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Spring 2006 Vol. IV, No. 3

AUB News

On February 28, 2006, President Waterbury addressed the AUB community in an open forum with a talk entitled “Future States of the University”. He discussed the questions that the University is asking itself as part of the strategic planning process, and the many possibilities for AUB’s future.

The full text and a forum for comments may be accessed at www.aub.edu.

Future States of the University
Excerpts

Our strategic planning initiative is leading us to consider not only the current state of the University, but also possible paths of evolution for AUB. For once our isolation and stagnation during the civil war may actually be an advantage. We do not have to go down the same paths as some of our peer institutions in the United States. Indeed, we have some very exciting opportunities to design innovative strategies. We are only at the beginning of re-establishing research as a central feature of academic excellence, so we have an opportunity to define what we mean by good research in ways that match our faculty’s capacity and our likely resources. We have not become part of the US ranking game so we have the opportunity to use our financial aid program to shape a more diverse undergraduate student body, socio-economically and by nationality. The decisions that will guide AUB’s future are very much in our hands.

I firmly believe that research and teaching complement each other. There is little doubt that a dynamic research environment attracts good faculty. Faculty quality, in turn, is a magnet that leads to student quality. Once faculty quality is established then we have a virtuous circle, a dynamic of good faculty attracting good students, in turn attracting good faculty.

To attract top-notch faculty, we need to re-think the research enterprise at AUB. We must find a balance in supporting research and ensuring quality teaching. We will not have the kind of funding that has sustained the research machine in the United States, nor can we set the same productivity schedules as are set at US research universities. I believe in promotion clocks and in productivity. The question for me is how much and how fast?

In bringing the two stools of teaching and research together, I make perhaps my most radical suggestion; we could weight research and teaching excellence equally. Deficiency in either domain would be fatal. My main concern is that AUB walk on both legs, and without a limp. I think that less may be more: we should do less research but better quality research. We should do less teaching but better quality teaching. In that way our students will receive a better education, we may become a regional research powerhouse, and our faculty may be able to juggle the nearly impossible set of demands currently placed upon them.

We need to keep focused on the quality of undergraduate education, because it is the major source of our income and it is at the core of our mission. We need to find a path to better undergraduate education, while making our graduate education sufficiently attractive to bring the best faculty here. We must provide the incentives, time, and support to our faculty to assure that we honor our mission.

Higher education in the 20th century, and certainly in the present century, is the greatest engine for upward social mobility available to any society. Intellectual capital is the coin of the realm, and I think AUB must play a role in seeing that it is more evenly distributed. We must make a positive effort to seek out disadvantaged students from in and outside Lebanon and provide them the financial support they need to come here.

How we move forward must be a collective decision reached through study and debate. It is a process that involves the entire community.


CAMS Holds Conference on Advanced Computing

The Center for Advanced Mathematical Sciences (CAMS) held its first “International Meeting on Grid and Parallel Computing” in January with the St. Joseph, Balamand, and the Lebanese Universities. The event, which was sponsored by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, included workshops for graduate students and faculty new to parallel computing, and a conference that included talks on the latest developments in the field.

CASAR hosts International Conference
More than 125 participants from 12 countries attended an international conference in West Hall on December 19-20. The event, which was the first international conference organized by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR), was entitled “America in the Middle East/The Middle East in America.” Participants touched on a wide range of topics during the lively two-day event: perspectives of the Middle East in the United States, challenges of teaching the Middle East in the United States and vice versa, current US policy toward the Middle East, American religious influence in the Arab world, women in media and film representations of the Arab world in the United States, Arab and American writings, America in North Africa, terrorism, and East-West dialogue through missionaries and colonialism.

CCCL Observes World Cancer Day
The Saint Jude Children’s Cancer Center of Lebanon (CCCL) at the AUB Medical Center commemorated World Cancer Day on February 3 by holding a ceremony (“My Child and Cancer”) and distributing prizes for the best drawings to CCCL patients.

