Ghassan Tueni on Current Events
Ghassan Tueni, publisher of An-Nahar as well as author, diplomat,
and intellectual, aired his views on current world events on May
14 in Nicely Hall. Tueni, one of AUB’s most distinguished
graduates, bounced from headline to headline, reflecting his calling
as a newspaperman extraordinaire. The talk, hosted by the Civilization
Sequence Program of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, was attended
by students, faculty, and honored guests—including US Ambassador
Tueni spoke informally, frequently joking with the audience. He
dismissed Lebanese politics as “not worth discussing,”
and the Arab states in general as “totally disintegrated”
and also not worth discussing. He said that a major peril was “American
domination in the name of terrorism” and expressed bewilderment
at US “empire-building” in an age when empires can no
longer endure. He dwelt also on the new role of the United Nations
after the Iraq war, proposing several possible amendments to reinvent
the body: enlarging the “veto club,” creating a permanent
peacekeeping army, and reviewing and revising the decision-making
process. Tueni dismissed the notion of “clash of civilizations,”
preferring to dub the modern age “an era of the contrary.”
In the end, Tueni admitted that his questions outnumbered his solutions:
“I have no proposal to make…we have no recipes, we only
have topics for debate.” On a positive note, Tueni was hopeful
for a reinvigorated dialogue between the major cultures of the world,
and on a similar note he takes “very seriously a new Euro-Arab
Vigorously agreeing with Samir Khalaf, head of the Center for Behavioral
Research, that AUB was the most important public space in the Arab
world, Tueni was clearly back in his element: debating the great
issues of the day with his peers at the University where his college
Folk Dance Festival Celebrates Cultures
AUB’s 30th Annual Folk Dance Festival brought a visual feast
of vibrant color and coordinated movement to the Green Field on
May 18. Provost Peter Heath delivered an opening address for this
“fine and valued tradition” and Dean of Student Affairs
Maroun Kisirwani, chairperson of the Folk Dance Festival Committee,
thanked the participating students for “offering us an evening
of music and dance.”
The dancers hailed from secondary schools across the country, each
costumed and dancing in the style of a chosen region or country,
from the United States to Africa to Russia. The groups, festooned
in brilliant colors, took their places on the field and began the
show with a full-cast rendition of the traditional Lebanese dabkeh.
Each group then took the prime spot “on stage” before
the crowded audience and performed the dance they had spent months
rehearsing. The most popular tunes brought the audience to its feet
dancing and singing. One crowd-pleaser was the African dance, a
first for the festival, in which the dancers leaped and gyrated
to polyrhythmic music, boys flashing spears and girls swaying underneath
clutched bowls of fruit. Beyond the packed audience gathered on
the field, many AUB students looked down at the festivities from
nearby building rooftops.
In introducing the festival program, President John Waterbury emphasized
the “importance of bringing diverse people of diverse lands
together in a spirit of joy, understanding, and peaceful cooperation.”
For the thousands who attended the event, the grand performance
was certainly a celebration of diversity through the beauty of costume
The Fun of AUB Outdoors
Ten-minute ping-pong matches. Paint fights. Hordes of laughing children.
Students in medieval garb parading through the crowds. Twisters
on the Green Oval. Those were only a few of the many pleasurable
sights at the annual AUB Outdoors during the May 24–25 weekend.
Outdoors, a get-together event popular with students and especially
with the youth of Beirut, transformed the area stretching from the
Green Oval to West Hall into a veritable carnival, including snacks
and activity stands sponsored by student groups and local businesses
that catered to the appetites of the crowd. This year’s Outdoors
Committee was coordinated by Muhammad Ali Dbouk, a civil engineering
graduate, with tireless assistance from Director of Student Activities
About 32 AUB clubs and societies participated, many serving snacks
and beverages and others presenting a theme in line with their organization’s
purpose. On top of those activities, 13 student bands from AUB and
other area schools serenaded the crowds throughout the festival.
Despite a few concerns about the level of noise, the activities
went on without a hitch. The Art Club won the “Best Stand”
award for its castle design and art displays of sculpture, painting,
and tie-dye shirts, as well as for its popular paint fight; but
the younger attendees seemed drawn more to the Red Cross tent where
they jousted with balloons. “We tried to satisfy all tastes,”
explained Dbouk about the stands and the bands. Over $2,500 in prizes
were given away to a lucky few among the estimated crowd of 8,000.
