board when he was 35, 40 years ago,” said AUB Chairman Emeritus Richard A. Debs to a room of friends and colleagues. “I’ve often marveled at the dedication and devotion that Nick has directed toward AUB... [he] serves as the role model of a trustee that we should all aspire to, recognizing that his example would be difficult to emulate.”
AIA Awards Hostler Student Center
The American Institute of Architects recently selected the Charles W. Hostler Student Center as one of eight recipients worldwide for its 2009 Institute Honor Awards for Architecture for its “non-hierarchical synthesis of architecture and landscape to create a set of richly varied and environmentally diverse spaces for people to gather at all hours.” The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment (AIA-COTE) also included the Hostler Center in its Top Ten Green Projects for 2009. Profiles of all these projects are available at www.aiatopten.org and at www.buildinggreen.com. The Charles W. Hostler Student Center was designed by Vincent James Associates Architects, with associate architect Samir Khairallah and Partners.
Accessing AUB’s Digital Repositories Worldwide
The Academic Computing Center (ACC), newly relocated from the depths of College Hall to its new premises in Van Dyck, continues to spearhead new IT systems to enhance teaching effectiveness and expand research opportunities for AUB faculty. In January the ACC launched AUB’s Digital Repositories, a data base which allows and encourages AUB to maintain and share its scholarly records. The AUB Digital Repository consists of ACC Digital Material with teaching material created on campus; AUB Digital Collections, containing materials from the university libraries; and External Digital Repositories, which connect AUB with universities and people worldwide. By accessing the external digital repositories, a user can download lecture notes from courses offered at universities such as Stanford and MIT. Tarek Kettaneh, senior lecturer in the Olayan School of Business wrote, “From my perspective, the External Digital Repositories is a fabulous value made available to instructors from a single location.” All members of the AUB community, including alumni in Lebanon and abroad can access the digital repositories at http://dr.aub.edu.lb/.
From the Faculties
AUB Inaugurates the Rafic Hariri School of Nursing
The Rafic Hariri School of Nursing was celebrated during a ceremony on February 19 in Issam Fares Hall. AUB Trustee and MP Saad Hariri, who has pledged $10 million to name and endow the School of Nursing, said that he chose to support nursing because “nurses are the silent and unsung life-saviors.” An enthusiastic crowd of faculty, students, and dignitaries including Health Minister Mohammed Jawad Khalifeh, representing PM Fouad Siniora, Culture Minister Tammam Salam, MP Bahiyya Hariri, Deputy Speaker Farid Makari, and AUB Board Chair Thomas Q. Morris participated in the event and the tour of the new facility. (See the feature on nursing in this issue.)
AUB Hosts Workshop on Photo Preservation
In January, the Department of Photography hosted the Middle East Photograph Preservation Institute (MEPPI) for an intensive two-week training course in photograph preservation by a team of international experts. Fifteen participants affiliated with major private and public collections in Lebanon, Egypt, Iran, and Jordan participated in the program, which the Getty Foundation funded with a $115,000 grant. The MEPPI is co-directed by Debra Hess Norris, Art Conservation Department chair and professor of photographs at the University of Delaware and Nora Kennedy, Sherman Fairchild Conservator of Photographs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and adjunct professor in the Conservation Center, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University.
FAS Launches E-examination Room
With funds from a generous $250,000 donation from the President’s Club, FAS has transformed Room 203 in Bliss Hall into an interactive lecture hall for up to 113 students with computers at every desk that are linked to an LCD projector. The new space will also be used as an electronic computer-based examination room where exams are delivered via computer.
Olayan School of Business Earns AACSB International Business Accreditation
In April 2009, the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business achieved accreditation of its business degree programs from AACSB International-The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The Olayan School of Business joins an elite group of institutions—less than 5 percent of business schools worldwide—that have achieved business accreditation from AACSB International. OSB is the first institution in Lebanon to be accredited by the association. “AACSB accreditation is the first step in a global branding campaign that will enable long term alliances with top business schools worldwide, further developing our capacity in pedagogy, research, and student diversity,” said OSB Dean George Najjar, following the announcement.
23 GCC Students Complete Intensive Financial Management Program
This winter, 23 students from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries graduated from a tailored 16-week advanced financial management program at AUB that was supported by the Gulf Investment Corporation. The program, which the Olayan School of Business designed and delivered under the umbrella of AUB’s Office of Regional External Programs, used Harvard Business School case studies to address a wide range of topics related to financial analysis, including fund valuation and corporate finance.
