Office of the President

President's Report 2021

Key Areas

Student Development and Enrollment Management

Having adjusted to the new normal, students’ stamina continued to be manifest online, as they championed causes, earned international awards and scholarships, and presented their own research. 

A new Middle East Partnership Initiative - Tomorrow’s Leaders (MEPI-TL) program debuted at LAU with the start of Fall 2020: the Gender Scholars Program (MEPI-TLS), designed to strengthen awareness on gender education and activism. Fully funded by the US Department of State through MEPI, the program targets academically excelling Lebanese students. Throughout the year, the TLS scholars engaged in webinars, championed gender equality in the film industry, and summed up research findings by spreading awareness on controversial topics. The program closed the year with an insightful virtual conference that acknowledged and celebrated its scholars’ research endeavors.

During the fall semester, 11 undergraduate students were selected to join the Millennium Fellowship, a worldwide network of more than 1,400 students from 20 countries, who get trained to improve their organization, partnership building and community impact skills. They were selected based on proven leadership in relation to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

With the benefit of having run student council elections online for the past four years, LAU was the first university in Lebanon to ensure democratic student representation in 2020, especially in light of health restrictions. A high participation rate - standing at more than 60 percent - was reflective of students’ engagement.

In response to the mounting financial crisis in the country, LAU increased its allocated budget for financial aid and scholarships to more than $80 million per year. As of December 2020, 2,850 students automatically benefited from the increase, whereby 65 percent of the student body was on at least one form of aid.


A proposal by delegates of the LAU Global Classrooms Model United Nations (GC MUN) program to create an international database of job opportunities to ensure the economic inclusion of refugees was among eight winners worldwide in the 2020 MUN Refugee Challenge.

The SINARC Arabic Language and Culture Program at LAU hosted a series of free-of-charge webinars to introduce the Lebanese dialect to international students. The series was a hit, attracting more than 300 Arabic language enthusiasts. It was put together by SINARC faculty, as well as LAU student buddies who prepared a rich deck of interactive Lebanese content.

To document a myriad of leadership activities and success stories, the Higher Education Scholarship Program had introduced the monthly Higher Education Leadership Magazine (HELM). Similarly, the LAU MEPI-TL magazine spotlights its community’s endeavors every semester.

After having seamlessly shifted online, LAU’s flagship youth leadership simulation models powered on, with 180 LAU student leaders - the secretariat - at the helm. A new program - Model Good Governance (MGG) was inaugurated this year, to be added to the Model United Nations, Model Arab League, Model European Union and Model African Union. Together, the programs attracted 3,423 middle and high schoolers from all over Lebanon.

MEPI-TL undergraduate scholar Manal Benabid, a computer science major, volunteered her time and skills at World Learning Algeria to teach high-school students the basics of programing and coding.



Three University Scholarship Program (USP) students received the USP Excellence Award for their efforts to enact positive change within their respective communities.



In May 2021, MEPI and the US Embassy in Beirut recognized LAU MEPI-TL Executive Director Dina Abdul Rahman for her invaluable service to the program.



A culmination of months of hard work, research and planning, the MEPI-TL program spotlighted its undergraduate scholars’ capstone projects through a virtual session. TLUers (from left) Charbel Raad, Fatema Al Saffar and Janda Barazi seized the top three spots.

In May 2021, LAU received a sizable grant from the US Department of State, through MEPI-TL to support the Tomorrow’s Leaders College-to-Work Pipeline (TLP), a project designed to help students connect with employers and maximize their career prospects within the MENA region. Shared with the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and the American University of Beirut (AUB), the grant will support 40 TL Scholars who will gain experience through the Vertically Integrated Project (VIP). Thanks to the grant, LAU went on to join the VIP consortium that includes 45 universities from around the world.


Together with the USAID, LAU celebrated the graduation of 66 University Scholarship Program (USP) scholars.

