Dear Members of our LAU Community, When we embarked on the new spring semester, we had hoped to witness the gradual return of our students to campus, which will now have to wait until the second wave of COVID-19 has passed.One of the many issues we were g
  President’s Forum: Notes from Dr. Mawad  
Michel E. Mawad, M.D.

Dear Members of our LAU Community,

When we embarked on the new spring semester, we had hoped to witness the gradual return of our students to campus, which will now have to wait until the second wave of COVID-19 has passed.

One of the many issues we were grappling with at the beginning of this semester was the students’ objection to the adjustment of the tuition fees. Following talks with the Student Council, I, along with the President’s Cabinet, the Council of Deans, our colleagues from Financial Aid and Student Affairs, held a virtual town hall with the students on January 22 to discuss the situation with regard to LAU’s financials, and tackle head-on the matter of the budget, tuition fees (including the adjustment announced in December), and financial aid. The objective was to impress on the students that the university is doing everything in its power to provide them with financial support, to the tune of $80 million, while it tries hard to weather the crisis brought about by the economic collapse in the country.

In response to the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases, we ramped up our fight against the disease on two fronts. LAU’s Emergency Health Response Committee launched an awareness campaign on the importance to wear a mask as a vital first line of protection, while the LAU Medical Center-Rizk Hospital – which had reached full capacity – set up additional temporary units to receive the overflow of infected patients, and prepared the COVID-19 Vaccination Village where it has recently started administering vaccines supplied by the Ministry of Public Health. 

Our sincere desire to assist in the vaccination strategy at state-level and the country’s inability to contain the second wave of the pandemic have also pushed us to take immediate action to protect our constituents. Fundraising is currently underway for a campaign to supplement the national strategy by sourcing directly additional quantities of vaccines to help with the immunization efforts for all communities across Lebanon, as well as to immunize our faculty, students and staff, and increase our COVID-19 response capabilities. The campaign has already earned the support of Mr. Bahaa Hariri who donated $1 million, Mr. Fadi Abu Chalach who donated $100,000 and the LAU Dubai Alumni Chapter that donated $30,000.

It is heartening to see that, the challenges notwithstanding, our faculty’s stellar achievements continue to raise the profile of our university. I would like to congratulate two faculty members at the School of Pharmacy for their high accolades: Clinical Associate Professor and Chair of Pharmacy Practice, Dr. Soumana Nasser, has been elected as president of the International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) Lebanon Chapter (LSPOR) for a two-year term; and Dr. Elsy Ramia, clinical assistant professor at the school, has been recognized as a Certified Professional in Patient Safety by The Certification Board for Professionals in Patient Safety.

Of note, too, is the fruitful collaboration between faculty and students. A part of a research project for which Assistant Professor of Chemistry Elias Akoury  secured funding from the International Society for Neurochemistry falls under SoAS’ signature Undergraduate Research and Discovery (URaD) program, involving chemistry undergraduates. And a review article by natural sciences graduate students under the supervision of Associate Professor of Biology Mirvat El-Sibai and Head of Infectious Diseases Roula Husni-Samaha sought to debunk the rhetoric against COVID-19 vaccines with scientific and historical facts.

During this critical phase of the pandemic, I must urge you all to observe the necessary precautionary measures and stay safe. Until such time as societal immunity is achieved in Lebanon, we are all at risk.

While we fully recognize that the university is still deeply enmeshed in a survival mode, our resolve to move as quickly as possible along the path of revival and excellence has never been stronger. This is a challenge that we can effectively address only with the full engagement and support of the entire LAU family and community.


Michel E. Mawad, M.D.
Lebanese American University