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Bridging East and West in
New York City

AANA organized a spectacular gala with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah that brought together AUB Trustees, administrators, alumni, and friends to benefit Financial Aid. MainGate takes you there.

“You…and the great University that brings you here together, are really a microcosm of the kind of world that I think all of us want to live in,” commented Her Majesty Queen Rania on AUB and its alumni. “A world where people value the strengths of different nations, faiths, and cultures.”

That world was certainly present at the renowned St. Regis Hotel in New York City on November 14, 2002 when AUB trustees, senior university administrators and deans, North American alumni leaders, and friends came together at a gala and symposium organized by the AUB Alumni Association of North America (AANA).

The program was unique in every way—from its special guests, elegant surroundings, timely discussion, and sumptuous menu. AANA Fundraising Chair and New York Chapter President Wa’el Chehab, who organized the gala, remarked, “The success of the gala shows that AANA is dedicated to fundraising for AUB, particularly in support of the Campaign for Excellence. This was a milestone event raising $180,000 with $30,000 going to the School of Business and the balance to scholarships.”
The evening started with a symposium entitled Bridging the Gap Between East and West and the Role of Education, consisting of a panel discussion by leading experts on the region. Ambassador Edward S. Walker, Jr., president of the Middle East Institute, served as moderator for panelists Henry Seigman, senior fellow and director, US/Middle East Project at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Raghida Dergham, senior diplomatic correspondent for Al Hayat and political analyst
for MSNBC.

A special reception for major donors and selected guests with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah followed the symposium. Sponsors included Wa’el Chehab, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Richard A. Debs and his wife Barbara, alumna and top fashion designer Reem Acra, Trustees Abdel Mohsen Al-Qattan, Hutham Olayan, Ray R. Irani, Ali I. Ghandour, and Rodney B. Wagner. Among the guests were Deputy US Ambassador to the UN James Cunningham, Ambassador
of the Arab League to the UN Yahya Mahmasani, Consul-General of Lebanon Rami Mortada, American Mornings Anchor Paula Zahn, CNN; and MSNBC Correspondent Ashleigh Banfield.
AANA President Ara Tekian, the first gala dinner speaker, remarked
to the crowd that, “Many graduates, including myself, feel strongly indebted towards AUB not only for the outstanding education we received but also for the values instilled in us through its unique educational culture.” He stressed that ensuring that an AUB education is available to all qualified students should be a priority for alumni: “AUB has been a fertile ground in the region for generations. We must continue to provide so that all grow to their full potential to become leaders.”

President John Waterbury then spoke about the mission of AUB and the University’s commitment to providing a strong undergraduate education that “is designed to lead to journeys of self-discovery.” He further explained the University’s belief in the value of a general education versus specialization because it “provides a framework for constant intellectual renewal.” He concluded, “Your support of our mission will perpetuate the AUB difference. Through AUB you will contribute to the bright future of the Middle East.”

AUB Chairman of the Board of Trustees Richard A. Debs introduced keynote speaker Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan. He cited her tremendous commitment to education, child welfare, and to public service in Jordan and throughout the world.

Her Majesty noted she is familiar with the spirit of AUB, having graduated from the American University in Cairo. Remarking that we live in a “world threatened by new divisions,” she acknowledged there has been misunderstanding and mistrust between the East and the West. However, she optimistically noted, “The walls are not built; the gates are not yet closed. Your university, and you yourselves, provide an important bridge linking other cultures and continents.” AUB graduates, she pointed out, have “the ability to understand the issues in all their complexity and depth…Good decisions will require the ability to think critically and clearly, to open our minds to each other, to listen carefully and well…AUB has prepared its graduates to make a tremendous impact for good.”

She concluded by affirming that AUB alumni carry with them an educational and philosophical legacy steeped in the values of tolerance and reason: “The Middle East is better for it…and when I look around this room, it is clear how much the United States itself has benefited.”


London Dinner Kicks Off AUBís Fundraising Campaign in the UK

AUB’s $140 million Campaign for Excellence received a grand send-off in the UK at a dinner hosted and organized by Trustee Michael Fares and his wife Lara in London’s Dorchester Hotel on December 4, 2002. Alumni, AUB leaders, Lebanese dignitaries, guests from the British business community, and friends of Lebanon and the Middle East responded enthusiastically to the university plans described by President John Waterbury in his address to 100 guests.

Michael Fares opened the program by proclaiming, “Most of us here tonight share a common passion with President John Waterbury—and that is AUB.” He went on to describe the leadership role AUB has played in the region since its inception, and praised the University’s emphasis on a liberal education that fosters “the depth of vision and the breadth of culture that characterizes the AUB graduate.” Mr. Fares explained his family’s connection to AUB: “My father, Issam Fares, passed on his admiration and enthusiasm for the AUB cause and we now take pride in his long association with the University. We think of AUB as a bridge of learning and understanding, joining North America to Lebanon and the Arab region.”

Introducing Dr. Waterbury, Fares noted his achievements over the
last five years. These include a review of all academic programs, the addition of 100 new faculty members, the establishment of a new AUB School of Business, the advancement of information technology, and an increase in faculty morale. President Waterbury thanked Mr. and Mrs. Fares and the guests for their support, declaring that “the Campaign in the UK is off to a great start.” Chair of the Campaign for Excellence Kamal Shair then briefed the audience on the status of the fundraising campaign and its goals for the next six years.

Fares says he organized the program because “as a Trustee and Lebanese citizen I wanted to show my appreciation for all that
Dr. Waterbury is doing to reinvigorate the University.” Another benefit, he explains, is that he was able to publicize the launch of the largest fundraising campaign in the history of AUB to the University’s London constituency. “Nothing motivates an audience more than hearing
Dr. Waterbury speak about AUB,” said Fares.

In addition to Dr. Waterbury, special guests included Jihad Mortada, Lebanon’s ambassador to Great Britain; AUB trustees Kamal Shair, Nabil Chartouni, Paul Collins, Abdul Mohsen Al-Qattan; also Yousef Abu-Khadra, Walid Abu-Suud, George Assiely, Fares Fares, Mansour Fustuk, and their wives.

The UK dinner is the first of many events to be held around the world for alumni and friends in conjunction with the Campaign for Excellence.