LAU closed the inaugural year for Tomorrow’s Leaders Graduate Program (TLG) with a two-day virtual conference: Youth Leadership Through Interdisciplinary Knowledge Production. Graduate scholars presented their research at the event that was held in partnership with AUB and the American University in Cairo (AUC).

LAU Athletics named Nour Ghoussaini (BS ‘21) Female Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year, following several wins that earned her a spot on the Joseph G. Jabbra Gymnasium Wall of Fame.


Considering health restrictions which have impeded in-person commencement ceremonies for a second year, LAU President Michel E. Mawad conferred degrees upon the graduating class of 2021 virtually.



During the summer of 2021, nine exceptional LAU students received the globally renowned Fulbright Scholarship. The university celebrated the scholars and drew inspiration from their experiences.




On the first day of the fall 2021 semester, LAU’s Beirut and Byblos campuses sprang back to life, following 18 months of full or partial closure. The reopening was made possible thanks to an extensive and swift vaccination campaign that successfully ensured the safe return to campus.


Graduate Studies and Research Office

In November 2020, a study conducted by Stanford Researchers listed Dean of the Office of Graduate Studies and Research (GSR) Samer Saab among the top 2 percent scientists in his field, and no. 1 in his specialty: Industrial Engineering and Automation.

As part of its continuing efforts to help faculty members in their research endeavors, the GSR obtained the approval of President Mawad and Provost Nasr for the appointment of Dr. Joseph Stephan as director of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Research Ethical Compliance, and Dr. Ralph Abi-Habib as director of Sponsored Programs, effective January 2021.

The addition of these appointments will help to broaden the scope of academic expertise within GSR, improve the channels of communication between its office and the faculty body as well as its assistance to faculty in their research efforts be it grant submission, grant management and/or IRB application and management. 

In August 2021, the Office of Graduate Studies and Research (GSR) held its first Student Research Awards ceremony in recognition of undergrad and graduate students who have had an impressive research track during their years of study. The awardees, all of whom had published papers, were Vicky Panossian (Arts and Humanities), Achraf Jardaly (Life sciences and Medicine), Issam Abdo Ahmad (Social Sciences and Management), and Christelle Sawaya (Engineering and Technology).

The GSR created the initiative to consolidate a culture of graduate and undergraduate research across schools.

Institutes and Centers

The Arab Institute for Women


In AY2020-2021, the Arab Institute for Women (AiW) finalized the Equality for Everyone: Gender Reform from Grassroots to Government project funded by US-MEPI. Within this context, it launched a national advocacy campaign to raise awareness among Lebanese men and women about the importance of parental leave in improving the status of women in the workplace and to pressure decision-makers in Lebanon to adopt the draft law it had prepared with the National Commission for Lebanese Women. The AiW also conducted a gender audit for one municipality and has been working internally to pilot the policy amendments within LAU.

The institute also finalized the report on violence against reporters during the October 19, 2019 uprising, which was translated to Arabic, and published.

In December 2020, the institute launched an interactive website providing information to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer youth in Lebanon. The project featuring video and podcast series, a Q&A section and a glossary, was funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Lebanon.

In February 2021, in partnership with the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR), the AiW launched an annual human rights training for Arab women, with the aim of supporting the work of female activists, students, human rights advocates, bloggers, lawyers, and media professionals through capacity building. The first training was funded by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives.

Through its two phases, which will be given in Arabic by local and regional experts in human rights, the training is designed to help participants cast a gender lens on the work they do, use gender-sensitive tools especially when responding to crises, and learn to be inclusive of underserved and marginalized groups.


Marking International Women’s Day, AiW co-hosted one of nine simultaneous panels from Karachi, Oregon, California, London, Zagreb, Lagos, Nairobi, Amman and Beirut for the Third Athena 40 Global Conversation, this year themed Women’s Leadership in Times of Crises. More than 60 speakers connected from all around the world to share their stories and give an account of their endurance in a global pandemic and various local crises. The panels were centrally moderated by the BBC’s Tim Willcox.

