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Nassar’s presidential term extended one year

Q&A with LAU President Riyad Nassar

Dr. Riyad F. Nassar’s 21-year term as president of LAU was extended one more year to enable the Board of Trustees to find a replacement and to ensure continuity and stability of the institution.

Dr. Nassar has served as president since 1982, was dean of then Beirut University College 11 years prior to that, and filled in for the president from 1971 to 1982. He also served as chairman of the Natural Science Division at the institution. His teaching career at BUC, the Lebanese University, Georgia Institute of Technology and the American University of Beirut dates back to 1957.

In addition to his academic credentials, Dr. Nassar has held several consultancy positions and been a member of various educational and professional associations. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1965 from the Georgia Institute of Technology. His B.S. and M.S. in chemistry were awarded by the American University of Beirut in 1957 and 1959, respectively.

This interview was conducted in August 2003.

What led to the renewal of your term as president?

During the first round of elections for a new president in November 2002, there was no agreement on a candidate and a few trustees questioned the legality of the then constitution and bylaws of the Board of Trustees and Overseers. As a result of consultations on the matter with two U.S. law firms, a report was drawn up on the requirements of the Board of Regents, the law governing higher education in the state of New York and laws on not-for-profit organizations. Questions were submitted to the Board of Regents in New York and it, in turn, explained to LAU’s Board what the responsibilities of the Trustees were and how they were to delegate responsibility to other bodies.

What was the next step?

Based on this information, a committee of Trustees was charged with drafting a new constitution and bylaws that took into consideration all the requirements of the above three laws. After several drafts, the committee met in May 2003 and presented its final recommendation to the Trustees. The Trustees held an emergency meeting June 6 and 7, 2003, in New York and approved the new constitution and bylaws, which made a clear distinction between the Trustees and the old Board of Overseers, which was renamed the Board of International Advisers.

So the Board of Overseers ceased to exist?

All Overseers were informed of the changes and were asked to indicate whether or not they would like to join the Board of International Advisers. A meeting is scheduled at the Beirut campus for September 5, 2003 for the international advisers to discuss university business and make recommendations to the Trustees who will meet September 19 and 20, 2003 in New York.

So what happened in the search for a new president?

In that emergency June meeting the Trustees decided they needed more time to select a candidate for president. Since my term was to end September 30, 2003, the Trustees asked me to extend my term by one active academic year (to give them a chance to complete the selection process), and one sabbatical year (to compensate for several sabbaticals I could not take during my 22-year administration).

What will you do in the coming year?

During this coming year I’ll do my best to consolidate the institution, resolve all internal conflicts and make LAU ready to be handed to the next president, in order to make the transition of leadership smooth.

What message did the Board convey with extension of your term?

With this step, the Board is conveying to our supporters, friends, parents and students the stability of the university and its ability to deal with any emergency in a professional and effective manner.

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