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AUB News

Founders’ Day

Members and friends of the AUB community gathered in the Assembly Hall on December 3, 2003, to commemorate the 137th anniversary of the University’s birth. Clovis Maksoud (BA ’48), former chief representative of the League of Arab States to the United Nations, was the featured speaker.

In his welcoming address, President John Waterbury saluted the University’s long unwavering dedication to the moral values upon which it was founded, saying: “We celebrate the values that have been at the heart of AUB since 1866… One of those values is at the core of today’s theme: tolerance.”

It was a theme that resonated throughout the ceremony, in particular when Zahra Hankir read her essay on “Tolerance and Respect for Others,” in which she described her learning experience with a visiting professor—a homosexual—who had nourished her understanding of those values. She had learned that “to move forward is to tolerate” and that “come what may, tolerance is the true key to universal respect.” Hankir, a sophomore English major, had been chosen out of 22 other AUB students as the winner of the fifth annual Founders’ Day essay competition, which centers on a different theme each year.

Maksoud, currently professor of international relations and director of the Center for the Global South at the American University in Washington, DC, is internationally known as a distinguished journalist, diplomat, and academic. In his address, he began with the definition of tolerance as “the expression of respect for others… and a genuine commitment to freedom.” He then went on to express his views on the negative American reaction to Arabs after September 11. Insisting that “Arabs do not hate, but Arabs are angry,” he said they should respond by seeking dialogue instead of following “eager to please or eager to provoke” strategies. He emphasized, however, that the United States needs to realize its part in fomenting crisis in the Middle East and to change its policies. “Power projected ruthlessly engenders reckless response,” he warned.

Finance Center Opens at AUB

Intel CEO Craig Barrett cut the ribbon at the opening of the first Finance Competency Center in the Middle East and Africa on October 27, 2003. Funded by Intel, the center will showcase the latest in technologies of value to financial institutions, software developers, and the academic community.

“A healthy, technologically advanced banking and financial infrastructure is an absolute must for any market to develop and compete in the new economy,” said Barrett. “We believe that the Finance Competency Center at AUB constitutes a key platform for the transfer of knowledge and the development of applications that serve the specific needs of the region’s banks and financial institutions.”

Established under an AUB partnership with Intel, HP, and Microsoft, the center will benefit both the University’s students and the companies involved. Training sessions on using the new technologies will be conducted by representatives of Intel, Microsoft, and HP for AUB students and this, in turn, will enable the companies to get a sense of the potential caliber of their future work force.

The center’s equipment, all state-of-the-art, includes computer applications that are needed, for instance, to improve branch automation and electronic payments in the financial sector. This new regional access to the world’s latest in technology is expected to impact over 400 banks in the Arab world and 2,500 students throughout AUB by providing improved solutions to a variety of problems. Regional software houses will also use the Intel facilities to develop, test, tune, and optimize their programs.

Fawzi Azar Architecture Award Announced

For the fourth year in a row, the Fawzi W. Azar Architecture Award was made to the fifth-year students in the Department of Architecture who ranked first in their final projects. Sharing the award for the 2002-03 academic year were Ramzi Mezher and Rabih Ghanim. On a special visit to the campus in October, Nabil Azar, chairman of Builder’s Design Consultants personally congratulated the recipients and presented the $10,000 check to Huwayda Harithy, chair of the Department of Architecture.

Citigroup Renews Financial Aid Support

For almost four decades, Citibank has been providing tuition assistance for talented AUB students in business administration. More recently, in taking over as donor on behalf of Citibank, the Citigroup Foundation has been continuing that commitment and since 1995 its annual donations have reached a total of $375,000.

Once again, the Citigroup Foundation has endorsed AUB’s scholarship program by making a four-year grant of $100,000 that will cover the academic years of 2003-04 to 2006-07 and go to students of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business. Anthony Nelson, vice chairman of Citigroup Global Capital Markets, met with President Waterbury on October 30 to present the gift.

AUB Choir Celebrates the Holiday Season in Song

On December 16, an outdoor procession of the AUB Choir chanting the Gregorian hymn, “Ave Maria Maris Stella” hailed in the Christmas season. And for two successive evenings in Assembly Hall, it was standing room only. Under the direction of choirmaster Paul Meers, with Ramzi Sabra on the piano and organ and a brass ensemble from the Lebanese National Orchestra, the holiday program consisted of pieces by Sweelinck and Charpentier, as well as chorales of the “Christmas Oratorio” by Bach and selections from Brahms. What stirred the audience most, however, were the old familiar Christmas carols—among them “Good King Wenceslas” and “Twelve Days of Christmas.” The concert ended with a soprano rendition of the most uplifting carol of all, Joy to the World, after which everyone—including the choir—moved outside for the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree.

