Lebanese American University


LAU in adversity: Always a step ahead

LAU is well on its way to recovery, despite disruption to its operations from a 33-day war on Lebanon and damage to one of its buildings at the Beirut campus.

LAU is well on its way to recovery, despite disruption to its operations from a 33-day war on Lebanon and damage to one of its buildings at the Beirut campus.

The University’s administration, led by President Joseph G. Jabbra, held the fort, stayed in Lebanon, and saw to it the institution would continue operating, at times albeit with a skeleton staff, to ensure the faculty and staff’s personal safety.

Summer Module I classes resumed August 31, 2006 and the university’s offices returned to regular summer-schedule operations August 21. The academic calendar was revised to accommodate Summer Module II, giving final-year students a chance to graduate on time. Fall classes are to begin October 16, 2006.

Students flocked to attend classes as soon as they resumed. Absences were minimal and mostly due to evacuated students not being able to secure flight reservations back to Beirut.

The Deans of Students on both campuses dropped in on students during classes, commending them for their courage and commitment to the pursuit of education and therefore of a better life.

Four days before the cease-fire, a scare from the shelling of an unused radio tower behind the new Business School Building and Riyad Nassar Library in Beirut did not deter staff members from carrying out their duties, although they did leave campus after the building sustained minor secondary damage.

When commuting to work became difficult due to bombed out bridges and crater-filled roads, top administrators held meetings via videoconference between the Beirut and Byblos campuses. Mercifully, telecommunications were not adversely affected and down time for computer servers were minimal.

Whether in Beirut or Byblos, Dr. Jabbra stayed the course in Lebanon and saw to it that LAU’s operations would not be hobbled by a war whose outcome nobody could predict.

Power cuts, fuel shortages and environmental disasters notwithstanding, the LAU family forged ahead with continued service to Lebanon’s community and beyond.

While classes were suspended during the heat of battle, popular programs such as the Summer Institute for Intensive Arabic Language & Culture continued for a brief while with administrators moving their visiting charges from Beirut to the relative safety of the Byblos campus from where they were eventually evacuated to their respective countries.

The SINARC students were grateful for the “resilience, thoughtfulness and care” accorded them by LAU officials and staff who arranged for their departure from Lebanon. Participants in the program, hailing from various U.S. cities, said they hoped to return to Lebanon when peace prevails.

Understandably, the recent conflict has had a major negative impact on daily life in the country. Institutions of higher education in Lebanon have their share of suffering, so supporting them becomes imperative to enable students to pursue their education under normal circumstances.

It is, therefore, imperative to continue providing support for LAU by donating to scholarships funds and other forms of unrestricted aid since students (old and new) will find themselves more in need of assistance given the latest turn of events.

In the academic year 2005–2006, over 6,200 students (4,500 undergraduates and 1,700 graduates) were enrolled at LAU’s two campuses in Beirut and Byblos. More than 2,500 of them applied for financial aid and the number is expected to rise.

LAU students come from all over Lebanon, including areas that witnessed fierce battles. This has resulted in a massive number of displaced people from various regions of the country.

Those students have been affected morally, physically and financially. Some students and their families have been directly affected through the loss of homes, businesses, jobs and loved ones. Many are in dire need of financial support to be able to complete their education.

LAU wishes to acknowledge assistance already provided by caring individuals in Lebanon. LAU faculty and staff helped in their personal capacities to alleviate the misery of those made homeless by the violent conflict.

Further afield, LAU alumni from the Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Amman and Kuwait Chapters participated in aid campaigns organized by relief organizations to help Lebanon’s displaced.

Truckloads of humanitarian and medical assistance managed to penetrate the land siege and reach Lebanon for distribution to the needy.

When time permits for reflection, the University will be judged on its performance, in keeping with President Jabbra’s call: “Excellence is our Passion, and LAU is our Pride.”


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