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Spring 2008 Vol. VI, No. 3

Letters to the Editors

Fall 2007, Vol. VI, No. 1

“Aren't You Dr. Slade?”

Your interview with my former colleague and good friend Landry Slade struck a responsive chord. Although my time at AUB was shorter (1964-76) and my service to the University comes nowhere near to his, I have very similar feelings and experiences.
My wife and I came to AUB from Berkeley, another beautiful campus that was neither as spectacular nor as tranquil as AUB’s. My experience with AUB students exactly matches his. They were poorly prepared in experimental science but extremely talented and motivated, so much so that I sometimes felt like the rooster who believes he causes the sun to rise. It seemed clear that these students were going to succeed and excel regardless of who taught them. Nevertheless, I, too, immensely enjoyed teaching at AUB, largely because the students were so receptive and appreciative. Like Dr. Slade, I don’t keep in touch with former students on a regular basis, as time and distance make that difficult. Nevertheless, I often receive pleasant surprises. A number of years ago, in a restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, a man came up to me and said, “Are you the Dr. Olmsted who taught at AUB?” He was a successful doctor who had taken introductory chemistry from me. When my wife and I moved to Pittsburgh about a year ago, we discovered a substantial community of AUB-trained doctors, some of whom I taught some 40 years ago.

John Olmsted
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
jolmsted@fullerton.edu

“Architecture Matters”

Your last issue on “Architecture Matters” was excellent. I would like to add to the list of those who excelled in architecture the name of Kamil Iliyya Matar (BArch ’82). Kamil was a big inspiration to those who knew him and he is a wonderful example of perseverance and excellence for all of us. In his early twenties and while studying at AUB, he was diagnosed with a life threatening degenerative muscular disease which gradually affected his level of activity. In spite of his health status, he wanted to earn his degree and continue his life as normally as possible. Because he wasn’t able to use the stairs, he was allowed to use an office on the main floor of the Architecture Building where he managed to complete his student projects. At graduation, he was using a cane.


After graduation, he worked in an engineering firm where he was the mastermind of many architectural projects, including the ABC Debayyeh, ABC Achrafieh, and Building 707 Verdun. He eventually lost the ability to walk and started using a wheelchair. Amazingly though, he continued to drive his car on his daily commute. Eventually, he lost his ability to use his hands, but this didn’t keep him from using the mouse and the computer to do his designs! He was also a talented painter. He kept on working until his last days of life. He passed away in 2002, but his work is still alive and a witness to the perseverance of this inspirational person. I am compelled to tell you the story of Kamil by my loving memory of this wonderful person.

Gladys Honein (BScN ’84, MPH ’92)
Toronto, Ontario

“A Modern Marvel on the Green Oval”


Regarding the design (for the Green Oval) submitted by the renowned architect Zaha Hadid—for whom we have great respect, we feel that the design, although very original and functional, is not compatible with the existing buildings. We are sure that Zaha Hadid can produce a design that is unique and still blend in with the existing AUB architecture.

Jihad Shibaru (BA ’73) and
Diana Khatib Shibaru (BA ’75)
Beirut, Lebanon

Knowing the Green Oval and having lived and experienced the space for five years, the design proposal touched me in a negative manner and my first reaction was: how obtrusive! I am personally very much impressed by the architect’s pursuit of new organic dynamic structures. However I do think that, in this context, an underground facility with light captured from the top would have benefited from the possibility of a larger footprint, giving space for future expansion to other faculties as well as being less obtrusive and more in context with its surroundings.

Samar Hamdan (BArch ’88)
Crown Engineering Consultancy Bureau LLC
Abu Dhabi

Summer 2007, Vol. V, No. 4

“Rx for Success”

I really enjoyed reading your article on medical firsts in your summer edition, and then reading some of the reactions to the memories that it evoked. As someone who was born at the old AUH and who grew up on the AUB campus and saw the new AUBMC being built, I felt nostalgic when I read about the accomplishments of the many distinguished individuals who are mentioned in your article, many of whom were colleagues, friends, and students of my dad, Gregoire A. Dragatsi (MD ’30).