Abu Dhabi Branch again Shows its Support of AUB

Mohammad Suleiman, president of the AAA Abu Dhabi Branch, visited President Waterbury on October 3 to present him with a check in the amount of $110,000 to be added to the Abu Dhabi Alumni Endowed Scholarship and Abu Dhabi Medical Sciences Endowed Scholarship funds. President Waterbury, in thanking the Abu Dhabi alumni for their generous gift, lauded them for their continued efforts in helping make an AUB education possible for its many needy and qualified students.

Memories of a Chairman” Lectures

The lectures given in Issam Fares Hall last fall by two former chairmen of the long non-existent Department of Fine and Performing Arts provided the audience not only with pleasurable memories of “the good old days.” More significantly, they also reminded the AUB community that for almost three decades now, ever since the department closed in 1975, the University has been without a full-fledged arts program. And both professors strongly agreed it was about time to fill that void (granted that funds are available). The lectures were given at the invitation of the AUB Arts Committee, which is headed by President Waterbury.

John Carswell, who spoke in October, is a British painter, sculptor and art historian who was an AUB art department professor for 20 years (1956-76) and also served as its chairman in the late 1960s. Accompanying his lecture with slides showing the innovative exhibitions held by the department, he described the ultra-conservative Lebanese art scene of the early 1960s and how it responded to AUB’s avant garde art production. Lively and informal in his presentation, Carswell amused the audience with his humorous commentary on some of the incidents that resulted at the time from that early old-new confrontation in the arts.

Professor Arthur Frick, who spoke in December, is an American who also spent the same 20 years at AUB and in 1956 helped create the art department as its first chairman. The substance of his lecture focussed at length on the whys and hows of establishing a new, modern art program. He emphasized that this was of essential importance to the stature of AUB, a university that has always been distinguished as the top intellectual stimulus for revolutionary ideas in the region. In his opinion, liberal arts and art graduates generally do better than those who focus only on studies that can earn them a living. “They learn to think creatively, always searching for ways to advance,” he observed.

Frick, who left AUB and Lebanon when the war broke out, is a painter, poet, and professor who retired a few years ago from his long academic association with Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, where he was the long-time chairman of its art department and also founded its museum and gallery. In conjunction with his lecture, the AUB Art Committee displayed a collection of Frick’s paintings in the lobby of the hall, most of them executed during the years he spent in Lebanon. Art lovers in Lebanon will have an opportunity to see more Frick paintings in early 2004, when he returns for a show of his works at a Beirut art gallery.

Both Frick and Carswell made several recommendations for a possible future art department at AUB. Carswell suggested that courses be offered to both art and architecture students in the elements of basic design, printmaking, and photography, as well as in the history of architecture and Islamic art in the Near East “to inject a strong note of culture into the program.” Frick proposed a working involvement with the Lebanese handicrafts industry and also recommended introducing undergraduate degrees in Islamic and Near Eastern art. He advised caution in the use of the computer in art, however, insisting that it be accompanied by a strong complement of studio art courses and art history. In his opinion, art students should be “computer competent, but not at the expense of art.”

Sexuality in the Arab World

The three-day Conference on Sexuality in the Arab World, which opened at the Gefinor Rotana Hotel on the evening of December 5, was noted for its comprehensive agenda of lectures presented by an impressive list of academics well versed in the wide variety of topics that came under discussion. The conference was sponsored by the AUB Center for Behavioral Research in cooperation with the Middle East Center of St. Antony’s College, Oxford.

The conference began with opening remarks by Eugene Rogan of Oxford and Samir Khalaf, director of the AUB center, after which the keynote address was delivered by John Gagnon of SUNY, Stony Brook, on “Issues in Comparative Sex Research: Global Local Tensions.” A welcoming reception for the large number of attendees followed.

The next morning, the conference proceedings moved to AUB’s West Hall. Below is a brief summary of the papers presented and discussed in the six sessions that were held.


On page 40 of the Alumni Activities Worldwide section of MainGate Summer/Fall 2003, the following correct information should be noted for the Engineering and Architecture Chapter in Lebanon:
The July 30, 2003 reunion was organized by AUB’s Faculty of Engineering and Architecture and Mr. Albert Matta, with assistance from the AUB Development Office and the Engineering and Architecture Chapter, and 295 guests attended. FEA Dean Ibrahim Hajj noted that the number of students in the FEA grew from about 300 undergraduates when he was a student in 1964 to 1,200 undergraduates and 185 graduates in the spring 2003 semester—more than four and a half times more than when Dean Hajj was a student. Mr. Albert Matta, not Albert Kuraan, was awarded the National Order of Merit from French President Chirac.
Corrected photo caption: Samir Kadi, AUB Development Office; Sami Alamuddin, president of the Engineering and Architecture Chapter; Ibrahim Hajj, FEA dean; Ousta Abou-Rjeileh, president of the Municipality of Bhamdoun Al-Mahatta; and Albert Matta, host and owner of the Al-Sheikh Hotel and chairman of the Lebanese Business Council.