The Academy of Continuing Education

In AY2020-2021, the Academy of Continuing Education (ACE) finalized the Sanofi project in collaboration with the Adnan Kassar School of Business (AKSOB), and the ICMPD project in collaboration with the Arab Institute for Women.

Due to COVID-19, ACE shifted to online learning, attracting a larger number of participants across the MENA region. ACE:

  1. Initiated partnerships with leading institutions to provide specialized training programs, such as the Elite Fitness Diploma in collaboration with the Sports Academy School (SAS), Logotherapy Diplomas in collaboration with the Logotherapy MENA and the Viktor Frankl Institute, and Digital Marketing Diplomas in collaboration with Blue Grapes Marketing. 

  2. Renewed the agreements pertaining to Teach for Lebanon (Leadership and Education training program for new teachers) and Muhanna Foundation (Municipal Administration and Finance Diploma program for municipal staff).

  3. Collaborated with LAU Alumni Office to provide online webinars in a variety of topics.

  4. Cooperated with various international organizations to offer innovative programs, such as:

    • Asynchronous online programs in Data Analytics, Python, programming and Artificial Intelligence with UNDP Iraq.

    •  Asynchronous courses in Design skills for Women Entrepreneurs as part of the project managed by the Lutheran World Relief (LWR) and funded by USAID that aims at training women in the Lebanese rural areas (a three-year program).

    • Online training courses in Project Management with the UNICEF.

    • Hospitality Services and Food Safety trainings offered to the Lebanese Youth in Tripoli’s urban areas with Ruwwad Al Tanmia. 

The Center for Innovative Learning

The Center for Innovative Learning (CIL) has been documenting the expertise gained in the past two years through its Faculty Fellows program and making it accessible to faculty on its website and via Blackboard. As it continues to enhance digital learning and teaching practices at LAU - assisting both faculty and students - the CIL has set up an e-learning platform, comprising workshops, presentations, meetings, tutorials, projects and many other useful materials, and is progressively expanding its equipment and facilities. Currently, the center is building four studios designated for enhancing the online teaching experience.

Since the launch of its Faculty Fellows program, the CIL has made four calls for proposals - in summer 2019, summer and fall 2020, and most recently fall 2021 - with new fellows joining the team

In fall 2021, the CIL also introduced its Faculty Brown Bag virtual series. Each of the five sessions, while loosely structured around a theme, offered a platform for faculty members to share their online teaching successful moments, commiserate over perceived failures, or just tune in to listen to what others had to say.

The Center for Lebanese Heritage

Under the direction of Henri Zoghaib, the Center for Lebanese Heritage (CLH) hosted several seminars focused on the preservation of Lebanon’s architectural and literary heritage. Post-August 4 explosion, and the destruction wrought on the city and old homes, the CLH held discussions with restoration architects on traditional houses as the façade of our authentic heritage.

In November 2020, the CLH organized a panel discussion with renowned authors Hassan Daoud, Jabbour El Douaihy - who would pass away the following year - Cherif Majdalani and Alexandre Najjar on the Lebanese features revealed in their novels.


The CLH also put out three more issues of its flagship Mirrors of Heritage in addition to a translation of This Man from Lebanon: A Study of Kahlil Gibran by Barbara Young, published in 1945 by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. The 600-page book in Arabic is divided into three parts comprising the translated manuscript, works and letters about Gibran by Young and other published after the poet’s death and never-before-seen photos.


Subsequently the LAU New York Headquarters and Academic Center organized a virtual discussion of the book with the participation of Mr. Zoghaib, Director of LAU NY Nadim Shehadi, physician and researcher Dr. Philip Salem, poet May Rihani, Dr. Adnan Haydar - head of the Arabic section in the department of foreign languages, literatures, and cultures and professor of Arabic and comparative literature in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences - and author Abdallah Naaman.

The Centre for Lebanese Studies

As part of the Vulner project - funded by a Horizon 2020 grant - conducted by the Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS) in partnership of a consortium with eight universities and research centers in Europe and Canada, the intermediate research results were published in a report titled The Vulnerability of Refugees Amid Lebanese Law and the Humanitarian Policies.

