WAAAUB Holds First Ever International Convention: Commitment to AUB and Enhancing Ties among Alumni  
AUBMC Receives US Accreditation
Seven New Members to Join the AUB Board of Trustees
Establishment of the Michael Atiyah Chair in Mathematical Sciences at AUB
AUB Nutrition and Food Science Department Named as WHO Collaborating Center
Academic Excellence Rewarded: AUB's Merit Scholarships
AUB Announces New Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service
Shahe Kazarian's - Reflections of My I (Published by Cadmus Project: 2007)
Faculty Profile: Patrick Lewtas
Professor Mrad Lectures Abroad
Staff Profile: Ramzieh Saad
Essay Competition Honors Arab World's 'Prince of Poets'
Donald Mitchell Examines Control Over City Streets
The Political Consequences of American Romanticism
Juan Cole Points at Failures in United States
Scholar Studies Impact of Terrorism on American Imports
Ambassador Evaluates Role of United Kingdom in the Arab World
A View of Islam in the Eighth Century
The Need for Dialogue Between Religions
Istanbul's Pleasures Revealed
National Identity Without Citizenship?
On-line Workshops Help Train Journalists
Student Artwork Exhibited at Jafet Library
Amulets and Talismans at the AUB Museum
Living with Animals: To Prevent Torture and the Impact of War
Women's Auxiliary Holiday Luncheon
Home of Hope Orphans Tour AUB Medical Center
Italian Opera Recital at Assembly Hall
Strengthening Ukraine and Lebanese Relations with Music
AUB Music Club Concert
From Sufi Chant to Oriental Jazz
AUB Choir and Choral Society Celebrate Christmas
Benefit Christmas Concerts Help Ayadina Center
Red Cross Club Forms Human Ribbon
January 2008 Vol. 9 No. 4

WAAAUB Holds First Ever International Convention:
Commitment to AUB and Enhancing Ties among Alumni

Keynote speaker HE Najib Mikati

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."

The set of eight objectives which the WAAAUB Board of Directors decided to focus on in the coming months included enhancing outreach to alumni worldwide by identifying new alumni and encouraging old and new ones to join the AUB on-line community in order to remain connected with the University and with other alumni. Moreover, the convention pledged to activate WAAAUB chapters, achieve financial self-sufficiency within five years, and develop and submit an annual performance report on WAAAUB activities for each year.

The weekend convention offered a first-time opportunity for 25 chapter presidents and representatives as well as alumni from all over the world to meet and exchange their views on issues of interest to them and their alma mater. More than 100 alumni from 17 different countries over three continents participated in the meeting.

Speakers at the opening ceremony urged alumni to commit to both AUB and Lebanon by offering their talents and moral and financial support. Former Prime Minister Najib Mikati was the keynote speaker; AUB President John Waterbury, WAAAUB President Khalil Makkawi, and WAAAAUB council chair Faisal Mutawa of the Olayan School of Business Advisory Board also spoke.

President Waterbury, welcoming participants, commended Trustee Ali Ghandour for being instrumental in helping establish the WAAAUB, which will "enhance the representation of our international alumni in alumni and university affairs while honoring and recognizing the great work carried out by existing chapters and branches over the past decades.

"If we could count on the steady involvement of 20 percent of our alumni year in and year out, that would mean benefiting from the talents of some 10,000 individuals," he added. "I am not thinking only of fundraising, although that is important, but more of the expertise and insights our alumni bring to us at the University to make sure our curriculum and research are addressing the real problem-that our education is preparing our students for the real challenges they will face.

"Do not think for a minute that you as alumni cannot make a difference," he said, noting how a proposal made by prominent alumni and trustees had convinced the University to establish a chemical and petroleum engineering department.

"I am counting on the WAAAUB to be a major conduit to similar kinds of dialogue between the University and its alumni. And I am sure I will not be disappointed," he said.

WAAAUB President Khalil Makkawi welcomed participants to this "historic event," the aim of which is to strengthen the ties among alumni as well as their ties with the University in order to help it achieve its educational missions.

"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.