The latest episode of Kalam Ennass, renowned talk show broadcast weekly on LBCI, was centered on the American University of Beirut (AUB) on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the university. Host Marcel Ghanem sat down with President Fadlo Khuri on Thursday February 16 for a two-hour long interview broadcast live from Assembly Hall.
The episode also featured eight reports covering a variety of personal reflections on AUB, the main and historical buildings on campus, AUBMC’s 2020 vision, the AUB Archeological Museum, among others.
During the episode, students had the chance to ask questions, which Dr. Khuri answered live. Among the topics discussed were students clubs, tuition fees, athletic scholarships, and fostering entrepreneurship.
Dr. Khuri assured the audience his main mission was to make tuition fees the least of the worries for students and their parents, making the university accessible to all social classes, and ensuring diversity on campus which has long been a hallmark of AUB.
He also highlighted the importance of athletics and the need to initiate new scholarships to support bright and talented athletes.
AUB legacy and futureDr. Khuri highlighted AUB’s legacy, and the important role it played in the history of the region. The culture of tolerance and understanding that was fostered on campus has been reflected on the Ras Beirut area, he said, one of the reasons during the Civil War that the area did not witness as much violence as elsewhere in Lebanon.
Dr. Khuri stressed that AUB was fortunate to have one of the most diverse and talented boards in the world. It combines successful leaders, businessmen, innovators, and academics, and discussing the future of AUB and of the region is always on the table.
Dr. Khuri highlighted the initiatives AUB is taking to help refugees, asking “if AUB didn’t help, who would?” More than 60 projects are currently taking place in the North, South, and Beqa’a regions, all aiming at sustainable support for refugees when it comes to education and medical help.
Dr. Khuri insisted that AUB would always be a place of freedom of speech, where students, staff, and faculty members had the chance to discuss all topics in a safe and respectful manner.
He also highlighted the diversity on campus, where 21 percent of students are international. When it comes to equality, Dr. Khuri spoke of the Title IX initiative that aims to eliminate discrimination on campus. He also mentioned the initiatives taken to enhance the role of women in higher education.
Dr. Khuri spoke of the BOLDLY AUB campaign that was launched at AUB in January. The campaign aims at advancing the university as a whole through raising $650 million.
Among many questions, Ghanem asked about Maroun Semaan’s generous donation to the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at AUB, and the episode featured a report on Mr. Semaan’s career as a successful businessman and community influencer.
Ambitious programAmong the pre-recorded video clips was an appearance by Khaled Abdel Rahman—the young games product manager who graduated from AUB with a BA in computer science and is now a rising star at Google, after working on the Pokemon Go game, which took the gaming world by storm last summer.
Abdel Rahman highlighted the role AUB played in his career, and said that without the freedom and the high level of education he obtained at AUB, he wouldn’t be where he was now.
Other clips featured the recollections of trustees, public figures, prominent politicians, and WAAAUB members about their time at AUB and the impact it had upon them.
While answering the students’ questions, Dr. Khuri said that transparency and student involvement in decision making is very important for the advancement of the university.
He shed light on the town hall meetings that are being organized for a two-way communication between students and the administration, as well as having the University Student Faculty Council representatives present at meetings discussing budget planning, among other things.
When asked how he would like to be remembered, Dr. Khuri said that it was not about his personal legacy, but rather about the achievement of the goals he’s set for the University.
“Some people are happy if they achieve 30% of their objectives, but that is not enough for us; we want to achieve 100% of our goals,” he said.
He said he would be happily retired if he knew that at the end of his tenure any bright student would be able to join AUB irrespective of their financial status.
During the episode, many were tweeting to @Kalamennas using the hashtag #الجامعة_الاميركية_عطيتني, which translates to “AUB gave me”, and their tributes were read by Ghanem on air.
The episode also included two music performances, the AUB Alma Mater and a medley of Zaki Nassif songs by AUB-based band Teyyaret Waraa. The episode is available online on http://www.lbcgroup.tv/watch/32004/aub/en.