In December 2021, the Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS) announced the appointment of Dr. Cathrine Brun as Deputy Director for Research, tasked with handling specific research projects and developing research capacities. Before joining the CLS, Dr. Brun was a Professor in Geography at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (till 2015) and the Director of the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) at Oxford Brookes University (on leave from 2021).

In partnership with CENDEP, the CLS at LAU and CLS Amman marked World Refugee Day on June 20 with a week-long series of activities involving exhibitions, round-table discussions and documentary screenings.

A CLS report about the impact of COVID-19 on access and quality of education for children in Lebanon received widespread coverage. Its findings covered four main themes: the socioeconomic impact on students and teachers, access to education, the quality of education and readiness for taking the official exams.

In a TV appearance, CLS Director Maha Shuayb and Director General of the Lebanese Ministry of Education Fadi Yarak discussed the Human Rights Watch Report based on the centre’s research on refugee education and prospects, impact of the pandemic and the effect of education on refugee communities in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

The Fouad Makhzoumi Innovation Center

As part of the LAU Innovate from October 2020 up until September 2021, LAU Spark has successfully completed two cycles of the incubation program with 11 startups completing the full journey. More than 70 startups were accessed and 400+ mentorship and training hours were organized. In addition, seven applied research projects were assessed as part of the Innovatus program. For this year, the center also published the final draft of the IP policy for LAU.

LAU Louis Cardahi Foundation

In December 2020, as part of the Cultural Routes for Sustainable Social and Economic Development in the Mediterranean (CROSSDEV) project, the LAU Louis Cardahi Foundation and the Association for the Protection of Jabal Moussa inaugurated the cultural exhibit Life on the Mountain. The exhibit explored centuries of sustainable interaction between “man and nature” in the legendary Adonis Valley and Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve, protected by the General Directorate of Antiquities (DGA).

In March 2021, through the efforts of Dr. Rachid Chamoun, Lebanon became one of the Mediterranean countries to join the iHeritage project: ICT Mediterranean Platform for UNESCO Cultural Heritage, that aims to promote cross-border technological transfer and industry-academia collaboration, among others, using the latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

In addition to several webinars in collaboration with the Phoenicians’ Route and the Lebanese Tour Guides Syndicate, throughout AY2020-2021, LCF hosted lectures by experts in their field for LAU students of the Regional Urbanism Course at the School of Architecture and Design.

During a visit by the Polish Embassy and the Cracow University of Technology in October 2021, Dr. Rachid Chamoun gave the Polish Ambassador, his excellency Mr. Przemysław Niesiołowski, his staff and the Polish delegation from Cracow University of Technology - Prof. Maciej Motak, Prof. Bogusław Podhalański, and Prof. Kazimierz Butelski - a comprehensive tour of the foundation’s facilities.

University Advancement

Development Office

As the country’s economy continued in its freefall, LAU redoubled its fundraising efforts for student support, COVID-19 vaccines, and talent retention.  

Diversifying its fundraising campaign, the university held its first online art auction, LAU ArtsRising, an initiative undertaken by the Development Office, Alumni Relations Office both in Lebanon and LAU New York Headquarters Academic Center, and the Strategic Communications Department.  The funds raised from auctioning multimedia art by notable alumni and faculty artists, as well as friends of the university, were dispersed for the education of current and prospective students.

In April 2021, LAU joined a university consortium to secure vaccines for its immediate community, to be able to ensure the safe return to campus the following fall. Realizing early on the need to scale up the supply and delivery of vaccines, the university launched a crowdfunding campaign to procure FDA-approved vaccines directly from manufacturers, with the blessing of the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health.

By June, the first portion of the 80,000 Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines arrived at the LAU Medical Center-Rizk Hospital. Rollout to faculty, staff and students began immediately, following a swift vaccination campaign that extended to university alumni and family members of faculty and staff in late summer. The LAU Vaccination & COVID-19 Campaign is still ongoing.