The revenues from ticket sales will go to the participating organizations,
the future AUB Outdoors Committee, and charity. Without a doubt,
the success of Outdoors is a tribute to the teamwork and diligence
of the organizers in providing such a diversity of entertainment
for the wider community beyond AUB’s campus.
Vehicle Competition: Highlight of the FEA Student Conference
Engineering and Architecture students ended the year on a
high note at the second annual Faculty of Engineering and
Architecture Student Conference, held on May 30–31.
The conference included two full days of activities, presentations,
speeches, and receptions designed to provide a forum for students
to exhibit their research projects to the public. Students
also heard speeches by five distinguished alumni and one noted
scholar on their respective research and business experience.
Participation was voluntary, but many students took part in
the conference—72 of them from the fields of engineering,
architecture, and graphic design submitted abstracts to the
conference committee, 39 of which were selected for presentation.
Assistant Professor of Engineering Samer Abdallah, who was
one of the founding organizers of the conference last year,
was the coordinating chairperson this year. In explaining
the principal aim of the conference, he said it was to transform
the presentation of final year projects into a two-day affair
replete with numerous activities. “The conference,”
remarked Abdallah, is “a good learning experience for
students. It gives them the chance to learn how to write technical
papers and convey their ideas to a more general audience.
To submit their papers and have them accepted for presentation
is a valuable experience that inspires confidence in the students.”
Having the research papers reviewed and presented in a conference
context also “lets others benefit from their work.”
Awards of distinction and prize money were given to the authors
of the best papers in each field at the graduate and undergraduate
levels. The winning papers ranged in subject from an architectural
analysis of Lebanon (“New Raouche Shopping Center: Consuming
the Code,” by Yasmine al-Machnouk) to advanced electrical
engineering that may have a future impact on cutting-edge
technology (“Human Face Detection in Clustered Images,”
by Axel Davidian and Noha Ibrahim).
By far the most crowd-pleasing event of the FEA Conference
was the Human-Powered Vehicle Competition. Vehicles built
by the students—designed in accordance with specific
criteria such as efficiency, sturdiness, biomechanics, ergonomics,
and weight—were raced full-tilt over an ad hoc track
consisting of the pathways surrounding College Hall and Jafet
Memorial Library. Corporate sponsors paid for the construction
materials, but the cars were entirely built by the students.
Students and other spectators lined the “track”
to cheer their classmates as they hurtled along…and
to watch and groan when a car broke down and had to be pulled
into the “pit” area near College Hall for hasty
The design of the 14 vehicles that participated varied dramatically.
Some of the students sat in a normal bicycling position while
pedaling, others had to stretch out horizontally, and a few
powered the vehicle with their feet up in the air. Some cars
sported fancy airfoils; others rolled along on a low chassis.
The overall winner of the competition (for design as well
as for speed) was Car Number 0, which was sponsored by BP
and nicknamed “BPower.” Tony Attie, a member of
the winning team, attributed their success to “the genius
of the design and the hard work of the drivers.”
Sports News: AUB Hosts Universiad and the
Results of the Interfaculty Soccer Match
This year’s Universiad proved that AUB is much more than the
academic capital of Lebanon. For the fourth year in a row, AUB hosted
the Universiad, a country-wide sports championship open to the 42
member schools of the Lebanese Federation of University Sports,
of which AUB is a founding member. This year, on May 30, the spirited
rhythms of the Internal Security Forces Band hailed the scores of
young athletes as they paraded onto the Green Field decked in the
colors and equipment of their school and sport. On a dustblown field
and under a humid overcast sky, they proceeded to put on displays
of physical prowess and martial artistry, then topped them off with
an energetic traditional dabkeh. On the heels of that grand prelude,
Judge Nasri Lahoud, president of the federation, formally inaugurated
the “olympic” event with a speech, followed by remarks
of welcome and praise by Lebanon’s Minister of Sports, Dr.
