From the President – Spring 2023
After eight years as president of the American University of Beirut, I see more than ever how AUB can contribute to the development of a sustainable economy in our host nation, Lebanon, where we have deep and permanent roots. As educators and as the largest private sector employer in the country, we are uniquely positioned to help.
Having witnessed the talent of AUB’s faculty and students as well as the unrelenting exodus of Lebanon’s youth to jobs and futures in other countries, I wonder how to help reverse this long-standing trend? And if successful, how can we extend this success to other citizens of the Global South, who also count our university as home?
Lebanon, like AUB, must be built on the twin pillars of belonging and accountability. It is the foundation of our VITAL strategic plan, which we began to implement in 2020. The five pillars of VITAL are the sharing of our liberal and inclusive values, enhancing and translating our capacity for innovation, transforming the university experience, advancing our research excellence, and lifting the quality of life and health across the region.
Despite the ravages of the last few years, AUB recently welcomed one of its largest and most academically excellent student cohorts. We also maintained student diversity, with international students making up approximately 20 percent of the population, and citizens of more than 80 countries currently enrolled or working at AUB. We are actively enhancing our educational offerings to better empower tomorrow’s citizen leaders for the challenges they will face in under-resourced, nascent nation-states. AUB must lead through modernizing our curriculum, expanding our academic offerings, and extending our reach, graduating leaders who are job creators. In an era where much work is performed at a distance, we must ensure that more of those jobs are created and filled in Lebanon and the region. This will lead to more participatory, sustainable, and modern economies.
The VITAL realignment of AUB is focused on critical goals: to lead the development of modern, diversified, inclusive, and sustainable nations, where citizenship, ownership, belonging, and accountability lead to a more abundant life for all.