Students Lap it Up
Mechanical engineering student Zahra Salahie won first place in the 50 meter freestyle while political studies major Dana Suleiman took first place in the 50 meter breast stroke at the Lebanese University’s swimming tournament for women in March 2009.
Graduate Wins Young Investigators Award APLAR 2008
Zeinab Slim, a research assistant in the Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, has won the Young Investigators Award APLAR (Asia Pacific League of Associations for Rheumatology) 2008 for her thesis on rheumatic/musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders in southern Lebanon. This award is given to a scientist under the age of 40 who has made outstanding independent contributions to basic or clinical research in the field of rheumatology. Slim accepted the award at a ceremony during a gala dinner at the APLAR meeting in Yokohama, Japan last September. Slim also won first prize for a presentation on a related topic at the 2nd Rheumatology Conference UAE, held in Dubai March 18-20, 2009. Since graduating with a master’s degree in epidemiology in 2008, Slim has been working with Associate Professor Monique Chaaya (Epidemiology and Population Health) and Professor Imad Uthman (Rheumatology, Internal Medicine) on a national epidemiological study of rheumatic/musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders.
Understanding Youth Activism
The Center for Civic Engagement and Community Service (CCECS) partnered with the ‘Amel Association to bring together Finnish, Greek, Palestinian, and Lebanese students at AUB to discuss community service and youth activism in their respective communities. During the event facilitated by Hovig Etyemezian, a specialist in peace and conflict resolution with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), students cited a lack of sustainable funding, political instability, and youth passivity as major setbacks to volunteer work in their respective communities. The AUB team consisted of the Neighborhood Initiative, the Nature Conservation Center for Sustainable Futures (IBSAR), engineering student volunteers in the AUB Summer Camp 2008, and the Zawtar village development initiative by the Faculty of Health Sciences, along with volunteers with the CCECS.
Al Hitaan in Hakat
“Poetry on the Walls,” a one-day outdoor activity in February, co-organized by the Neighborhood Initiative and the CCECS, invited students to brighten city walls with verses of Arabic poetry and lyrics of songs of their choice.
Call for Transparency
The Human Rights and Peace Club organized an exhibition in front of West Hall aiming at raising awareness of the need to monitor the Lebanese parliamentary elections in June 2009.
The Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research Awards recently announced two new grants to support collaborative research at the Harvard Medical School (HMS) and Middle East-based medical centers. Dr. Ghassan Dbaibo (BS ’82, MD ’86), a professor at AUBMC’s Department of Pediatrics and a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases, is a member of the group working on primary immunodeficiency diseases (PID), a heterogeneous group of genetically determined disorders that affect the development and/or function of the immune system. Dbaibo explains that studies of PID have been instrumental in deciphering the cellular and molecular processes that govern immune function and its response to infection. One example of a PID is severe combined immunodeficiency; the Hollywood movie Bubble Boy raised awareness of the disease through the story of an afflicted child who was forced to live in a bubble dome.
Although the incidence of PIDs is estimated to be 1:2,000 in the western world, because most forms of PIDs are inherited as autosomal recessive traits, they are expected to be more common in areas with high rates of consanguinity such as the Middle East. Dbaibo is a member of a network that includes immunologists and physician-scientists in the Middle East that has so far identified more than 70 consanguineous families with PIDs, in which known genetic defects have been ruled out or which represent a previously unreported phenotype. “The team has already mapped a locus for a novel heretofore undescribed PID syndrome in a large Kuwaiti family that demonstrates unequivocally the power of the proposed collaborative network in identifying novel genes that cause PID,” says Dbaibo.
Dbaibo expects that the collaborative research center between the HMS and five centers in the Middle East including the AUB Medical Center will foster the diagnostic and research capabilities at each of the Middle East centers and lead to a marked improvement in awareness, diagnosis, treatment, and investigation of PIDs in the region.
Dr. Fadi Bitar (BS ’82, MD ’86) and Dr. Georges Nemer (BS ’92) are members of a network of researchers including partners in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the Harvard Medical School in the United States that was chosen to receive a Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research Award for its collaborative work to decipher the genetics of congenital diseases in the Middle East.