The first session on the socio-historical perspective of sexuality opened with a paper that examined the difficulties faced by Lebanese emigrants at the turn of the last century as they moved from a traditional Arab way of life into the more “open” society of America. The second paper explored the conceptions of body, gender and sexuality in 18th-century Damascus, and the third paper addressed public health, sexuality and colonialism during the late Ottoman period in Beirut.

The second session, addressing how sexuality is portrayed in Arabic literature, began with an inquiry into the representation of sexuality by two modern Arab poets. This was followed by an analysis of the implications on the postwar Lebanese mindset of a more recent novel inspired by the same theme, after which an in-depth look into the impact of the female nude in European painting on Ottoman culture concluded the session.

The third session, which addressed issues of sexual identity, began with the analysis of a survey of college students on their sexual knowledge and perceptions. Then came an investigation into what the students themselves think about sex, based on their personal views and writings. This was followed by a study focussing on the problems of a Lebanese male caught between two cultures by his move to America.
The fourth session, which opened the next morning, dealt with sexuality in the family. The first paper presented case studies of domestic servants in the Arab household; the second gave the results of research on Lebanese attitudes towards child sexual abuse; the third addressed the issue of child labor in Lebanon; and the fourth compared two studies on persistence and change in gender stereotyping.

The fifth session, which looked into sexual health in Lebanon, began with a presentation of the preliminary research undertaken on the subject. This was followed by a policy paper on reproductive health, based on surveys from the World Health Organization and other sources.

The sixth and final session on eroticization of the human body produced a lively heated discussion, sparked by strong differing opinions on this sensitive topic. The issues addressed by the four papers presented were on the social dynamics of chastity in Damascus, female body images in Tunisia, homosexuality in Beirut, and the prevalence
of pre-marital repair of the hymen.

Professor Samir Khalaf wrapped up the conference by applauding the large step taken in simply discussing such controversial issues in an open forum. The proceedings of the conference are to be published, and several university presses have already expressed interest in undertaking that enterprise.

Professors Emeriti Honored

Marquand House widely opened its doors for an unprecedented event in October 2003 when President and Mrs. John Waterbury hosted a luncheon in honor of some of the great academics of AUB, its professors emeriti.
In welcoming his guests, President Waterbury told them he was extremely honored to receive such a distinguished group of people who had contributed so much for so many years to making AUB the great institution it is. Attending were Professors Sami Abboud-Klink, Charles Abu-Shaar, Edmond Shwayri, Ibrahim Dagher, Salim Firzli, Fuad Said Haddad, Fuad Sami Haddad, Raja Iliya, Philip Issa, Widad Khalaf, Salim Macksoud, Nassim Nabbut, Raif Nassif, George Rubeiz, Fateh Sakkal, Samir Shehadi, Riad Tabbara, Abdul Mun’im Talhouk, and Nicola Ziadeh.

AUB Hosts Reception at International Monetary Fund/World Bank Dubai Meeting

AUB Chairman of the Board of Trustees Richard A. Debs and President John Waterbury hosted a reception to celebrate the naming of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business for the friends and alumni of the University who were in Dubai at the end of September 2003 for the IMF/World Bank meeting. Held at the Royal Mirage Hotel, the event was attended by over 100 people, among them Sheikh Jumaa’ Al-Majed of the Jumaa’ Al-Majed Group; Sheikh Salem Al-Subah, governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait and member of the International Board of Overseers of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business; AUB trustee Alexander Erklentz; and Khaled Olayan, CEO of The Olayan Group and member of the International Board of Overseers of the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business

.AUB Chairman of the Board Richard A. Debs Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

The Arab Bankers Association of North America (ABANA) awarded Richard A. Debs, chairman of the AUB Board of Trustees, their Lifetime Achievement Award on November 20, 2003 at a gala dinner in New York. Many AUB trustees and administration members in town for the November 21 board meeting joined the New York banking community as they paid tribute to Dr. Debs and his distinguished career. Debs was introduced by the Honorable Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Mr. William R. Rhodes, senior vice chairman, Citigroup; and Mr. Tarek Abdel-Meguid, head of Investment Banking at Morgan Stanley.

