Fall 2006 Vol. V, No. 1
From the President: Opening Ceremony
OCTOBER 2, 2006 | Speech by President Waterbury
Despite the terrible events of the past two and a half months, my message
is one of pride and hope. Last June 24, in my introduction to the ceremony
for awarding honorary doctorates, I said the following:
Our honorees remind us of lasting values, human will, the rewards of perseverance,
and, perhaps above all, the virtue of patience coupled with determination.
They teach us how to keep moving when the ground is shaking beneath our
I had no idea at that time just how violently the ground would shake in
a few short weeks; I had no idea how powerfully would the situation after
July 12 demand our perseverance, patience, and determination. I did not
anticipate how the crisis would call forth our humanity toward our colleagues
and friends within the AUB family, but even more so toward our fellow
citizens whose lives were turned up side down, and too often ended, by
the events following July 12.
AUB is nearly 140 years old. Is anyone surprised that we rose to this
occasion as we have to all others preceding it?...
As the crisis unfolded, as the bombing of the southern districts intensified
and the flood of displaced persons moving north swelled, VP President
for Administration, George Tomey, assembled a Crisis Response Team (CRT)
which was comprised of most of the senior academic and non academic managers
on campus. In organizing the CRT, George called on his long experience
during the Lebanese civil war. It is a pity that George Tomey ever acquired
this experience, but all of us at AUB owe him a great debt of gratitude
for stepping up when the ground was shaking.
The CRT oversaw the evacuation of foreign students and staff who felt
obliged to leave or were instructed by their embassies to do so. I am
sure that all those who had to leave did so with a heavy heart. Some may
have felt relief but none were happy. Others, like myself, were trapped
outside and uncertain how to return. I can assure you our frustration
was profound. Many people throughout the University, including those in
Human Resources, personnel, dean of students office, International Student
Services, finance, the Registrars Office, Admissions, Business Services,
and in the Emergency Response Team played critical roles in the evacuation
operation and in ensuring that the University was prepared for all eventualities
throughout the entire conflict...
As you all know Israeli air and ground assaults cleared most of southern
Lebanon of its civilian population. When I returned to Lebanon in early
August, I heard that Dr. Nagy Saghir of our Faculty of Medicine, had lost
family members in Bint Jbeil. I sent him a message of concern and received
the following message from him: We always wish that nobody goes
thru wars. Modern weaponry has become so destructive that I think we should
all urgently work for the goal No more wars!...
I believe that Dr. Saghirs attitude in the face of loss is fully
in the spirit of AUB. He seeks an end to violence, not revenge. As a faculty
member and a physician his oath and his duty is to protect life, to help
people build for the future. That is the mission of all of us at AUB.
A university is a repository of knowledge, it is a place in which knowledge
is created, but above all it is a factory for the future. The physicians
guiding command is do no harm. That is AUBs command
as well, to which I would add, Do some good!
Today, despite the events of the summer, despite our doubts and fears
about the near future, 7,202 students have registered at AUB. Nine hundred
eighty four are graduate students while the rest are undergraduates, including
480 freshmen. Twenty percent of the undergraduates are non Lebanese. These
students are in our hands. They will build someones future. I hope
it will be Lebanons and the regions. But the important point
is that we at AUB, and in all institutions of learning and training, are
the force for the future. It is a lofty task, a mission more sacred than
ever, a challenge that we, the faculty and staff, should accept with joy
and with humility.