When Dr. Nemer, an associate professor of biochemistry, returned to AUB in 2002, he got in touch with Dr. Bitar, who had established the Children’s Cardiac Registry Center (CCRC) in 1999—the first registry of patients with congenital heart disease (CHD) in Lebanon. For the last six years, they and their colleagues have collected more than 600 DNA samples from patients at the CCRC, and, in some cases, from the parents of these patients, to discover the genetic and molecular causes for human malformations. “In the past,” remembers Nemer, “we lacked the equipment and personnel to do this type of research in Lebanon.” Since December 2003, however, AUBMC scientists have used a DNA sequencer at the Faculty of Medicine to analyze the genetic samples that they have collected from some of the more than 1,500 patients who have received treatment at the Children’s Heart Center.
The goal of the Congenital Heart Disease Genetic Program (CHDGP) that Bitar codirects, explains Nemer, “is to link mutations in genes encoding transcription factors to CHD,” a disease that occurs in one percent of live births and is the major risk factor for early morbidity in newborn infants. Nemer says that the reason they are focusing on the genes encoding transcription factors is because of their well-documented importance in regulating gene expression “and on the relatively easy evaluations that can be done to assess the function of the proteins they encode in vitro.” By focusing on a list of ten genes that are not yet proven to be linked to CHD, Nemer and Bitar hope to enhance our understanding of the role of these particular genes in causing CHD.
Lina Al-Kanj, one of nine students enrolled in AUB’s doctoral program in electrical and computer engineering, is designing, optimizing, implementing, and testing video streaming strategies for wireless networks with mobile-to-mobile cooperation.
Imagine that while sitting in a café you were able to use your PDA to access the internet through a GSM cellular network to place a streaming request for a live soccer game. At the same time, your mobile device searches for other connected mobile devices in the area that are willing to facilitate your request. The video server, notified by the PDA of the presence of “friendly” devices in your vicinity, will distribute the video frames among all the cooperating devices helping you stream the soccer game. Each will send you the video frames it has received over a Bluetooth connection that will allow you to play the complete video on your device. Imagine, if you can, that this all takes place in real time to deliver the soccer game to your PDA with better quality and lower energy consumption.
This is the world that AUB PhD student Lina Al-Kanj is exploring as she researches efficient multimedia distribution over wireless networks with low energy consumption at mobile devices such as smartphones, PDAs, and laptops. This is a relatively new field of research triggered by the exponential growth in the number of mobile devices that can communicate over multiple wireless interfaces such as Bluetooth, WLAN, and cellular. The challenge for researchers is to maximize the benefits of a new system design that facilitates direct cooperation among multiple mobile devices taking advantage of their communications capabilities. Cooperation among mobile devices is expected to play a pivotal role as we migrate towards 4G wireless systems, comprehensive wireless systems that can provide high quality multimedia services anywhere, anytime, and from any device.
Mobile-to-mobile cooperation is what happens when two mobile devices in a wireless network are allowed to exchange messages directly with each other, as they were doing in the example above involving the live soccer game. The exchanged messages can be information to optimize the allocation of resources or data such as parts of a video clip or audio file. Existing state-of-the-art wide-area wireless systems require mobile devices to communicate only via fixed access points or base stations.
Al-Khanj’s adviser, Professor Zaher Dawy, explains that there are many potential benefits from this research, including decreasing the energy consumption of mobile devices and increasing the capacity of wireless networks. These benefits are of particular interest to end users because they mean longer battery life times and higher quality multimedia applications such as real time mobile video conferencing and mobile network gaming. With high quality mobile video streaming and video conferencing capabilities, businessmen can travel less, people can watch TV anywhere anytime, and friends can share the same moment while in different geographical locations.
In addition to the direct benefit to end users, this research also has an important indirect environmental impact through the reduction of electromagnetic radiation and CO2 emissions. In this way, Al-Kanj explains, her research is contributing to the emerging field of “green communications.”
Al-Kanj, who has a BE from the Lebanese University and an ME from AUB, says that one of the attractions of this particular field for her is “that it is emerging and developing continuously.” In addition to her research interests, Al-Kanj also enjoys teaching and has been involved in several teaching-related activities in the department.