Mona Hraoui, wife of the former Lebanese president, Minister of Health Mohamad Khalifeh, and Jawad Mahjour, representative of the World Health Organization, attended the event. President of the CCCL Board Salim Zeinni, VP for Medical Affairs and Raja N. Khuri Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Dr. Nadim Cortas, CCCL Director Dr. Miguel Abboud, member of the Lebanese Association in the Fight Against Cancer Dr. Michel Daher, mother of a CCCL patient Shohig Vardian, Dr. Jawad Mahjour, and Dr. Mario Aoun all spoke at the event.

AUB Students Honor Syrian Filmmaker Mustapha Al Akkad
The AUB Syrian Cultural Club organized an event to honor internationally renowned Syrian filmmaker Mustapha Al Akkad and his daughter Rima who were killed in the November 9 bomb attack in Amman, Jordan. Syrian actor and former UNICEF ambassador for Childhood in the Middle East and North Africa Duraid Lahham spoke on December 21 at the inauguration of a three-day exhibition in West Hall on the life and work of Mustapha Al Akkad.

First EMBA Class Graduates
AUB graduated the first class from the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business Executive MBA program on February 6. The nineteen students who received their diplomas are the first to graduate from the program, which was established in 2004. A number of AUB trustees, faculty, and friends, including Minister of External Affairs Fawzi Salloukh, attended the ceremony, which featured a keynote address by Trustee Ibrahim Dabdoub, chief executive officer of the National Bank of Kuwait.

CAMS Celebrates 10th Anniversary and Announces Atiyah Chair in Mathematics
To celebrate its 10th anniversary, the Center for Advanced Mathematical Sciences (CAMS) organized a series of lectures and announced the Sir Michael Atiyah Chair in Mathematics. Held on February 20 and moderated by Sir Michael, chair of the CAMS Advisory Committee, the “X Lectures” included presentations by Columbia University Professor George Saliba, University of Amsterdam Professor Robbert Dijkgraaf, and Dr. Semir Zeki, professor of neurobiology at University College, University of London. Sir Michael gave a lecture on February 21 on mathematics and society in the twenty-first century in which he argued that mathematical relations have been instrumental in the evolution of physics, topology, and architecture, and hence modern technology.

Coca-Cola Chair in Marketing Established at AUB
The Coca-Cola Foundation has made a $2-million gift to establish the Coca-Cola Chair in Marketing at AUB’s Suliman S. Olayan School of Business. Following the announcement, about 150 people attended a seminar on corporate social responsibility organized by AUB and Coca-Cola. During the seminar the two parties announced an essay writing competition entitled “Make Every Word Count.” AUB students wishing to compete were asked to write an essay that addresses the following question: “In what way can Coca-Cola, through the use of cause-related marketing and/or community partnerships, utilize the power of its brand to demonstrate its commitment to the Lebanese society?”

Volunteer Outreach Clinic (VOC) Moves to Larger Space
he VOC, which was founded by a group of both medical and non-medical AUB students in October 2001 to provide medical care to people living in underserved areas, has recently moved from the Palestinian Red Crescent Center to the Norwegian People’s Aid Center. Although the clinic will remain in the Palestinian Shatila Camp, the new location, donated by the Norwegian People’s Aid, is larger. The inauguration ceremonies for the new site included informative presentations on VOC’s history, the medical care that VOC provides, and the challenges it faces, including a lack of funds, volunteers, and resources.

"Memories" Screened Twice due to Popular Demand
“Memories of Ras Beirut: Wish You Were Here” by Mahmoud Hojeij is a documentary that includes oral and eyewitness accounts of the demographic and cultural changes that took place in Ras Beirut in the 20th century. The film, which was funded by the European Union and AUB’s Center for Behavioral Research, features appearances by a number of AUB faculty and staff, including Nabeel Ashkar, Saadeddine Dabbous, Leila Shaheen Da Cruz, Samir Khalaf, Samir Makdisi, Kamal Rbeiz, Philip Safar, Kamal Salibi, Leila Shahid, Munir Shamma’a, Victor Shibli, and Ibrahim Takkoush.

