Summer 2004 Vol. II, Nos 3 and 4
 
 From the Editors
 To the Editors
 AUB News
 Campaign Update
 Behold Beirut Architecture’s
 New Frontier
 The Post-AUB Architectural Life
 An Exact Type
 Architecture and Graphic Design
 Students “JAM”
 Shaping the Landscape of Lebanon
 Blueprint in Action
 Commencement 2004
 Honorary Degrees 2004
 Young Lebanese Musicians Learn
 Lessons from the Master
 More than a Stamp of Approval: AUB
 Receives Accreditation
 Alumni Profile
 Alumni Activities
 AUB Reflections
 Class Notes
 In Memoriam
 Credits
 Previous Issues


Commencement 2004

Long before the arrival of gown-draped students, of beaming parents and friends, of pleased and somewhat relieved faculty, it was already visibly shaping up into a special ceremony.

Days before, the campus Green Oval, the Green Field, and the Agriculture Square were placed off limits, as stages were erected, sound systems installed, and chairs were polished and lined up in long, straight rows. Both the Issam Fares and Assembly Halls were also dusted, buffed, and made ready for the event.

Through the early morning of graduation day, June 26, the preparations continued. Gone was the usual disorder of parked cars along the palm-lined Corniche. Bliss Street, too, was cleared of its usual single and double—and often triple—lines of parked cars.

Security was heightened, direction signs were posted across campus, and ushers, guards, and other indispensable help arrived, ready to face the challenges that are part and parcel of a ceremony marking the graduation of over 1,200 students. In attendance, after all, would be thousands of family members, friends, faculty, dignitaries, and honored guests, including Lebanese Ministers Karam Karam and Fouad Siniora, outgoing US Ambassador Vincent Battle, Board of Trustees Chairman Richard Debs, and a number of trustees and current and former members of Lebanon’s Parliament.

And then, under a bright blue sky and a descending sun, and just ten minutes behind schedule, it began. With the stirring sounds of the AUB choir fading to silence, AUB President John Waterbury took to the podium and, in confident Arabic, welcomed the graduating class of 2004, the proud parents and family friends, his fellow university officials and faculty, friends, and distinguished guests to AUB’s 135th Commencement.

Mindful of the strained political situation all around, Waterbury sidestepped the usual commencement day platitudes and spoke instead of the “backdrop of violence, destruction, torture, and lies” against which the ceremony was being held, warning the students that they were entering “a regional and global mine field.”

“We hope AUB has given you the skills, but above all the values, that will help you successfully navigate what lies ahead,” said the president. “We hope that you will be able to do what past generations have failed to do: change the sorry game in which we have all been losing players.” Waterbury advised the graduating students that if they had doubts or felt at all “hopeless” or “helpless” about the task they have unwillingly inherited, they should stop and look for inspiration to this year’s commencement speaker, a man who “has embraced humanity and life” and has given back to the world “with exuberance, zest, humor, and wisdom.”

That man, Vartan Gregorian, who had come from modest beginnings in Tabriz, Iran, arrived in Beirut penniless at the age of 15. After attending the Armenian College, he resolutely went on to perform with continued academic excellence and eventually completed his PhD in history at Stanford University. Since then, his distinguished professional career has taken him to the top echelons of some of the most prestigious universities in the United States and, since 1997, he has been president of the Carnegie Corporation, one of the major philanthropic foundations in the United States, where he now continues to demonstrate his seemingly natural “exuberance” and “wisdom.”

Gregorian, in advising the graduates of the need to be “active players in the drama of life,” quoted these words by American jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes: “A life is an action and passion. It is required of a man [and a woman] that [they] share the passion and action of [their] time at peril of being judged as not to have lived.”

Action, attention, and care on their part, he told the students, would serve well to resolve any number of problems plaguing the world today, including AIDS and other deadly diseases, poverty, and underdevelopment. The world needs their talents and skills, as does their country and region, he stressed. “Lebanon was not only a land of opportunity; it was a land that valued diversity, practiced tolerance, and protected the right of freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of thought,” he said. “It was and is a beacon of light in the Middle East.”

Gregorian paid tribute as well to AUB, as a “great institution” that has “served Lebanon and the Middle East, ” has constantly “upheld international standards of excellence and academic freedom,” and has long been a “source of leadership and independent thinking.” He went on, however, to say, “My only plea today to all the alumni and friends of AUB is, do not take it for granted… It is not a historical icon; it is a living, vibrant institution that needs everyone’s support.”

Echoing those words of praise and support for his alma mater, graduating student Hassan Mohanna, vice president of the University Student Faculty Committee, spoke of his own enriching experience at AUB, where he was given ideal opportunity to interact and exchange ideas with students and faculty from across the region and the world.