Alexander G. Dragatsi (BA ’83; MPH ’85)
Waterville, Maine

Dr. Sami I. Haddad performed the first cystoscopy in August 1923, not in the mid-1930s. He was given the privilege of doing post-graduate work in the United States as one of the first Rockefeller Fellows. He took up urology at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore (1921-22), with the famous urologist H. H. Young. On his way back to Beirut, he stopped in Vienna and purchased several Leitz cystoscopes among other urological equipment. They were more like jewels than anything else. I inherited them from him, kept them in running condition, and used them frequently until they were stolen from the Orient Hospital during the Lebanese civil war. A few days after they disappeared, I received a call from a notorious physician in Nabatiyyeh asking me if I would like to buy a few cystoscopes, which were still in their original wooden boxes; he had bought them for a few pounds, and when he saw my name on the boxes, he decided to try to sell them to me. I was angered by this unprofessional approach, and remembered the following story about the use of the cystoscopes. A few months before, a graduate from the British Institute of Urology had tried to use them to catheterize the ureter of his patient, but failed (they are very delicate instruments); I took over from him and catheterized the ureter. Remembering all this, I answered the rogue physician from Nabatiyyeh that if he knew how to use them he could keep them with my blessing!

Farid S. Haddad (BA ’41, MD ’48)
Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Many years have passed since the wonderful experience I had as dean of women at the American University of Beirut from 1960-69. Those nine years enriched my life.

After my return to the United States I served in a variety of administrative positions at Western Washington University and retired in 1990. Retirement has given me time to travel the world, including several return trips to Lebanon and the Middle East.

In reflecting on my years at AUB, I think often of the delightful women students who came from sixty different nations and who projected much energy and promise for the future. The names keep coming back: Afifa Dirani, Zeinab Abu-Yafi, Huda Osseiran, Ezzah Muhtadi, Rima Halazun, Jehan Helow, and Amal Shamma from Lebanon; Leila Badr (now director of the AUB Museum) and Serpouhy Simani of Syria; Suad Jawad from Iraq; Qaisar Sultana of Pakistan; Magda Mabruk, Iran; Zubeida Marmani, South Africa; Bernadette Shakashiri, Kenya; Hanan Mikhail Ashrawi and Vickie Khoury of Palestine. I could continue to recall other names of students who graced my life.

Staff and faculty also influenced me and assisted me in my work—Mary Mansour Halabi, Mary Abu Daher, the late Michel Shamma, Rose La Sorte Rich (first women’s physical education instructor), Farid Fuleihan, Minnie Katibeh, and the late Levon Melikian. Who can forget the late Trustee Peggy Smith who contributed so much to the Women’s Education Committee? AUB gave me the opportunity to experience other cultures, the hospitality of the Lebanese, and the friendship of so many people of the Middle East.

So this is just a letter to say how much AUB has meant to me over the years.

Shukran!
Mary Robinson
Bellingham, Washington

Thank you for a beautiful journal that keeps our memories alive and keeps us updated on our dear Alma Mater. When queried by friends here about our apparent attachment to AUB, we say: It was there in the halls and alleys of a stalwart institution and a gorgeous campus that the values we had inherited in our homes became ingrained in our minds and our behavior. It was there that we were given the tools that helped us survive in a world that was breaking up all around us. It was there that we met, loved, and lived. It was also there that, with friends, we fantasized about freeing our countries and then magically uniting them.

It is a pity that the same could not be offered to our children and grandchildren.

Elias S. Srouji (MD ’44)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Errata

Winter 2008, Vol. VI, No. 2, The Waterbury Years

AUBMC Nursing Services has applied for Magnet Accreditation; it has not received it.

Classnotes

Riad al Khouri's (BA ’68) e-mail address is ralkhouri@carnegie-mec.org.

Fall 2007 , Vol. VI, No. 1, Class Notes Akram Miknas was honored by the AUB Alumni Association in Beirut, not Kuwait.