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Spring 2007 Vol. V, No. 3

From the President

Dear Friends,

At the last meeting of the Board of Trustees in New York I formally submitted my resignation as president of AUB, to become effective at the close of the academic year 2008. Like assuming the presidency itself, this was not an easy decision, and after nine extraordinary years in this institution, it was a painful one. However, after I had completed five years as president I knew that I could do no more than another five. It is a demanding job, and coming on the heels of thirty years of uninterrupted professional life, it took its toll on me and my family.

In my letter to Chairman Morris and the Board of Trustees, I wrote the following:

“These last nine years have been the most challenging and in most respects the most rewarding of my life. I knew before coming here that AUB is a remarkable institution, but I did not realize just how remarkable (although I hope not unique). In AUB’s alma mater, the University is referred to as the “Oriental Queen,” and she does have majesty and venerability. I could not have imagined, and I am sure Daniel Bliss could not have imagined either, just how successfully American higher education would take root in the soil of Lebanon and in the Middle East. It is no longer possible to separate out what is American and what is Lebanese and Middle Eastern in what we do.

It is, therefore, hard to lay down my charge and responsibilities because they have been personally defining. But lay them down I must. I no longer have the energy and the freshness that the position deserves. I had always seen my role as setting the table for the next president. That is, I wanted to help AUB correct the damage wrought by the civil war and move on to a new phase of academic growth based on an excellent faculty, excellent students, and sustainable finances. The table may not be set exactly the way I would like, but I believe it is set. The next president, I hope, will be able to focus his or her energies resolutely on the future without too many concerns about problems from the past.”

Sarah and I have many friends in Lebanon and in the region. We enjoy living here. My academic appointment continues for some time, and while no firm decisions have been made, we both hope to spend considerable time in Lebanon and to remain connected to the University. I look forward to throwing away my neckties and joining the faculty in unfettered criticism of the administration.

John Waterbury
President, AUB