American University of Beirut

AUB Alumni Return to Campus for Reunion 2024

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Thursday, July 4, 2024

The 3,000 alumni, family, friends, and neighbors who gathered on and around the Green Oval on the AUB campus on June 27 and June 28 will long remember AUB Reunion 2024. “It was an amazing reunion,” said Associate Vice President for Development, Alumni Relations, and University Events Salma Oueida. “I am still hearing from people about how much they enjoyed the chance to be together with family and friends on the campus. I think during these challenging days, we all need these moments more than ever.”

Although the annual class reunion has become a signature event for many members of the AUB family, it is especially important for alumni celebrating their 25th, 50th, or more-than-55-year anniversary of their graduation from AUB. The members of these graduating classes are honored during a special ceremony in Assembly Hall, which also marks the beginning of the three-day alumni reunion celebration.

In her welcoming remarks during the Honoring Ceremony on June 27, 2024, Oueida spoke about the power of the AUB connection. “Regardless of the years that have passed, the spirit of AUB continues to resonate within us, guiding our paths and shaping our lives in profound ways,” she said. Oueida called on AUB alumni to not only honor the past, but to also “look to the future with hope and optimism. May we remain steadfast in our commitment to excellence, integrity, and service to others, embodying the principles instilled in us during our time at AUB,” she continued.

In his keynote address, President Fadlo R. Khuri spoke about recent events at the university, noting that it was “healthier than it's been in 50 years.” He pointed to the success of BOLDLY AUB: The Campaign to Lead, Innovate, and Serve, the fundraising campaign which AUB concluded on June 30, 2024, as one of the reasons for the health of the university. Khuri said that because of the funds that had been raised during the campaign, which he expected would exceed $800 million, “there is a higher percentage of students who are getting full support or getting financial aid at AUB than ever in our history.” Khuri also noted that the BOLDLY AUB campaign had been extraordinarily successful in mobilizing the global AUB family: more than 26,000 donors in 101 countries have made donations to the BOLDLY AUB campaign.

Khuri also spoke about the importance of AUB’s alumni community. “This is your university,” he said. “You own this university. Like the faculty and staff, you are partners in the development of the vision of this university… The future, the secret sauce of AUB, is the extraordinary attachment its alumni have to it. And for that, I say ‘thank you.’”

John Makhoul​ (BE Electrical Engineering ’64) was the speaker representing alumni celebrating their 55th and more-than-55-year graduation anniversary. As a member of the Class of 1964, he was also a participant in a very special 60th class reunion for the members of the Class of 1964. “Almost 20 of us from the Class of Engineering 1964 were able to arrange our own small mini reunion during Reunion 2024. We have stayed in touch over these many years and were happy to have a chance to get together again,” said Makhoul.

In his speech during the Honoring Ceremony on June 27, 2024, Makhoul spoke about the values that alumni share such as “integrity, openness to other ideas and belief systems, inclusion of others without the artificial limits often imposed by the society around us, respect for others even when we disagree, the exercise of freedom tempered by responsibility and civility, and the primacy of reason over demagoguery.” He urged alumni “to do all we can to ensure that this beacon of light and hope never fades.”

Speaking on behalf of the Class of 1974, Mounir Douaidy (BA Economics ’74) reflected on the “unwavering light” of AUB. “This institution continues to be a beacon of hope and excellence for future generations. Reflecting on our past, we recall how AUB's high academic standards and global accreditation guaranteed our transition to higher education anywhere in the world. Moreover, we discovered that AUB nurtured our personalities and sharpened our abilities to face real-life challenges,” he said.

Haya Imam (BBA ’99), who spoke on behalf of the Class of 1999 celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2024, observed that “AUB has changed me forever. AUB’s education, liberal arts and thinking, openness, diversity, tolerance, accepting the other, and civic responsibility expanded my knowledge and intellectual boundaries, and empowered me with everlasting skills that I find myself using every day,” she said. 

Sanaa Sharafeddin (BE ’99, ME ’01), who was among the many alumni celebrating their 25th class reunion, said, “I urge all alumni to make every effort to attend Reunion. It was energizing and inspiring to get together with former classmates and reconnect.” 

The two musical events that attracted large and enthusiastic audiences to the Green Oval were “Reunion Beats with Rodge” (on June 27) and a concert by Melhem Zein (on June 28). Rodge, who was especially popular among many of the younger members of the audience, got people on their feet from the first song. Many in the audience never sat down. In addition to music, there was also a light show on stage. 

The concert on June 28 was not the first appearance of Melhem Zein, also known as “Al Rayyes,” at AUB. He was part of the “Longest Dabke in the History of AUB,” which was organized on January 28, 2016, as part of AUB’s year-long 150th anniversary celebration. Instead of accepting a fee for his performance, Zein chose to use the funds to establish both a student award and scholarship at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Thuraya Baalbaki (BBA ’84), who attended both musical events, had a terrific time. “I could not have imagined that I would enjoy attending these events on the Green Oval so much. The music and the atmosphere were great. It was so much fun to be back on campus and to see old friends – and their families,” she said.

Many alumni and their families also signed up for a day tour of the Chouf cedars, a visit to Beiteddine Palace, and a traditional Lebanese lunch at Deir el Qamar on Saturday, June 29. “It was wonderful that the Alumni Relations Office organized this trip for us. It was a special day – even for alumni who had been to the Chouf many times before,” said Dr. Fadi Akoum (BS Biology ’95, MD ’99).

“Our annual reunion celebration on campus is magical for all of us,” commented Oueida. “It means so much to our alumni to be on campus and to have this chance to reconnect with each other and share memories. It means a lot to our university as well. Our alumni are the heart of AUB. Even with all the challenges our university and our community has faced in recent years, our alumni community remains strong.”​​

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