 1955 with a BA in political science. He should have graduated in 1950, but he kept changing his major. During the graduation ceremony, he arrived in an open top car, standing to greet the students who had gathered for the ceremony. When his name was called, everyone stood up and applauded. This prompted the late Prime Minister Saeb Salam, under whose patronage the ceremony was being held, to ask Dr. Constantin Zurayk if "Azzoum" was the most distinguished student at AUB.

After the ceremony, a huge group of students walked with him to Faysal Restaurant where the owner Farid Faysal prepared a special dish, which he called the "Azzoum Split." The next day, Azzoum received a telegram from his former classmate, the Jordanian Minister of Economy Hamad El-Farhan. It said: "We were surprised and stunned by the news of your success. Please confirm by asking Registrar Farid Fuleihan." Ironically, after graduation, Abdul Azim got better job offers at higher salaries than his colleagues. He ended up in Saudi Arabia where he worked as a public relations officer at the US Air Force Base in Dhahran.He passed away three years ago in Amman.

There was also a bright student named Riyad Rida Irani, who graduated early in 1953 when he was only 19 years old. He later became a distinguished chemical scientist and was eventually named president of Occidental Company. He is now vice co-chairman of AUB's Board of Trustees and one of the most renowned businessmen in the United States.

As for the bright twins Nadim and Samir Khalaf, I have so many cherished memories of them. They were more than twins; they were brothers and friends. They were one person. You said "Hello Nadim" and you got the answer "I am Samir." You said "Hello Samir" and you got the reply "I am Nadim." They always looked alike and dressed alike and sat side-by-side in class. Even their grade average was similar. They played all kinds of sports. Once they were running in two competing teams in a 1,500-meter race and they insisted on finishing shoulder-to-shoulder and the two teams were declared co-winners, despite the fact that their friend Samir Khalidi's kept prodding Nadim, who was on his team, to try and beat his brother. The twins only parted twice: once when Samir shifted from economics to social studies, and then when Nadim passed away in 1995, while he was in the prime of his life.

As for Dr. Riyad Tabbarah, Lebanon's former ambassador to Washington, and former dean of Health Sciences, he was a top-notch comedian who imitated teachers both in how they moved and in their style in the classroom. Additionally, he was a restless dynamo who never could stay still in class and who constantly cracked jokes and had something to say about every student. It is said that he contributed many jokes that his brother Wassim Tabbarah used in his show.

Events witnessed at the University
In 1951-55, there were many political upheavals on campus. For example, students mounted a large demonstration in March 1954 against the Baghdad Pact. Security forces quelled the demonstration harshly; Hassan Abou Ismail was killed and Mustafa Nasrallah suffered injuries from which he never recovered. As a result, the University Administration ordered Al-Urwa al-Wuthqa Association to disband. Some students were expelled, and others received warnings. Some of those who left AUB to pursue their education in Egypt or the United States are Thabet Mahayni, the late Adnan Faraj, Faysal Khadra, Ramzi Dalloul, Omar Barazi, Ghassn Barazi, martyr Bassel Kubaisy who was assassinated by Musad in Paris in 1973 the late Sami Sanbar, the late Makram Odeh, Saeda Husseini, Samira Abou Ghazaleh, Al-Hakam Darwaza,Omar Fadel and others. All of them were members of Al-Urwa al-Wuthqa Association.

Cultural and Sports Activities
In the same period (1951-55), cultural and sports activities were at their zenith at AUB. There were several active associations on campus including Al-Urwa al-Wuthqa and the Civic Welfare League (CWL). The CWL published a 36-page monthly magazine called "Focus for Social Affairs," which was edited by Tahseen Tagi and later by Michael Madonian.

Al-Urwa al-Wuthqa Association was founded in 1918 and was a focus for cultural and political activity on campus. Between 1951 and 1954, it was headed respectively by Abdul Fattah Jandali, late Elie Bouri, Thabet Mahayni, and finally Maurice Tabri. The decision to disband the association was taken after the March 1954 events, which I mention above. The association included various political groups at the University such as the Arab Nationalists, the Baathists,Syrian Natinalist and the Communists. Competition for the administrative positions in the association was fierce, but they usually went to the Arab Nsationalist Movement.