FAAH 215 Ceramics 1
On the ground floor of Nicely Hall, Senior Lecturer ceramicist Amal Muraywed moves with difficulty in the cramped studio weaving among 15 working students, offering advice to those who are winding, shaping, glazing, and painting their clay. Even the space under the tables shelters materials, equipment, and potters’ tools.
In the 1950s John Carswell introduced some ceramics in his sculpture courses. Robert Gronendyke taught sculpture, print making, and ceramics from 1964 to 1967. Amal Muraywed studied ceramics with the late Nuha al-Radi, who taught ceramics from 1972 to 1976 in the very studio where Muraywed has been teaching ceramics since 2000. In her first year at AUB, she and other members of the Project Steering Committee for an AUB Arts Center mounted an exhibition featuring 20 professional ceramicists and students’ ceramics projects in the Lee Observatory.
Before the reestablishment of the Department of Fine Arts and Art History in 2005, art courses, including ceramics, were offered under the auspices of the Civilization Sequence Program. In addition to regularly offering three ceramics courses, the Studio Arts Program also offers both a major (BA) and a minor. Yet most students, including the 50 students enrolled in ceramics courses this semester take studio arts courses as electives. Muraywed wholeheartedly welcomes these students and says she feels a responsibility not to create professional ceramicists but to “revive an interest in ceramics” by building up an audience. “I take them to exhibitions. . . to expose them to all faces of art so they can build an idea of what art is in this part of the world.”
A few students, like Muraywed herself, may turn to ceramics at some point in their careers. She feels that people need art from their earliest school years, and especially ceramics, which is a relaxing means of expression “so close to human beings and human fingers.”
The Healthy Kitchen; Recipes from Rural Lebanon
(AUB Press, 2008) compiled by Malek Batal
This wonderful collection is the result of a two-year research project—“Wild Edible Plants: Promoting Dietary Diversity in Poor Communities of Lebanon”—by University of Ottawa Professor and former AUB Assistant Professor Malek Batal and AUB’s Nature Conservation Center for Sustainable Futures (IBSAR). “We believe that by reminding us of our traditional foods, this book will help some people choose better and healthier meals for their families,” says IBSAR Director and AUB Professor Salma Talhouk.
The publication of this book also ensures that future generations will have access to the ancestral knowledge that is captured in these recipes contributed by women who were known in their respective communities to be knowledgeable about traditional Lebanese cuisine.
According to Batal, although people living in Lebanon continue to have “access to many edible wild plants, the harvesting and use of these wild plants is on the decline due to eroding knowledge and environmental degradation, which is threatening the survival of this fragile resource.”
Although the Lebanese diet now includes more pasta and rice dishes and refined foods than it once did, many of the dishes included in this book are still popular, especially in rural Lebanon. One good example is tabbouleh with lentils (ÊÈæáÉ ÈÇáÚÏÓ), a simple and nutritious salad rich in vitamin C that also contains a substantial amount of iron, supplied by the parsley and lentils.
In addition to the recipes themselves, this collection also includes detailed descriptions of the edible plants that are used as ingredients in many of the dishes including information about their therapeutic uses and active compounds.
CASAR Conference Proceedings -
Liberty and Justice: America and the Middle East
The Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at AUB has published the proceedings of its second international conference which is available at cost at CASAR’s website at http://wwwlb.aub.edu.lb/~webcasar/ .
More than 60 American studies scholars from 15 countries traveled to campus in January 2008 to participate in the gathering that examined current and past encounters between the United States and the Middle East, focusing on the many ways that notions of liberty and justice have informed-
or might inform—these encounters. The conference’s opening plenary session, “America and the Middle East: Where Are We Now?” featured remarks from the members of the center’s advisory board: Djelal Kadir (Pennsylvania State University), Stanley Katz (Princeton University), Rami Khouri (AUB’s Issam Fares Institute), Scott Lucas (University of Birmingham), and Melani McAlister (George Washington University). Another board member, Amy Kaplan (University of Pennsylvania), presented the provocative closing address, “In the Name of Homeland Security.”
In addition to the presentation and often animated discussion of dozens of scholarly papers, the conference featured a hip-hop performance, “Brooklyn Beats to Beirut Streets: Hip Hop and the Language of Liberation.” CASAR Director Patrick McGreevy reports that he and his colleagues are already thinking ahead to the center’s third conference, “Connections and Ruptures: America and the Middle East,” scheduled to take place in January 2010.