In hopes of alleviating the gravity of the brain drain on LAU and the country, the president also launched a talent retention fund in May to ensure the continued delivery of excellent, American-style higher education and healthcare in Lebanon. The number of high-level professors and American board-certified physicians at the university and its medical centers had been dwindling.

Advancement Services

Having realigned its donor communications using online channels in AY2019-2020, the advancement division continued to provide support for all university entities that deal with external constituent groups and generate stewardship and donor reports.

Strategic Communications Department

LAU Now, the newsletter conceived by the Strategic Communications Department (Stratcom) the previous year with the aim to reconnect the LAU community virtually in the midst of the lockdown, evolved this year to become a tool for LAUers to tell their different stories, across several editions.

In response to circulating falsehoods around COVID-19 and its vaccine, Stratcom published a series of web articles that gave a platform to LAU’s own medical and scientific experts to educate and reassure the community at large on the safety of the vaccine and dispel myths surrounding it.

The department also created dozens of informative and awareness-spreading campaigns and multimedia content to support vital university functions and launched newly revamped websites for the different schools, institutes and entities.


In fall 2020, the university published The University on the Hill: the Remarkable Evolution of a Small Women’s College into a World-Class Universitya book commissioned by former President Joseph G. Jabbra, and led by former Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications Peggy Hanna, who recruited Dr. Maria Bashshur Abunnasr and senior researcher and writer Zina Hamady to co-write the book, which was designed and executed by current and former Stratcom staff.



Two other booksSarah and Her Sisters and The Meteoric Rise of LAU also recount the university’s growth, tracing its history back to the 19th century.


Alumni Relations Office

Though lockdowns and health restrictions upended most in-person Alumni Relations Office events, including LAU’s traditional Homecoming Week, the office was keen to recognize two outstanding alumni, whose work continues to leave a mark in Lebanon and beyond.


Having been an active member in the National Committee for COVID-19, Dr. Petra Khoury (BS ‘04, PharmD ‘05) received the Alumni Recognition Award, honoring her service to the country. Vice President of Partnerships for Instacart Mohamad Mourad (BS ‘94) also received the Alumni Achievement Award, in recognition of his significant professional journey.

Among the several notable recognitions that LAU alumni received in the course of AY2020-2021, three made their mark on the international screen with their films: Sara Fouladkar (BA ‘21)Karim Kassem (BA ‘12), and Oualid Mouaness (BA ‘94).


Fouladkar’s film Untold won Best First Time Director Award at the Art Film Awards Festival and the Jury Special Award Best Short Film at the Europe Film Festival.


Kassem’s docufiction films, Only the Winds and Octopus, were screened in Europe. He went on to receive the Best Film Award at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam for Octopus.


Mouaness’ film 1982 premiered during Unbroken: Memory and Identity in Lebanese Cinema, the film series co-organized by LAU New York Headquarters and Academic Center and Socially Relevant Film Festival NY.  

The office also kept up with its alumni lectures, albeit virtually, as they offered valuable food for thought to attendees from the university community and beyond. Speakers tackled timely topics such as mental health, crisis management, digital currency, and business leadership.

University Administration

The university remained steadfast in its pursuit of excellence thanks to unrelenting support from the Department of Institutional Research and Assessment, Human Resources, Information Technology and Facilities Management.

Throughout AY2020-2021, the Department of Institutional Research and Assessment (DIRA) continued to track and provide key information for the university’s rankings and accreditation. To name a few, DIRA supported the AACSB reaccreditation of the Adnan Kassar School of Business, the ASHP accreditation of the Postgraduate Year 1 Pharmacy Residency Program and the TEPDAD provisional accreditation for the Gilbert and Rose-Marie School of Medicine. The department has also played a notable role in ensuring that the university’s efforts are steadily reflected on global ranking charts, particularly subject rankings. DIRA also published key reports, including Facts and Figures and the annual LAU Fact Book.