Al-Urwa al-Wuthqa Association activities included concerts and plays at West Hall. I remember one performance by Halim Al-Roumi and Wadeeh El Safi, another by Fairuz, and a sketch performed by the Rahbani Brothers. Among the students who distinguished themselves as actors and comedians were Izzeddin Sobh, Shareef Alami, Nahida Fadli Dajani, Shafeeq Hout, Maurice Tabry, and Amal Rassam.President Cammile Chamoun anf his wife Zalfa attended a play at West Hall named Queen of Tadmur and congratulated students on their performance.

One of the biggest cultural events at AUB was the visit by the dean of Arab literature Taha Hussein, who came at the invitation of Vice President Fouad Sarrouf and Chairman of the Arabic Language Department Jibrail Jabbur in 1955. Assembly Hall and the outside yard were filled with Arab literary figures and AUB students who had all come to listen to Taha Hussein speak about the future of Arab culture. A few days later, Taha Hussein took part in a debate entitled "Who Does the Writer Write For: The Public or the Private?" with writer Raif Khoury. Egyptian novelist Mahmoud Taymour also came to AUB and gave a lecture in West Hall in 1954, as did the famous Syrian poet Omar Abou-Risheh who read his famous Arabic poem "My Nation".

Al-Urwa al-Wuthqa also organized the first Arab book exhibition in Beirut in 1952, under the supervision of Adeeb Qawar.

Sports activity on campus was intense. The Athletics Department was headed by Abdul Sattar Trabulsi, champion of Lebanon and the Arab world in pistol shooting. He was assisted by Saifeddin Sidani and Robert Paoli. The football team included many elite players such as the late Doro Hambakides, Michel Saad, Muteeh Abbarah, Abdallah Shaheen, Qusayy Jabiri, late Nassouh Qabbani, Toufic Abu Zeid, Johnny Iskandar, Anis Taher, Mimi Antiba and Sameer Sanbar. After this group graduated, the team consisted of Victor Shibr, Nassib Abou Hamad, Ziyad Habash, Antoine Baaqleeni, Ameer (Iranian player), Talal Hikmat, Yanal Hikmat, Waleed Asfour, Hindawi , Ramzi Haddad, Makram Rahhal, the brothers Ramzi and Sami Alamuddin, and others. The AUB varsity team did very well against strong Lebanese, Syrian, and Turkish teams.

The AUB basketball team included Ambassador Khalil Mekkawi, engineer Varouje Azadian, FEA Professor George Ayoub, engineer Farouq Midani, Dr. Ibrahim Dabbous, faculty member Samir Deeb, agricultural expert Samir Badawi ,brothers Samir Nadeem khalafa,Marwan Rashashas well as former Minister Farouq Barbeer who was coach of the Riyadi Club team for many years. The famous Riyadi team won Lebanon's championship for three consecutive years, with AUB students serving as its backbone. Student Roy Karaoglan was Lebanon's tennis champion in the 1950 competing with late Sameer Khoury for Lebanons title .

AUB students also excelled in track and field. Farouq Khartabeel and Abdul-Hamid el-Fil did well in short distance races. In long distance events, Alex Abou Jaoudeh, Rashed Ar-Rashed (he was Kuwaiti and later became Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Michel Tawil were the stars. In the high jump,the late Dr. Samir Shabb was Lebanon's champion. In body building, Saqr Fakhri, Ghazi Khankan, and Raja Abou Shaqra were AUB champions. Fawwaz Najiyyeh was the weight lifting champion; Ghazi Qaddoura, Peter Karam, and Safa Janoudi were prominent in table tennis.In swimming and diving Dr Kamal Bakhazi,Victor Shiber and Ali Hoss were stars.