Mohanna reminded his fellow graduates of the responsibilities involved in upholding the University’s name and reputation. “Our pledge is to carry that load, honor our alma mater’s trust, and live up to the standards set by our 43,000 fellow alumni over the past 138 years,” he said. He recognized, however, that the world he and his fellow graduates are inheriting is forever changing and that “basic principles and human values are being redefined and manipulated… Many countries in our region are undergoing intense political restructuring, and many things we once took for granted are no longer valid.” In conclusion, he said that although graduates may have different experiences and expectations, one promise unites them: “We know we will be tested and, God willing, we shall succeed.”

After the speeches and before each faculty went off to distribute its diplomas in the half dozen separate ceremonies held across campus, President Waterbury formally recognized the new graduates and named the recipients of each faculty’s esteemed Penrose Award.

The president seized the occasion at that moment to announce that just the day before AUB had received word of its accreditation (see story on page 45). The president then conferred the degrees to the graduating Class of 2004, citing the rights and responsibilities that go with them. “You are now officially all graduates,” he declared, as cheers, whistles, and applause filled the air and swept beyond the Green Field and across the campus.


 

Looking Back on Their AUB Years

With the memory of all her days at AUB still vivid in her mind, Penrose Award winner Loubna Al-Amine of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences says it was campus life at AUB that especially enriched her education: “People are active and there are always events and activities going on at AUB…There’s a sense of engagement, like you are part of something. For an undergraduate, it was a great and well-rounded experience.”

As Amine makes her way to the University of Indiana at Bloomington to pursue a PhD in comparative politics, she is certain she will return to AUB and to Lebanon. “AUB makes you feel you want to come back,” she says. “I feel more connected. I want to be part of the country; I want to work to improve things.” Amine, who majored in political science with a minor in philosophy, was a staff writer, associate editor and then editor-in-chief of Outlook, the student newspaper, transplanting her love of writing subjectively into more objective articles and columns. “It was a very different type of writing, but I decided to try it,” says Amine. “It was such an amazing entry into campus life.”

Fellow Penrose Award winner Hady Tabbal, who majored in marketing and had just received his BBA degree, says he will probably miss his student friends and the campus most when he leaves AUB. “It was campus life that made it such an outstanding experience; it was all so lively and energetic,” he says, but then he goes on to note that he found the academic part of the experience somewhat lacking. “That’s my own humble opinion,” he comments, “but intellectually and culturally, it was disappointing…It wasn’t what it could be. When you have this university with such a heritage, and with such a great campus—one that I don’t think I’ll find anywhere else—it’s sad to find so little academic interaction, both among students and faculty.”

Having been passionate about acting from a young age, Tabbal is off to pursue a master’s at the prestigious Actor’s Studio Drama School in New York. “I always wanted to go into acting, but I wanted to have something secure first, so I got a business degree,” says Tabbal, who has taken a number of acting workshops. Putting aside his reservations about “academic interaction,” Tabbal says he walks away from AUB happy. During his three years there, he nurtured his acting ambitions, performing in each of the University’s major annual productions: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hotel Paradiso, and Gilgamesh. He was also cofounder and base singer of Mouth Music, an independent a cappella group that performed on and off campus last year.

Economics graduate Carol Ayat was so happy at AUB, she’s staying on to pursue a master’s in financial economics. Ayat, who graduated with high distinction, was all set to travel to Paris to work with an investment bank there, when she learned she had been accepted in the program and awarded a graduate assistantship. “I loved the undergraduate program; I had great interactions with the department, the faculty, and my classmates,” she says. “We were a small class of around 60, so I developed very close relationships with many students. I’m thrilled that I’m coming back.”

As keynote speaker Gregorian remarked in his address, that is indeed the kind of outlook and devotion AUB needs and deserves. “For AUB to maintain its role, its status, its impact, it needs the support of everyone,” he said. “It has earned it the old-fashioned way, through hard work, effective leadership, and demonstrated competence and impact.”

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

461 graduates

60 with distinction; 22 with high distinction

Penrose Award: Loubna Al-Amine

Faculty of Engineering and Architecture

267 graduates

59 with distinction; 18 with high distinction

Penrose Award: Tammam Yamout (Graphic Design)

Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences

86 graduates

9 with distinction; 6 with high distinction

Penrose Award: Hiba Abboud

Suliman S. Olayan School of Business

256 graduates

34 with distinction; 6 with high distinction

Penrose Award: Hadi Tabbal

Faculty of Health Sciences

51 graduates

7 with distinction

Penrose Award: Karma Ekmekji

Faculty of Medicine

78 graduates

9 with distinction

Penrose Award: Nada Al-Husseini

School of Nursing

34 graduates

4 with distinction

Penrose Award: Angela Massouh