As staff and faculty operated from home during lockdowns and challenging circumstances caused by the country’s fuel crisis, Human Resources ensured that they received all updates on closures and attendance modes. HR staff were on hand to handle queries and diligently processed payments and benefits in an unprecedented disruptive environment.

Information Technology continued to spearhead the shift to online learning, responding in a timely manner to the vast number of requests throughout lockdowns and power outages, and helping faculty with programs like Cisco WebEx and Panopto, and installing VPNs for clients who were working remotely.

Facilities Management had a busy year with the renovations of two major buildings on Beirut campus - Gulbenkian Theater and the Gezairi Building - and Orme Gray. The team also led relocation projects from off-campus rentals in Attieh Building to the main Beirut campus. Despite challenging conditions and health restrictions, FM was able to successfully finalize and deliver on projects that had been faced with unforeseen delays.


The renovated Gulbenkian Amphitheater on Beirut campus.



Gezairi building, home to the School of Architecture and Design.

University Enterprise Office

The University Enterprise Office (UEO) is the strategic consultancy, entrepreneurial development, and programs management arm of the Lebanese American University (LAU), both locally and internationally. Through its current activities, projects, and programs, UEO is structurally aligned with Pillar III of the latest LAU Strategic Plan (SPIII).

LAU Consult

In 2017, UEO launched LAU Consult as the consulting arm of LAU. LAU Consult thrives on helping its clients in the MENA region gain a local and regional strategic competitive edge in their respective industries, geographic markets, and social environments.

UEO-LAU Consult Projects/Initiatives


  1. Armed Services agreements - Partnership Programs

    The UEO developed the LAU Partnership Program and launched its corresponding brochure.

    LAU and the Lebanese Armed Services have partnered to offer officers, members and retirees of the Lebanese Armed Services, in addition to their spouses and children, access to LAU’s graduate programs and CE courses for 50 percent of the cost per credit. The Lebanese Armed Services include the Lebanese Army, the Lebanese General Security Directorate, the Lebanese State Security Directorate, and the Lebanese Internal Security Forces.
  2. Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL) Partnership Program

    LAU and IDAL partnered to offer IDAL employees, in addition to their spouses and children, access to LAU’s graduate programs and CE courses for 25 percent of the cost per credit.
  3. Sanofi Levant, Management Development Program

    LAU Consult performed the consulting assessment engagement, revamped the PCP program into the Patient Centric Partnership program, and developed three-year training journeys for each business unit and key account managers operating in the Levant. Out of this engagement resulted the SANOFI Development Program in partnership with LAU, which was launched within LAU in partnership with LAU CE and the Adnan Kassar School of Business (AKSOB) effective March 2021, and a video of which can be found at this Dropbox link.

Jordan - Balqa’ Applied University (BAU)

LAU Consult is actively planning the launch of a partnership with a Jordanian university to provide AKSOB’s EMBA courses to Jordan-based students of Balqa’ Applied University.

United States of America - USAID NORC, Subcontract agreement

Lastly, LAU Consult has performed a Stakeholder Analysis for RTAC/NORC at the University of Chicago in support of a USAID-funded project in Lebanon. The project assesses the political economy of industrial wastewater treatment in Lebanon.

LAU New York Headquarters and Academic Center

Fundraising took precedence at the LAU New York Headquarters and Academic Center in AY2020-2021 under the leadership of Assistant Vice president of Development Nadya Mikdashi and Director of Alumni and Special Projects Edward Shiner.

Throughout the year, LAU NY worked closely with the development office and advancement division on the ArtsRising auction to raise funds for student financial aid, and the LAU Vaccination & COVID-19 Response Campaign toward purchasing vaccines for the community.

In parallel, the center hosted several webinars, and, in collaboration with SR Socially Relevant Film Festival organized a film screening at the Lincoln Center of Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult and Oualid Mouaness’ 1982. Titled Un-Broken: Memory and Identity in Lebanese Cinema, the four-day hybrid event from August 17-21 included a panel discussion with the filmmakers and a streaming of documentaries and shorts by Lebanese producers.