Among the exciting sports activities held every year was the traditional football match between Arts and Sciences and Engineering. Preparations began on campus with attacks and counter attacks by students from both faculties using water balloons and anything they could lay their hands on as ammunition. Ambushes and stratagems continued until the two teams descended to the Green Field where supporters converged in large demonstrations with drums and clarions. Supporters of the winning team celebrated all night and supporters of the losers went to bad early and dreamed of revenge next year.

Among the leisure activities, one of the highlights was the Folk Dance Festival that was held on the Green Field every May with thousands of students and spectators in attendance.

CONSTANTIN ZURAYK AND PAUL LEONARD (1955-58)
After graduating in 1955 with a BA in economics I decided to prepare for a master's degree. Due to my difficult financial situation as a Palestinian student, I applied for employment as a part-time research assistant at the Institute of Economic Research, which was headed by Dr. Albert Badr. The institute was about to produce two studies: one on the oil sector and its work force in Saudi Arabia; the other involved preparing industrial statistics on Lebanon. Besides Director Albert Badr, the institute included Paul Khlat (vice director), Hikmat Nabulsi, Simon Siksak,Dr. Churchil, Toufiq Bawarchi, Yakub Hurani, Sami Baaqlini, Salah Sawaya, Wadad Fleihan (aunt of the late Minister Basil Fuleihan), as well as former Minister Elias Saba, Youssef Lahoud, Nadim Khalaf, and Yusuf Shibl. This Institute was funded by the Ford Foundation and was active for several years.

University activity peaked in 1958 with the student elections for the chairmanship of the Arts and Sciences committee. The competition was very close between Salah Dabbagh and Fawwaz Najiyyeh and ended with Salah's victory. A year later, the late Abdul Hamid Sharaf (Jordan's prime minister who passed away in 1980) competed against Issam Naaman, former minister and former member of parliament.

Around this time (October 1956) the tripartite attack on Egypt took place, which led to demonstrations both on and off campus and to protest marches to the British and French Embassies. But, classes resumed a few days later. Dr. Consantin Zurayk was still vice president at this time. In early 1957, President Paul Leonard arrived to take office as president. He spoke at Commencement that year.

In early July 1957, I graduated with a master's degree in economics with my friend the late Dr. Nadim Khalaf. This is the end of my recollections of AUB as a student. I went to work in Saudi Arabia in the Ministry of Finances and National Economy. In 1966, I returned to AUB to give a lecture in West Hall about the confrontation between the Keynesian and Monetarist Schools. The second phase of my AUB recollections, this time as a faculty member, started in 1971.

SAMUEL KIRKWOOD (1965-76)
I joined the School of Business in 1971. It was headed by Dr. Nimr Eid and included Dr. Emil Ghattas, Dr. Nabil Shaath, Dr. Edward Armali, Dr. Sandra Richard, Dr. Ayman Midani, and Mr. Aziz Marmoura. Dr. Ashour, ex- head of the faculty who presided after Sheikh Saeed Himadeh retired traveled to Kuwait to work on consultation for the Kuwaiti Fund for Development. It is widely known that during the time that Sheikh Said Hamadeh was head of the faculty, it graduated many students who went on to excel in their fields. Sheikh Hamadeh was assisted by renowned professors such as Issam Ashour, Moussa Husseini, Burhan Dajani, Salim Hoss, and others.

The AUB president at the time was Dr. Samuel Kirkwood, a gynecologist, who was assisted by Deans Terry Prothro (Arts and Sciences) and Raymond Ghosn (FEA) and Dean of Students Robert Njeimi. During his term, the new AUB hospital was built (considered the most important health facility in the Middle East) and Nicely Hall was completed.

Two major developments took place during President Kirkwood's term. There was the long strike of 1974, which students staged to protest tuition increases. The students occupied all university buildings for 21 days and were evicted by Lebanese Army commandos upon the request of the university administration. The second event was the assassination of FEA Dean Raymond Ghosn and Dean of Students Robert Njeimi by a student who had been expelled. Dean Ghosn was killed in front of FEA at 10 in the morning, and Dean Njeimy was killed 15 minutes later. The assassin then headed to College Hall to kill President Kirkwood but was unable to reach his office. Meanwhile news of the attack had spread and security forces in the building surrounded the killer. Negotiations were directed by Dr. Najib Abu Haidar who was an AUH doctor and former minister. The killer surrendered and was taken to court and imprisoned.

