MG: In 1976 you abandoned teaching and went into administration.
Yes, I followed Peter’s principle. “You keep being elevated until you
reach your level of incompetence.” Yes. I was assistant, then associate,
and then full professor—and chair of the Food Technology and Nutrition
But then I was asked to be director of a program I thought the University
needed at a time (1976) when student attendance from the region was dwindling
because of the accelerating civil disturbances in the country. So we set
up AUBSCO, the AUB Services Corporation. The board was formed from the
Board of Trustees and consisted of David Dodge, Fuad Bardawil, Nadim Haddad,
myself, and Najeeb Halaby, who taught me how to be an entrepreneur rather
than a professor. Nadim Haddad and I were vice presidents—he for medical
affairs and I for all the rest. The corporation was set up outside the
University, in Delaware.
This corporation lasted for two or three years before it was brought under
the umbrella of the University as RADAC (Research and Development Administrative
Center). At the time President Hoelscher felt that AUBSCO needed to operate
under the auspices of the University because many AUB professors were
going to work in the Gulf without AUB having much say in the matter. And
so the new group was formed, and I was made executive director of RADAC.
MG: And how did the professors work in the Gulf? What did they do?
In RADAC we had 65 professionals, mostly from AUB. We worked in Saudi
Arabia for five years, 1979-84, and set up a regional research center
for agriculture and water.
We also worked in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In Bahrain,
we reorganized retraining of secondary teachers.We also established the
College of Health Sciences and, working with Health Minister Ali Fakhro,
we computerized his ministry and helped commission the biggest government
hospital in Bahrain, Salmaniyeh Hospital.
In Qatar we developed health centers through AUB’s Faculties of Medicine
and Health Sciences, and in the UAE we established schools of nursing
and a five-year health, manpower, and development plan for the Ministry
MG: And the work in the Gulf continued after the war in Lebanon ended?
Oh, yes. In 1996, the ruler of Sharjah asked for help in establishing
universities in the country. We set up the American University of Sharjah,
and I was interim chancellor. When the ruler wanted me to stay, AUB said
I could not continue there without an official leave of absence. But when
the ruler said he would donate one million dollars to AUB, it was decided
I would remain there on a half-time basis until we finished Sharjah’s
University City, which now contains the American University of Sharjah,
the University of Sharjah, and the higher Colleges of Technology for both
men and women. The American University of Sharjah, thanks to AUB, is now
fully accredited both locally and internationally, just like AUB.
MG: When did you retire from AUB?
Well, officially in 1997. But I’ve remained at the University working
full-time, for a nominal salary of $1.00 a year as special adviser to
MG: What has been the impact of AUB on your life?
I cannot in all fairness think of my life without AUB. And this is a fact
and a reality; otherwise you would not find me still here at AUB sitting
at my desk from 8 am until 3 or 4 pm—attending all functions. AUB is a
part of me. I think if AUB had not come into existence, we would have
had to create an AUB. We would have had to create a democratic, western
educational institution like AUB. And I am very proud that I have been
a part of this institution.
MG: Do you have any words you would like to pass on to your students?
I would say, though it might seem like a cliché, that in the ever changing
world of today, you must, please, never think you know it all. Learning
is a continuous process, especially in this day and age. A teacher has
to love his/her profession. I feel sorry for anyone who is in the teaching
profession who doesn’t love it. If I had my life to live over again, I
wouldn’t live it in any other way.
Contact Abdul Hamid Hallab at firstname.lastname@example.org