Twenty universities participated in the Universiad, which was open
to both men and women and included a myriad of sports, from volleyball,
soccer, basketball, and tennis to ping-pong and chess. The games
were held on AUB’s indoor and outdoor courts, on the Green
Field, and in the spacious rooms of West Hall. AUB placed first
in several women’s competitions, among them soccer and ping-pong,
and the University’s chess team also came in first. In commenting
on the importance of the Universiad to AUB, Director of Athletics
Ghalib Halimi said, “It proves that AUB, which is the pioneer
university in Lebanon and the Arab world, has full capacity to organize
such a large sports event, and does it so well that it attracts
both regional and international media attention via satellite.”
The other hallmark sporting event at AUB, held on May 28, was
the annual interfaculty soccer game, which pitted the Faculties
of Arts and Sciences, Agricultural and Food Sciences, and Health
Sciences against the Faculties of Medicine and Engineering and
Architecture. The competing teams are usually made up of players
from both the varsity and junior varsity teams of the faculties,
who practice daily for weeks before the game. This year, the Medicine/Engineering
team prevailed in a heated defensive battle that gave it a hard-won
1-0 victory, under the leadership of its captain, computer science
major Faysal Arakji. There is no question in anyone’s mind
on campus that this interfaculty rivalry is bound to continue.
Back at West Hall
Newly renovated West Hall was theatrically reinaugurated on May
28, when “Hotel Paradiso,” a comic farce authored
by G. Feydeau and M. Desvalliers and performed by a cast of talented
students, played a five-day run. The play, which was directed
by long-time AUB thespian Peter Shebaya, was presented by the
Civilization Sequence Program (of which Shebaya is presently director)
and the Drama Club.
AUB’s rendition of the play was a merry-go-round of devious
intentions, thwarted liaisons, husband-wife spats, and misunderstandings.
A mock-up hotel provided the setting for the many door-slammings,
frantic comings and goings, and unexpected encounters that punctuated
the comic scenarios. The actors proved to be brilliant in delivering
the many jokes that called for perfect timing and subtle verbal
Assistant Director Hani Hassan, an MA graduate and now an AUB
faculty member, starred as the manipulative but unlucky Boniface,
while senior economics student Lea Hakim played his haughty wife
Angelique. Nadia Hassan (in the role of the scorned and oft-swooning
Marcelle) and Jawad Yehia (as her husband, the neglectful Cot)
are both undergraduates in computer science. The other cast members
also put on inspired performances—
particularly funny was business major Hady Tabbal as the stuttering,
bumbling Martin. His Freudian slips provided some of the most
hilarious moments in a play that is hardly lacking in humor.
The audience reaction to Hotel Paradiso was one of total delight.
Despite the heavy strain of preparing for approaching final exams,
the students put on a highly professional performance that brought
much pleasure to the AUB community.
IEEE Student Branch’s Website Tops International Competition
The AUB student branch club of the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers (IEEE) chalked up an impressive record in
this year’s IEEE worldwide website competition. The club’s
website was awarded third place in the international category
(just behind Boston University and Arizona State University).
It also swept away the regional competition—winning first
place over Turkey’s Hucettepe University and Twente University
of Technology of the Netherlands. Congratulations to the branch
on their hard work! Check out the winning IEEE website for yourself
Scholarship Fund Established in Honor of
Distinguished Alumnus Afif Abdul Wahab
On April 17, Ramzi Abdul Wahab and Dr. Rida Abdul Wahab presented
a check in the amount of $100,000 to establish an endowed scholarship
fund in the name of Dr. Afif and Mrs. Zamzam Abdul Wahab. The
Abdul Wahab family also pledged another $100,000 to the fund next
Dr. Afif Abdul Wahab, who passed away in early 2003, was born
in Al Mina, Tripoli. He earned his MD from AUB in 1941, and before
the age of 30 became a general surgeon and for a short while was
a member of AUB’s faculty.
In 1945 he founded, along with his colleague Daniel Katibah (AUB
MD ‘43), the Al Mina Hospital in Tripoli, and later the
Al Asi Hospital in Homs, Syria. In the early 1950s, he established
the first private hospital in Jeddah, and then successfully negotiated
a contract with ARAMCO to establish the Orient Hospital in Khobar.
