Features | Profiles
Ensuring an abundant life at AUB
by Eric Eyges
Fall 2019/Winter 2020
As AUB’s director of financial planning, Maria Mansour plays a central role in the functioning of the university. From the Office of Financial Planning, nested in a cozy nook of College Hall, funds that are the lifeblood of every professor’s paycheck, every student’s final project, every lab, every classroom desk, air conditioner, and light bulb, are earmarked for payment.
In her role, Mansour must often manage competing demands from ambitious department chairs who want to expand and support student bodies. But not all dreams can be fulfilled. And so Mansour must preside like Speaker of the House in a raucous parliament. “I negotiate the needs of departments, assess sources of income, and allocate that income to faculties and departments, all of whom have worthy causes,” she says. “The most challenging aspect is trying to satisfy everyone.”
Mansour’s whole life—from birth on—has been linked to AUB, having grown up in Ras Beirut. “The campus was my playground,” she says. She spent her childhood picking at the exotic trees and shrubs nestled between the Ottoman-style buildings and jumping off the rock face that is AUB Beach. As a teenager, she witnessed the bombing of College Hall: “I heard it, felt it the night before, and saw the damage in the morning.”
Despite that tragedy and many others that came with the civil war, she remembers her childhood fondly. Ras Beirut, with its mixed, international character, offered some solace from the sectarian forces that ate up the rest of the country.
“AUB was always the place to go,” says Mansour, and not just for her, but for her uncles, aunts, cousins, and siblings, most of whom are AUB alumni. She entered the university herself in 1990 and graduated with a business degree in June 1993. After a brief summer of leisure, she returned to campus a few months later as an accountant in the Comptroller’s Office.
“I found a job there. I didn’t search for any other position. This is where the journey started, and where it continues. It was a very smooth transition. Since then I’ve climbed the professional ladder, year after year.” She pushed herself, enrolling in the Suliman S. Olayan School of Business’s Executive MBA program. “I was a full-time student and employee. There were times I had to wake up at 4 a.m. to finish assignments.”
But it was a labor of love. “I love my job; I am detail-oriented and like to analyze all the figures that are part of AUB’s big puzzle. I supervise three people—an extremely hard-working team. We are one family. AUB is my first family, not my second. I’m married to AUB,” she laughs.
Looking ahead, she hopes to find more creative ways to solve the university’s budgetary challenges: “I was honored to be part of the new master planning for the university. I’m looking forward to 2030 when this master plan is in place. I think this will be a challenging time and a transformative one for AUB.”