Dear friends of LAU,
It gives me great pleasure to bring to you the annual report for the academic year 2021-2022, a year that had an auspicious start with the return of our faculty, staff and students to campus.
As vaccination campaigns somewhat contained the pandemic, we were delighted to welcome our students back to in-person learning, albeit under strict safety measures.
Our work to ensure the survival and sustainability of the university under harsh economic and geopolitical circumstances in the country, however, was not done. The threat of faculty and staff attrition remained, as did the financial strain on our students and patients at our medical centers, calling for new strategies and more vigorous fundraising.
At my inauguration as the ninth president of this hallowed institution, I decided to launch the Solidarity Fund - in addition to the ongoing Emergency Financial Aid Fund and the Talent Retention and Attraction Fund - to help support financially challenged students and patients.
At the same time, as we were compelled to shift to a dollar-based fee structure to cover our dollarized expenditures, we raised our Financial Aid budget to $100 million. We intensified our fundraising campaigns overseas and regionally, and in September held a successful fundraising gala in New York with the generous assistance of members of our board of trustees and their wives.
Aiming to secure a revenue stream in fresh cash, we also implemented our university without borders strategy, which involves giving our New York Academic Center a degree-granting status and establishing a new campus in Baghdad, so that the funds generated abroad may be invested in sustaining the university that will remain firmly anchored in Lebanon.
To achieve this and ensure the wellbeing of our community, we welcomed two new members to our team. Dr. Elie Badr was appointed as vice president for business development and global affairs, tasked with developing strategies and integrated execution plans, and Dr. Tony G. Zreik as vice president for health affairs, in charge of promoting LAU values of patient-centered care, respect, compassion, integrity and accountability in healthcare.
The outcomes of the concerted efforts exerted by our administration, faculty, physicians, staff, students, alumni and donors, indeed our entire stalwart community, are nothing short of astounding. Despite the many hardships, as this document will show, there were successes institution-wide and at all levels.
Among other rankings, LAU placed at No. 1 in Lebanon and in the 101-200 bracket worldwide on two UN Sustainable Development Goals indicators in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022, and at No. 1 in teaching and international outlook and No. 2 overall nationally in the 2022 Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings. Research witnessed an upward trend, and LAU faculty members ranked once again among the top 2 percent scientists worldwide.
Fulfilling our promise to hold in-person commencements for students who had graduated during the pandemic, we celebrated the graduation of the classes of 2020, 2021 along with 2022 in a record five ceremonies in one week. The commencements were also a golden opportunity to confer our Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters in person on two distinguished individuals who are household names in the arts and medicine: Pianist and composer Abdel Rahman El Basha, and renowned cardiologist Dr. William A. Zoghbi.
As the obstacles mounted this year, we tried to live up to our conviction that together we would prevail. In the end, as this annual report will show, we prevailed indeed.
Michel E. Mawad, M.D.