Globalization and Implications for Citizenship
The relationship between citizenship, urban communities, and globalization were discussed in a conference entitled “Cities and Globalization: Challenges to Civilization” at AUB December 9-11. The conference was organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the AUB Graduate Program in Urban Planning and Design, and the Institut Français du Proche-Orient.

‘Biodiversity as Food’ Workshop Looks at Wild Edible Plants
The Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences in collaboration with the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, the Environmental Sustainability and Development Unit (ESDU), and the Initiative for Biodiversity Studies in Arid Regions (IBSAR) organized a three-day workshop in February on “Biodiversity as Food.” During the workshop, which was sponsored by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), participants looked at wild edible plants and whether they could offer a solution for the world food crisis.

Piano Master Class by Waleed Howrani
Waleed Howrani, IC graduate and longtime friend of AUB, gave a piano master class for AUB students on March 6 in Assembly Hall. Now living in the United States, Howrani is an internationally known musician and has composed many pieces, primarily for the piano, that have been performed in Europe, the Middle East, and North America. He has also composed a set of variations on AUB’s alma mater. Students participating in the master class examined pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel, and Albeniz.

PepsiCo Honors Scholarship Recipients
On February 8, PepsiCo hosted a dinner for the recipients of the PepsiCo scholarships that it has awarded yearly to AUB students since 1995. The seven awardees, PepsiCo staff, and AUB representatives attended the dinner at AUB’s Faculty Lounge. VP W. Stephen Jeffrey welcomed PepsiCo and expressed thanks for its long years of collaboration with AUB. Over the years, PepsiCo International has donated $300,000 to a scholarship fund that has benefited 60 AUB students.

Saad Abdul Latif, president of PepsiCo International in the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia, spoke next of his memories from his time at AUB in the 1970s. He mentioned in particular the rambunctious Hyde Park inspired speeches outside of West Hall and proudly said that he owes his success at PepsiCo to the outstanding education he acquired at AUB.

The students who received the PepsiCo scholarship awards for the 2005-06 academic year are: Nader al-Attar, junior, business administration; Maya Mansour, senior, business administration; Christina el Khoury, senior, business administration; Nadine el-Kojok, junior, public administration; Nasr Madi, junior, computer and communications engineering; Sandra Hattab, junior, computer and communications engineering; and Joseph Kharrat, recognized as “best athlete”, junior, agriculture student.

Ayadina Foundation Contributes to Financial Aid and Brave Heart Funds
On February 28, Maya Najjar, founder of the Ayadina Foundation, presented a check to AUB’s Office of Development, to be used for financial aid and by the Brave Heart Fund. Najjar is the founding president of Ayadina Foundation, a non-sectarian philanthropic foundation that helps destitute communities. It is also providing assistance for underprivileged populations in the Sin El Fil and Nab’aa areas in Beirut.

Sulayman Salim Alamuddin Memorial Endowed Scholarship
Hana Sulayman Alamuddine, a part-time faculty member at AUB’s Department of Architecture and Design, has founded the Sulayman Salim Alamuddin Memorial Endowed Scholarship at AUB in memory of her father, Sulayman Salim Alamuddin (BBA ’44). Alamuddin was general manager at Near East Resources until 1984 and a prolific writer. Among his most well known publications are Al Sajjad al Sharqi (Oriental Carpets), Islamic Tassawuf (Islamic Mysticism or Sufism), Al Mu‘tazila, Tadhakkar ya Marwan (Remember Marwan), and Al Karamita.

Teaching and Technology
On December 1, the Academic Computing Center (ACC) held the “Third AUB Faculty Seminar on Teaching and Learning with Technology,” during which a number of professors shared their experiences with other faculty members and the administration. Participants included Professor Marcus Marktanner, Department of Economics; Dr. Ali Taher, Aida Habbal, and Dr. Kamal Badr, Department of Internal Medicine; Professor Iris Stoval, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Dr. Nidhal Guessoum, American University of Sharjah.