Addressing the audience, Debs said, “One of AUB’s primary missions is to serve as a bridge between the United States and the Arab world, and today that mission is more important than it has been at any time in its 140 year history. But in view of the scale of the problems that we face today, much more effort is needed—more bridges are needed.”

He continued, addressing the audience: “You know and understand and comprehend so much more about the Arab world than most Americans. And you know so much more about America and its people than most people in the Arab world—by far. So you are well—equipped to play a very important role serving as a bridge, and helping people on each side of the bridge to understand each other better.”

Debs was the founding president of Morgan Stanley International and is now an advisory director of Morgan Stanley and a member of its International Advisory Council. Before founding Morgan Stanley International, Debs was chief operating officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and an alternate member of the Federal Open Market Committee. He is a member of the board of the Gulf International Bank as well as other financial institutions. One of ABANA’s founding members, Debs has long served as a link between the US and Arab financial communities.

AUB History Professor Visiting Scholar at Tufts

The Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies at Tufts University welcomed Professor of History Abdul Rahim Abu Husayn as visiting scholar for the fall 2003 semester. While in Boston, Abu-Husayn was a visiting professor at Harvard University as well, where he taught a graduate seminar. He also saw the publication by I. B. Tauris of his latest book, The View from Istanbul: Ottoman Lebanon and the Druze Emirate, and was invited to lecture at the College of William and Mary, Harvard, and Princeton University.

Sheikh Fawzi Azar Memorial Prize for Social and Behavioral Sciences Grad Students

The Sheikh Fawzi Azar Memorial Prize at the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences was awarded in 2002-03 to five exceptionally gifted and resourceful graduate students—all women. The recipients, chosen in a tight competition, were Samar Kanafani, Nadine Khalil, Rayane Alamuddine, Jesse Downs, and Aliya Zoughbi.

The prize was established in 1990 by the Beirut Lions Club to encourage research. On July 29, 2003, Dr. Amine Daouk, president of the Beirut Lions Club and Sheikh Nabil Fawzi Azar, general manager of Builders Design Consultants, visited AUB to present the awards and congratulate the recipients.

AIDS Concert

A benefit concert was held at the AUB Assembly Hall on December l to mark World AIDS Day. Featuring the AUB Choir and Choral Society, the classical concert included Chopin’s Nocturne, op. 72 on piano, followed by a toccata by Khatchurian. The soprano voice of AUB music professor Reem Deeb richly rendered the next two pieces, “Ave Maria” and “Gesu Bambino”, after which the choir took over with several poignant pieces by Brahms. His “Song of Farewell” and “Lost Youth” were well chosen to convey the message behind the event. The lyrics were printed in the program to remind the audience, all wearing red AIDS ribbons, of the growing problem of the disease in Lebanon. In ending the concert, a memorable solo by Alicia Demerjian picked up the pace with Debussy’s “Jardins sous la pluie,” followed by a passionate interpretation by Ihab Hassan of three pieces by Beethoven, Chopin, and Paganini.Marquand House Reception for the Women’s Auxiliary

On September 25, 2003, President and Mrs. John Waterbury hosted a reception at Marquand House in honor of the AUBMC Women’s Auxiliary, which was attended by all the volunteers of its Coffee Shop, Bargain Box, and Volunteer Services.

President Waterbury, in presenting a gift to the auxiliary’s outgoing president, Nabila Firzli, expressed his great admiration for the mission of the auxiliary and thanked the volunteers for their countless hours of untiring service. Since its formation more than 50 years ago, he said, the Auxiliary’s work has produced a total of over one million dollars in financial contributions to AUB. Vice President of Medical Affairs Nadim Cortas, who was also there to thank the “Ladies in Pink” for their years of selfless giving, presented incoming president Leila Iliya with a shield listing all past presidents of the Women’s Auxiliary and wished the newly elected board continued success. On her part, Mrs. Iliya promised “more gifts to come.”

MBI Foundation Provides Scholarship Support

Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa, donor of the generous Mohamed Bin Issa (MBI) Scholarship program at AUB, visited the University on December 15 to meet with President Waterbury. During the meeting, Sheikh Mohamed reaffirmed his support of the University and expressed his readiness to consider any major project that will foster higher education and reward diligent Arab students.

The MBI Scholarship enables individuals from the Arab world to complete an MA degree at AUB so that they, can make a more significant contribution to the development of their home countries. The MBI Foundation signed an agreement with AUB in July 2002, under which it will provide $166,000 to cover two-year scholarships to graduate Arab students. In 2003-04, eight students benefited from the program.