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Alumni Profile
Diplomacy Personified

AAA Member HE Nadim Dimechkié has made a career of promoting strong ties between Lebanon
and AUB and the world


After stepping into His Excellency Nadim Dimechkié’s beautiful salon, with its view stretching from St. George’s Bay across to Jounieh Bay and on to snow covered Mt. Sannine beyond, it is easy to understand why this distinguished AUB alumnus (BA ’40, MA ’55) and longtime diplomat returned home to Lebanon for his retirement.

Ambassador Dimechkié described how his launch into the world of international diplomacy came when his regular morning swim off Ras Beirut was interrupted by a police officer, who led him unceremoniously to the office of Camille Chamoun. Soon he was on his way to London as economic counselor to the Lebanese Legation afterward, in 1945, and he later attended the first session of the United Nations.

Dimechkié’s fruitful diplomatic career took him to such varied locales as Egypt, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, the United States, and the United Kingdom from 1952-78. Throughout, he participated in numerous international economic and trade conferences, UN sessions, and Arab League summit meetings. On stepping down in 1979, Dimechkié worked as a business consultant and devoted his energies to promoting Arab-Anglo and then Arab-European relationships while based in Geneva.

Having grown up in a traditional Arab house located on Bliss Street, just opposite Fisk Hall, HE Dimechkié has maintained strong and committed ties to AUB. In 1995, he was elected president of the AUB Alumni Association (AAA), conditional on his serving only one term. During his tenure, he reunited divided factions among the alumni and strengthened relationships between the Alumni Association and AUB.

As an ex officio member, he continues to attend meetings of the AAA Council. “I remain in close contact and contribute as much as I can. I am very interested in the activities of the Alumni Association,” he said. In recent years HE Dimechkié has continued to serve AUB directly as chairman of the College Hall Fundraising Committee and, more recently, as head of the Scholarship Aid Fundraising Committee, which is planning a number of events for 2003.

Ambassador Dimechkié has warm memories of AUB. “When I was a student,” he reminisced, “we were such a small group that we knew our professors intimately. Several of them remained my friends long after graduation.” Expressing concern over the opening of so many new universities in Lebanon, he emphasized the benefits of low student-professor ratios and the intimacies of campus life. “AUB should not get too much larger,” he said. “I like the campus life. It keeps links among students and close ties between students and faculty.”

 

An Active Agenda

AANA President Ara Tekian shares his thoughts on the importance of alumni leadership in North America and his plans for increasing participation.

“When you have the support of the group, it is a good feeling,” said Ara Tekian on being unanimously elected president of the Alumni Association of North America (AANA) in 2002. Indeed, he earned the support of his fellow alumni with plenty of hard work: volunteering his expertise to the University on academic programs, chairing the 2001 Chicago alumni convention, actively participating in the Midwest Chapter, and for his sheer love of all things AUB. Tekian, who is a prime example of alumni commitment to the alma mater, has serious plans for his two-year presidency.

His ambitions are many: reactivating lapsed chapters; increasing fundraising efforts of alumni; bringing North American alumni back to campus; creating a mentorship program; and fine-tuning the working relationship between AUB and North American alumni.

Tekian realizes that increasing alumni involvement can be a challenge, “People
always ask how they can help AUB,” he says. “We need programs that make it easy for alumni to get on board.” Tekian believes offering organized trips to campus is one sure way of getting more North American alumni engaged. “Parents can share memories with their children. Academics, medical professionals, and business people can lecture on campus,” he says enthusiastically. “Once alumni see what is happening on campus, they will make commitments—both financial and personal—to AUB.”

Fundraising is a top priority for Tekian. “With the Campaign for Excellence underway, it is especially important for chapters to be active and supportive,” he stresses. Accordingly, in coordination with AUB’s New York development office, he organized a successful fundraising retreat for AANA leadership on November 15 following the New York AANA Gala. He would also like to see alumni become more active in identifying potential donors and bringing them into the AUB community.
Likewise, he believes the University has
an important obligation in keeping North American alumni up-to-date to bolster their role as AUB ambassadors. “Institutional
visibility is a must especially today,” he stressed. “Alumni volunteers need to know what’s going on at AUB so they can better serve the University.”

Tekian, who is associate professor of medical education and director of international affairs at the College of Medicine, University of Illinois, Chicago, continues to lend his expertise to AUB’s academic programs. In the fall of 2002 he traveled to campus to work closely with Raja N. Khuri Dean of Medicine Nadim Cortas on curriculum planning for the Medical School.

Clearly, Tekian not only has impressive goals as AANA president—he also has
the energy to put them in place.