He subsequently became a Saudi national, and for many years enjoyed
notable success there in the practice of medicine as well as in
Upon his retirement in 1973, Dr. Abdul Wahab began dedicating
his time to the community service activities he had been committed
to as a student, such as “The Association for Development
of Villages.” In 1991, the doctor marked the fiftieth anniversary
of his graduation from AUB by establishing an endowed scholarship
fund in the names of his father and uncle, Khayreddine and Adel
Dr. Afif Abdul Wahab and his wife Zamzam had four children: Ahmad
Ramzi (a pharmacist and businessman), Hamidah, Thuraya, and Mohammad
The Abdul Wahab family’s most recent gift of $100,000 will
be matched on a one-to-four basis by the Cleveland Dodge Foundation
through a special agreement between the Dodge Foundation and AUB,
thus adding another $25,000 to the University’s financial
aid endowment fund.
Fingerprints Student-Giving Program Grows
The Fingerprints program just keeps getting stronger and stronger.
Launched during the 2001–02 academic year by the Office
of Development in coordination with the Office of the Dean of
Student Affairs and the University Student Faculty Committee (USFC),
this student fundraising program encourages graduating students
to contribute to the education of their fellow students by donating
$25 or more to the Fingerprints Endowed Scholarship Fund. The
program provides an opportunity for graduating students to manifest
the AUB spirit of philanthropy and collegiality.
By the end of June 2003, 455 students from the class of 2003 had
come forward to leave their “fingerprints” at AUB—they
contributed more than a total of $13,000 to endowed financial
aid, and more are expected to contribute by the end of this year.
The class of 2002 had been just as supportive: 370 donors gave
a total of $11,000.
AUB trustee Dr. Kamal Shair and the USFC renewed their support
for academic year 2002–03. Trustee Shair once again matched
every $1 donated by students with $2—and the USFC made a
similar two-to-one match. In addition, AUB benefits from the Cleveland
H. Dodge Foundation Challenge Grant, whereby the foundation donates
$1 to the AUB Endowed Scholarship Fund for every $4 received from
AUB alumni or friends residing in the Middle East and Europe.
As a result, every $1 received from the class of 2003 actually
brings in $6.25. The total proceeds so far have exceeded $81,000—increasing
the Fingerprints Endowed Scholarship Fund to more than $130,000.
The return on the fund’s investment will provide financial
assistance to needy and qualified students at AUB.
All class 2003 donors were invited to a reception at Marquand
House, hosted by President John Waterbury on June 30, to celebrate
the success of the program in its second year. The increase in
student participation this year bodes well for the future; the
hope is that more and more “fingerprints” will endorse
this historical tradition of giving at AUB.
Bliss Society Events in North America
In spring 2003, members of AUB’s premier giving circle,
the Daniel Bliss Society, were recognized for their support of
the University at receptions in Houston, Washington, DC, and New
York City. Members of the society are friends and alumni of the
University who have donated $1,000 or more to AUB.
In Houston, 20 society members attended a reception at the Sheraton
Suites Hotel on May 10, which featured a special update on AUB
from the New York office Director of Development Nimr Ibrahim
and Associate Director of Development - Major Gifts Rima Zaitoon.
In Washington, DC, AUB Dean of the Faculty of Agricultural and
Food Sciences Nuhad Daghir greeted the gathering of approximately
50 Bliss Society members at the Park Hyatt Washington Hotel on
May 21, where he gave a presentation on the latest developments
at AUB and on the University’s Campus Master Plan. Among
the attendees were the former president of the DC Chapter, Hikmat
Nasr, who introduced Dagher and the chapter’s new president,
In New York City, on June 20, Bliss Society members enjoyed meeting
with AUB President John Waterbury at the River Club. President
Waterbury thanked the members for their past and current support
and urged them to visit the campus to see the fruit of their contributions.
The society’s chairperson, David Dodge, who was on hand
to meet the members, warmly praised the leadership of President
Waterbury and acknowledged his great vision for the University.
Among those attending the reception was Alice Studebaker, daughter
of the late Huntington Bliss, who was honorary chairperson of
the Daniel Bliss Society.
Marriage of AUB President John Waterbury
John Waterbury and Sarah Porter Thayer wed on Saturday, July 12
in Cambridge, Massachusets in the presence of close family. Dr.
and Mrs. Waterbury will reside on the AUB campus at Marquand House
and in Princeton, New Jersey.