one of the bakeries across the street and they would give
me bread for the hospitals. Many memories like this will keep your faith
in mankind and humanity.
Of course, we were blown out of College Hall and this was another major
catastrophe. I managed to relocate all of the departments and within ten
days they were all operational. That was the most traumatic experience
that Ive witnessed. They were tough years. The campus was hit by
around 89 shells. Every time we were hit by a shell, we tried to repair
it. My house was also hit when I used to live on campus across the street
from engineering. We used to cross the street at night and sleep in the
basement. One night we were hit by two shells. My daughters car
was simply blown to the trees. That morning I decided, Thats
it. My wife and I took our two daughters and drove across two borders
into Jordan from where they left for the United States and lived for a
month with friends that we knew when I was studying in Seattle. My wife
and I drove back from Jordan to AUB and, eventually, my daughters continued
their studies at the University of Washington.
When did you leave AUB? Have you been back? What are you doing now?
It was a mutual agreement with the president that I would retire at the
end of 2005-06. I was supposed to leave in August and take my vacation
in September, but the president said, Youre experienced with
the war, so why dont you stay? So I stayed until things calmed
down and left in early December.
I was acting president several times, whenever the president or provost
was not here. In the summer of 2006, I formed the Crisis Response Team.
Everyone stood up to this challenge and they really helped me in keeping
this place running. The president wanted me to write a manual, but I told
him that every single crisis is different than all the others because
each has its own characteristics and priorities.
Now I am back to my fieldbiomedical engineeringand I am doing
some consultation work in Lebanon and in the Middle East. I am trying
to find out if I can be of use and I think people may want to take advantage
of my experience. I am also taking it easy now and enjoying my granddaughter.
I come back to AUB occasionally. I live nearby, so I can walk and stroll
through campus. I also come to some activities that take place in Assembly
Hall and some department gatherings. I keep in touch.
What impact has AUB had on your life?
Its a difficult question. I think AUB shaped the way I first studied,
what I studied, the career I chose, and the course of my professional
life. My daughter asked me once, When you go into a library or Barnes
and Noble, which section do you go to? I said engineering, so she
said, This is where your heart is. I think that medical engineering
is a very challenging and interesting field and I thank AUB for directing
me to that.
Do you have something you would like to say to your former students?
It has been a long, long time, but I can tell them that I remember every
single class that I gave. It was enjoyable and I am proud of where they
are right now.
What stands out as your most important accomplishment at AUB?
I cherished my years of teaching and research and I liked what I introduced
in the form of automation to AUB: the state-of-the-art hospital and medical
equipment, automation of the library, and introduction of the Student
Information System that allowed on-line registration. All of these are
things that I am proud of. I modernized the power plant and this is what
kept the University runningthe mere fact that we had power. I also
established the first fiber optic network at AUB and wired the buildings
so that all professors, students, and administrators had access to the
internet and were reachable by e-mail. This was a challenge made
by Trustee Khoury and we responded, thanks to the efforts of Nabil Bukhalid
and his Computing and Networking Services team.
As VP, I worked with several departments and each had its own specialty.
It was interesting working with human resources; we developed job evaluations,
job classifications, job descriptions, ratings systems, and salary ranges.
Business Services was another challenge: supplies, procurement, housing,
all of that. I can go on. I had around seven departments reporting to
me and, when I left, I was replaced by six people.
In what ways has technology made life at AUB better or worse?
I think if you use technology intelligently it will help you. The work
of the Academic Computing Center that is being done now is a very good
tool and helpful for teaching and research. Of course, we moved from experiments
into videos and demonstrations, so students do not have the hands-on experience.
I taught them active transport across a frogs skin where you would
put the frog across a chamber and put radioactive sodium on one side.
If you see this on a screen, you will see it much more efficiently, but
it never replaces an actual experiment. Maybe I am from the old school,
but I think you should at least maintain some laboratories. In a university
environment, definitely automation is the right thing to do. But I think
automation should be a tool to help you and not the only thing.