LAU hosts Third Annual New York Gala
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September 23, 2013—
Over 250 guests attended LAU’s Third Annual New York Gala on September 13, celebrating a year of extraordinary historical achievements.
Hosted at The Pierre hotel in Manhattan, the event was attended by several prominent figures, including former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Lebanese Ambassador to the United Nations Nawaf Salam, Lebanon’s Consul General Majdi Ramadan, and Switzerland’s Consul General François Barras.
This year’s gala was held in conjunction with the inauguration of LAU’s New York Headquarters and Academic Center. Located at 211 E 46th Street, the 30,000 square-foot center will offer a number of courses to students in the U.S. in areas of LAU expertise.
“LAU has quickly ascended the ranks to become a higher education powerhouse in the MENA region,” LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra told the audience. “The New York center is a testimony to our extraordinary commitment to furthering cross-cultural education and understanding.”
The facility is the crowning achievement in a year of remarkable activity for LAU. The LAU Executive Center in Solidere opened in August 2013, and the university will welcome the first students in the Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design in collaboration with Elie Saab this semester. Meanwhile, the first class from the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing graduated this summer.
Proceeds from the gala will benefit the university’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World, the oldest institute in the Arab world devoted to academic research on women and gender relations. LAU itself evolved from the first girls’ school in the Ottoman Empire. The American School for Girls was established in 1834 by the missionary Sarah Huntington Smith.
The university’s Sarah Huntington Smith Award was presented to three distinguished Lebanese-Americans. Dr. Edgar Choueiri is a prominent plasma physicist at Princeton University and president of the Lebanese Academy of Sciences. Ray LaHood was U.S. secretary of transportation from 2009-2013 and represented Illinois’ 18th congressional district in the House of Representatives from 1995-2009. Judge Jeanine Pirro was the first female district attorney of Westchester County in New York State, and stars in Fox News’ reality legal television show, “Justice with Judge Jeanine.”
Receiving their awards from Jabbra and LAU Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Paul Boulos, all three honorees highlighted the important role universities can play in fostering peace, prosperity and innovation. “LAU is shining like a shooting star in the region,” remarked Choueiri. He nevertheless lamented the low esteem with which research, particularly scientific research, was held in the region, noting Arab League states registered only 370 patents between 1980 and 2000. In the same period, South Korea alone registered around 15,000.
As the evening drew to a close, honors were given to outgoing Board of Trustees members Ghassan Saab and Peter Tanous. The gala was emceed by Lebanese journalist and LAU alumna Shada Omar (‘93), and featured performances by the Alex Donnor Orchestra.