Reducing Money Laundering in Lebanon
In January and February, the Institute of Financial Economics in cooperation with the Economics Department held a lecture series on “Selected Issues in Banking and Finance.” Mohammad Baasiri, secretary of the Special Investigation Committee and the current president of the MENA Financial Action Task Force at the Banque du Liban, spoke on February 7 on money laundering.

Lale Behzadi Portrays al-Jahiz’s Literary Use of Silence
Lale Behzadi from the Institute of Arabic Studies at Georg August University in Goettingen, Germany, gave a talk at the Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES) on al-Jahiz’s ideas of silence on December 1. Behzadi is currently researching theories of communication and language in ninth and tenth-century Arabic literature, with emphasis on the works of ‘Amr Bahr al-Jahiz (776-868 AD).

Idwar al Kharrat’s Autobiography: an Authentic Way of Personal Writing
At the invitation of the Makdisi Program in Literature, Andreas Pflitsch, a professor of Arabic at Ruhr University in Germany, gave a talk about Idwar Al Kharrat’s autobiography, The City of Saffron, on January 25: “Idwar Al Kharrat and the Involuntary Autobiography.”

Breast Cancer in Lebanon
The Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) held a second seminar on breast cancer on January 4. Participants agreed that despite the increasing number of new breast cancer cases, early detection is also expected to rise because of widespread screening programs, better public awareness of the early signs of cancer, and the increased availability of hormonal therapy. The seminar was attended by AUB faculty members Dr. Faysal El-Kak and Dr. Muhieddine Seoud and by Dr. Salim Adib (St. Joseph University) and Peggy Hanna from the Ministry of Public Health.

Interrelations between Byzantine and Islamic Art
Henri Franses, a specialist in Byzantine art history, was invited by the Faculty of Arts and Science on January 30 to give a talk on “The Human, the Infinite, and the Divine: On the Interrelations between Byzantine and Islamic Art.” The audience was fascinated by Frances’ visual and illustrated comparison of the concept of infinite divinity in both Islamic and Byzantine art.

Funding in the MENA Region
Professor Jane Harrigan, of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, was invited by the Department of Economics, the Institute of Financial Economics, and the Center for Arab Unity Studies to lecture on the determinants of IMF and World Bank lending in the MENA region on January 4.

Propaganda and the Power of the Pope
On February 22, Professor John N. King from Ohio State University lectured at AUB on the propagandistic media in Tudor England from 1485 to 1603. Entitled “Religious Controversy and Art under the Tudors,” the talk dealt with the Tudors’ use of “image-making strategies.”

Reform From Within: Divorce in Egypt
At the invitation of CAMES and the Center for Behavioral Research, Professor Diane Singerman from American University in Washington, DC gave a talk on December 6 about divorce in Egypt. She touched on a number of aspects of this topic, including current efforts by the Egyptian scholarly elite to reform the personal status laws of Egypt from within the system.

Lebanon’s History Predicts Iraq’s Future
Professor Marcia C. Inhorn, director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan, spoke at CAMES on February 21 about the public health consequences of the war in Iraq. She argued that the experience of post-war Lebanon could be used to predict the effect that the war in Iraq would have on human health and the environment.

Lecture on Labor Migration in Morocco
Natasha Iskandar, PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, traveled to AUB on January 16 at the invitation of AUB’s Graduate Program in Urban Planning and Design and the Olayan School of Business. During her talk, entitled “Emigration, Interpretative Engagement, and Infrastructure Reform in Rural Morocco, 1985-2005,” she analyzed what “migrant-sending” countries do to strengthen the relationship between migration and development. She focused in particular on returning Moroccan migrants who developed strategies to increase the energy production of the Maghreb Souss Valley.

World Bank Official Calls for Increased Equity
On January 26, Giovanna Prennushi, an economist with the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Group, led a seminar jointly organized by AUB’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs and the World Bank. Basing her argument on the recently issued World Bank Development Report 2006 that included studies on equity, Prennushi asserted that increasing equity improves efficiency and production, thereby improving incomes and standards of living.