In the early 1970s, much of the academic and cultural activity reflected the deteriorating political situation in the country. When the Lebanese war broke out in 1975, academic life stumbled and we tried to finish the academic year quickly so that graduating students would not lose a year.

Among the painful memories of that period is the death of business administration student Pierre Zeina who travelled to campus to learn that he had won the Penrose Award and then was murdered on the way back home during a sectarian abduction incident along Beirut's Green Line.

In 1974, Dr. Elie Salem became dean of Arts and Sciences and remained in that post until the Israeli invasion of 1982. He was appointed minister of foreign affairs by President Amin Gemayel. He was succeeded as dean by Dr. Lutfi Diab, who remained the dean until his retirement in 1997.

MALCOLM KERR (1981-84)
I left AUB in early July 1975 and joined Dar Al Handassa, (Shair & Co. consultants), which was owned by Dr. Kamal Shair. I stopped teaching for six years.

In 1981, Dr. Malcolm Kerr arrived to take up the post of president of AUB. We had been close friends when we were together at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) when I was a PhD student (1961-63) and President of Arab students Cluband and he was an assistant professor of political science and an advisor to Arab students at the university. After his arrival at AUB, we met for the first time in 15 years. He invited me to lunch at Marquand House and asked me to return to teaching, either full-time or part-time if I wanted to stay at Dar Al Handassa. I began teaching Managerial Economics in the Faculty of Business Administration.

President Kerr's objective was to unite AUB, which had split into its original Ras Beirut campus and an annex in Achrafiyeh. He was also working to develop a master plan for the University. Fate decided otherwise. He was assassinated on January 18, 1984 by an individual who posed as a student and who shot him in the head with a silencer-equipped gun as he got off the elevator in College Hall. The killer then escaped.

Malcolm Kerr was taken to AUH but he was dead on arrival. His body was cremated in the university morgue. Some of his ashes were buried under the tree facing Assembly Hall and some were taken to his hometown in the United States. With Malcolm Kerr's death, many dreams of developing AUB were lost and the country was at war, 1984-89. Malcolm Kerr died as a relatively young man, being only 53 years old. His father Doctor Kerr had been professor at AUB in the 1930s and his mother was dean of Women Students and a professor of social sciences at AUB in the 1950s. Malcolm Kerr is remembered for his decision to open the gates of AUB to Ras Beirutis so they could sleep in the basements of university buildings during the Israeli shelling and for his refusal to let an Israeli officer enter campus in uniform during the Israeli occupation of Beirut. Malcolm's son Steve was a professional basketball player for the Chicago Bulls and played with Michael Jordan for three years.

After President Kerr's death, the Board of Trustees decided not to appoint a new president until the situation cleared up. Dr. Samir Tabet was named acting president until Calvin Plimpton was named president, a position he would hold until 1987. During this period (1984-87), teaching at the University was fraught with danger because of the so-called war of the militias. There was shelling and sniping in the streets and alleyways near campus. Travelling to and from the University was difficult for both faculty and students because of the great risks. The "war of the flag" between the Amal Movement and the Socialist Progressive Party broke out at 12 noon on November 22, 1985. Many students were stranded on campus as fighting spread to the streets adjacent to the University. They had to stay inside until the fighting stopped. Their parents could not call them because there were no mobile phones back then. An instructor or student who left home and headed to the University in those days did not know what the day would hold for him and whether or not he was going to return safely to his family.

Despite the harsh conditions during that period, sports and cultural activity did not stop. I still remember the concerts given by the Beirut Heritage Band led by Salim Sahhab in Assembly Hall. Football games continued between the university team, Nijmeh club and Ansar club , and other football teams. The passion for life at AUB was stronger than death.