First Annual Beirut International Tango Festival at AUB
World-renowned musicians and Argentinean tango dancers performed shows and led workshops at the First Annual Beirut International Tango Festival at AUB in late April. The Continuing Education Center (CEC) sponsored the festival, which is the first of its kind in Lebanon. “CEC is re-institutionalizing its arts programming,” said Director of CEC and REP Assistant Vice President George Farag. “The festival aims at promoting appreciation for this type of art on campus giving students and the public the opportunity to participate, and hence fulfilling CEC’s mission of reaching out to the community.”
Line of Sight
by 15 students from the Advanced Photography class for a seven-day exhibit, titled 'Line of Sight', in West Hall's Common Room. The photos featured a variety of portraits, table-top still shots, story sequences, and interpretations of two themes, "Knocking on Heaven's Door," and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
Life With Six Presidents
He had no idea when he applied for a job as the housekeeper of Marquand House in 1974 that he would become the primary caretaker of the AUB president's on-campus residence for 35 years. Hassan [Taher] Drar, known far and wide—and with enormous affection—simply as Hassan, was initially uninterested in working for the University's president but agreed to meet with the Kirkwood family at the urging of a good friend.
A native of Sudan, Hassan was 37 years old when he moved to Lebanon in 1971 in search of work. Although he was not terribly interested in being a housekeeper, a good friend urged him to meet with Mrs. Kirkwood and to accept the position of caretaker of Marquand House when it was offered to him. Hassan reported for work at the president’s house with the intention of hanging around "for a month or two." Months turned into years and years into decades, and along the way, Hassan witnessed wars and kidnappings and worked for six presidents.
"When I started working, I found everyone to be very pleasant, and I knew that unless I quit my job, they would never let me go," recalled Hassan. And that’s exactly what happened. It was Hassan who decided earlier this year that it was time to go back to his home country. "I have a house in Khartoum. I will go back to see my grandchildren and relive all the memories I made here. It's time to go back," he said. "Everything has an ending."
As caretaker of Marquand House, Hassan was responsible for running the household, preparing meals, cleaning, and gardening. His day started at around 4:30 am with morning prayers. "By 5 am, I was most definitely in the house, getting busy with breakfast preparations," he said. His day usually ended by 2:30 pm, unless there were plans for dinner. "By 9 pm we were done for the day," he says.
Living in such close quarters with them, Hassan remembers each AUB president very well. President Kirkwood would come straight from work to have lunch and would always have a very light dinner. He never drank alcohol, only warm water with a slice of lemon. He played the piano beautifully, according to Hassan. His wife played the drums. The Kirkwoods never threw parties, and were "good people." "They adopted their office boy who was an orphan," said Hassan. Mrs. Kirkwood was also a "bit stingy, always running an inventory of the items in the larder." But she was also a fatalist, never once seeking refuge in the shelter when Beirut was under heavy bombing. "Of all the presidents, Kirkwood used to chat with me the most and would never sit down to dinner without a conversation with us," said Hassan.
"[President Hoelscher] and his wife were very good and sweet people," says Hassan. "Mrs. Hoelsher was so sensitive that if you would tell her that you have a headache, she would sit down next to you and cry." She also loved cats.
Hassan recalls the day then Acting President David Dodge was kidnapped from campus. About President Plimpton, Hassan said, "He refused to leave even though the security situation was bad. He just asked me to leave the back door open, in case he needed to escape."
Although their stay was cut short by the president's assassination, Hassan remembers the Kerrs well. "They were very nice people," says Hassan. "To this day, whenever one of [the family] gives birth, they send me pictures of the babies."
Of all the presidents, John Waterbury was the earliest riser, and although he was the "most demanding/strictest," he also had the greatest sense of humor, according to Hassan. He and Kerr had the best Arabic language skills. Waterbury also was the most physically and socially active, going on a morning run every day and hosting the most parties while in residence.
ACC Digital Repository: http://dr.aub.edu.lb/
"Beirut's American University Preaches Tolerance, Democracy" (search site for American University of Beirut)
New videos on AUB’s YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/AUBatLebanon):
“Debating the Artificial Cedars Island” (AUB IFI)
“How ‘American’ is Globalization?” (AUB CASAR)
“Part 2: Early America” (AUB Choir)
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