AUB and Johns Hopkins Address Challenges in Internal Medicine
AUB’s Department of Internal Medicine and Johns Hopkins University held their first annual “AUB-Johns Hopkins Review of Internal Medicine” course at the Gefinor-Rotana Hotel in Beirut in early February. The course covered a wide range of topics, including the problems encountered in ambulatory and in-hospital settings, cardiology, astroenterology, neurology and psychiatry, infectious diseases, and endocrinology.

Saudi Enrollment on the Rise at AUB
Increasing numbers of Gulf students—especially from Saudi Arabia—are choosing to come to AUB for their undergraduate studies. This is the result of the University’s recently adopted aggressive recruitment strategy that included visiting Saudi schools and the establishment of the University Preparatory Program (UPP). UPP is a pre-university program that was established in 2002 to help high-achieving students improve their English proficiency and thus take better advantage of their education at AUB. Since 2002, there has been a 200 percent increase in the number of Saudi students, primarily from schools in Saudi Arabia, bringing the total number of Saudi students currently studying at AUB to 112. Even Lebanon’s recent political instability did not deter Saudi nationals from sending their children to Lebanon, as attested by the 51 new Saudi students who enrolled at AUB this year. (An additional 85 students from other Gulf countries also enrolled for the 2005-06 academic year.) The Saudi Ministry of Higher Education recently decided to send a group of 20 highly qualified students, who were selected according to a strict set of criteria, to study medicine at AUB. These students will take the one-year UPP course to improve their English language skills to the required standards, so that they can then join the MD program.

“Saudi students consider that AUB offers a high-quality education,” said Salim Kanaan, director of Admissions and Financial Aid. “But they used to find the admissions process difficult for them.” Students are required to pass the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to qualify for admission to AUB. With more visits and improved communication, the Admissions Office helped prospective students overcome these and other hurdles, working closely with the Saudi cultural attaché in Lebanon, Ayman Moghrabi. “Our interaction with the faculty and staff at AUB has been very smooth,” said Moghrabi. “We are provided with all the facilities we need. The university faculty and staff take care of our students as though they are their own children.” Moghrabi founded the Student Affairs Bureau at the Saudi Embassy in Lebanon in 2002 to monitor Saudi students’ academic progress at all Lebanese universities.

Provost Peter Heath said plans for expanded partnerships are on the agenda. “The University plans to continue—and even expand—its intensive recruiting efforts in this region in future years,” he said, adding: “Attracting an academically strong, yet regionally and economically diversified student body is one of AUB’s core strategic goals. AUB welcomes this recent increase in highly qualified students from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”  

As a result of the increase in the number of Saudi students at AUB, there is now a Saudi Cultural Club. Led by Saudi national Najla Al-Bassam, a second-year graphic design student, the club emerged out of a need “to welcome new Saudi students and make them feel comfortable in their new setting, and to allow Saudis and non-Saudis to discover each others’ cultures,” said Al-Bassam, who is one of the club’s founders. The club will also serve as a forum for cultural exchange. “We wanted to show the AUB community what Saudi Arabia is about,” said Al-Bassam. The club attracted 80 members in its first semester and includes in addition to Saudis a small number of Lebanese, Jordanian, American, Kuwaiti, and Bahraini students.

Students often discover in Lebanon and at AUB greater cultural diversity than they were exposed to back home. This is exactly what attracted Al-Bassam to AUB. “I had the choice of going to an American university in a Gulf country, where the culture is similar to Saudi Arabia,” she said. “But my parents encouraged me to come here. They wanted me to study at AUB since, it’s famous for the high quality education it offers. I’m hoping to go back and teach at one of the universities and bring back some of the experiences I have had in Lebanon, such as practicing democracy in student elections,” she said, adding: “Lebanon is totally different—European with an Arabic culture. I’m really enjoying exploring it.”

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