FREDERIC HERTER (1987-94)
In 1987, I joined the School of Business as a full-time assistant professor. Dr. Emil Ghattas led the school then; the faculty consisted of Nimr Eid, Mohsen Khalil, Aziz Marmoura, George Najjar, Tala Bssat, Khalil Qotran, Rita Gotcharian, Lina Makarem (administrative assistant to the chairman of the department), and Hayat Adiba.

In 1987, the security situation in Beirut and Lebanon stabilized and a number of students from Jordan, Syria, and Kuwait joined AUB. In March 1989, however, war broke out again as fighting began between groups loyal to General Michel Aoun and the Syrian forces. Many shells fell on campus, one of which led to a fire in the Agricultural Labs that were partially burned. Classes were suspended for three months. Students were not able to graduate in June that year. In October, the administration extended the academic year to the end of December.

The other serious event took place on November 8, 1991 when a car bomb exploded near College Hall, facing Jafet Library. The car had entered campus after breaking through the Sea Side Gate. The explosion was so strong it threw the clock tower to the garden east of the library and a major portion of the building was destroyed; amazingly, part of the west wing remained standing. The front of Jafet Library was badly damaged.

The morning after, faculty and students gathered in great sadness to stare at the wreckage from the explosion. Everyone had fond memories of College Hall. It was particularly moving to see some faculty members from the Department of History climbing on a crane to save books, papers, and research material despite the inherent danger. The Board of Trustees decided immediately to rebuild College Hall and repair Jafet Library. Twenty million dollars was raised from alumni all over the world and from the US government. College Hall was rebuilt between 1992 and 1997 and turned out to be an engineering and architectural masterpiece. The new building looked just the same as the old building from the outside, but it had more space and two new underground floors. The donors' names were engraved on the external wall of College Hall, in recognition of their help.

At the time of the explosion Dr. Ibrahim Salti was deputy president since Dr Herter was still outside Lebanon; chemical scientist Makhlouf Haddadin was vice president for academic affairs and Dr. Adnan Iskandar was vice president for public relations. Lutfi Diab continued as dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Nassir Sabah was dean of FEA and Dr. Adnan Mroueh succeeded my former classmate Raja Khoury as dean of Medicine. My friend and former classmate Riyad Tabbarah was named dean of Health Sciences. It has to be said that this group led AUB to a safe harbor despite the difficult political and financial circumstances surrounding the country and AUB itself.

In 1995, history professor Robert Haddad arrived to take up the helm but he spent most of his time in New York. Dr. Samir Makdisdi continued as Acting President. President Haddad stayed for only two years and quit after a disagreement with the Board of Trustees.

JOHN WATERBURY (1997 TO THE PRESENT)
In 1997, the Board of Trustees appointed Dr. John Waterbury as president after he was selected by a special committee. He took up office in 1998. John Waterbury is a social scientist with broad interests who has written extensively about the Middle East and the Arab World, particularly Egypt. He is fluent in both written and spoken Arabic. After he took office he selected Dr. Peter Heath as provost to be responsible for academic affairs. Dr. Heath has a PhD from Harvard and is a specialist in the civilisation and languages of the Middle East.

Dr. Waterbury devoted his time to drafting a master plan for the University to define AUB's objective and a strategy for the next 20 years and raised the necessary money for the master plan. Also in 1997, Dr. Khalil Bitar, a renowned physicist became dean of Arts and Sciences.

The first construction project at AUB was the Hostler Student Center, which costs 11.7 million dollars. The money was donated by Ambassador Charles Hostler who lived in Lebanon and loved the country. The Center for American Studies And Research (CASAR) was also established with funding by Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal. Two years earlier, the renovation of West Hall was completed with the addition of state-of-the-art acoustic equipment. In 2000, the School of Business was established as an independent faculty; Dr. George Najjar was appointed its first dean in August of that year. The faculty was inaugurated in a ceremony where the late Prime Minister Rafic B. Hariri, President Waterbury, and the new dean spoke. Dean Najjar started to expand the faculty by adding four new fields of specialization: Money, Marketing, Administration, and Information Technology. There are currently more than 1,200 students, including 180 who are in the MBA program. In 2003, the faculty was renamed for Saudi business leader Suliman Olayan, whose family donated 20 million dollars to develop the faculty and build a new center for it on the lower campus, facing the Corniche. The groundbreaking for the new building took place in June 2005.

Among my fond memories from this period is the riveting evening with the great poet Nizar Qabbani in Assembly Hall after his return from London after a long absence. Thousands of students and members of the general public, along with university administrators came to listen to his new poems. The second memorable evening was the ceremony on December 4, 2004 to honor Zaki Nassif who was a music student at the University in the late 1930s. Walid Gholmiyeh and the Conservatoire played that evening.

I also have memories of working as a full-time associate professor with Dean George Najjar and others such as Associate Dean Said Fakhani, Nimr Eid, Ibrahim Othman, Khalil Hindi, Tony Feghali, Youssef Sidani, Assem Safieddin, Ahmad Ismail, Mahdi Matar, Hanin Abdallah, Rita Gotcharian, and other esteemed professors. There are now 37 full-time professors at the School of Business.

I would describe Dean George Najjar as a jovial and witty man who has particular skills at public relations. He is a man who was until quite recently burdened with responsibilities because he was also in charge of AUB's Regional External Programs (REP) and kept it going under the most difficult conditions. Said Fakhani has relentless energy and is extremely patient with faculty and students. He is always very even-tempered and rarely gets angry when dealing with students. His motto is: the student is always right until it is proven otherwise.

As for Dr. Nimr Eid, the old warrior and the school's memory bank, he complains that some students today don't work as hard as students did in the past. As for friend Ibrahim Othman, who always speaks up at faculty meetings, he is the trusted guardian of information technology and advocates its use throughout Lebanon, particularly in government offices if they are serious about administrative reform.

Friend Tony Feghali holds the banner of Bicharaf, which calls on students to adhere to the strictest standards of integrity in everything they do. As for Professor Tony Sabbagh, he is often heard saying, "Who can I complain to when everyone is against me?"

There are so many other memories-of the dean's assistant Mrs. Hala Azar, external training supervisor Tony Sabbagh, Mrs. Hayat Deebeh, Mrs. Nada Khalidi, technology supervisor Mrs. Maya Helou, Miss Anna Maria Abou-Rached, Mrs. Amal Alawiyyeh, Mrs. Roula Murtada, and our kind messenger Hadi Bou Kamel. They all work as a team. Mrs. Hala likes to remind everybody that she is the one in charge when the dean is away. Maya Helou does not sit still in her office; you can always meet her on the faculty stairs for a quick appointment. Hayat Dibeh, the student affairs assistant, looks like an inspector who knows all the details of a situation when she contacts a student to tell him or her that there is a problem. Anna Maria Abi Rached loves to prepare student statistics. Nada Khalidi is the first one to call attention to any injustice.

On April 22, 2005, the MBA students held their annual party at the Mövenpick Hotel to honor Dr. Nimr Eid and myself. We both received memorial gifts and then I gave the following "Farewell Speech":

"Dear dean, associate dean, respected professors, dear students.
In a life spent working as an economic advisor in the Ministries of Finances, at banks, and as a university professor, I can say with a clear conscience that working with the "School of Business" was the most enjoyable for the following reasons:

  1. My emotional attachment to the building that houses the faculty. I was a student in this building for a long time and attended many classes there. In the room that Dr. Said Fakhani now occupies, I passed my oral examination for the BA in economics.
  2. The friendly relationship between faculty members. I have never seen anything like this in any other institution where I have worked. During the 18 years I have spent here as a full-time professor I have never had any problems throughout the deanships of the late Emil Ghattas, Nimr Eid, Saadeh Shami, Pierre Abu Azza, Imad Baalbaki, and finally George Najjar.
  3. Serving students at a great university that has graduated so many men and women who have gone on to leadership positions in the Arab world is truly a great honor.
I pledge to stay in touch with all my friends, professors, and students. I wish all of you every success as the school moves to its new location under the leadership of Dean George Najjar. I say thank you and goodbye."

And so I end my half century of AUB memories.