Accepted! That’s what every student can’t wait to hear. All that hard work in high school, all the standardized admissions tests and the interviews with school administrators culminates in opening the door to the new and exciting world of possibility that is higher education.
Embarking upon the university experience is a seminal moment in anyone’s life. It propels them into a journey that can lead to a nearly endless array of possibilities. As with any institution of higher learning, students choose to attend Lebanese American University for an education of both study and experience and, as many of you well know, what they receive at LAU is often second-to-none. They entrust LAU to open doors, advocate on behalf of their best interests, and ensure that no stone is left unturned where there is potential to improve their chance for success, not to mention the ability to make a positive contribution to the world.
But what if a deserving student doesn’t have the financial means to obtain the education and experience that LAU can provide? As President Joseph Jabbra has often said, the university has an obligation to offer an education to all qualified students, regardless of their economic status. This tenet is central to LAU’s identity and an obligation and duty that it believes cannot be shirked.
When LAU’s New York office inaugurated its Yalla! campaign during the fall of 2010, and reprised it a year later, the goal was two-fold: it was looking to engage and energize the university’s alumni across the North American continent, letting them know that LAU remains a vibrant and relevant aspect of their lives despite the fact that the campuses are situated half a world away in Lebanon. And the university wanted to raise funds that would directly fulfill its duty of helping deserving young people attend LAU, succeed and thrive at the university, and continue the tradition further.
Thanks to Yalla!, 20 deserving students have received scholarships to help them attend LAU so far. Studying in fields such as economics and accounting as well as biology and education, these students have shined during their time at the university—young leaders who will undoubtedly have the opportunity to achieve great things. Their dreams may not have been realized had it not been for Yalla! and all of those who have supported it over the last two years and continue to support it today.
While countless LAU alumni and friends have come together in the United States and Canada, both in person and online, since the university’s first Yalla! event back in Tampa, Fla. on November 6, 2010 (see sidebar for more information about Yalla!), the spirit of Yalla! continues on whether events are happening or not. More importantly, however, is the legacy of Yalla!—the students who are receiving an excellent education at LAU today because of it. With more Yalla! events scheduled for this coming fall LAU’s supporters will be able to open the door to opportunities for even more young people in the future.
In late March President Jabbra, along with his fellow university presidents, Peter Dorman of the American University of Beirut (AUB) and Lisa Anderson of the American University in Cairo (AUC), traveled to Capitol Hill in Washington, DC for meetings with members of Congress and officials at the U.S. Departments of State and Education.
The Association of American International Colleges and Universities (AAICU), a leadership organization representing American institutions of higher education overseas, is currently headed by Jabbra. With the assistance of Jay Ghazal, LAU’s government relations consultant in Washington, the contingent of presidents made their case for the increased importance of American higher education in the changing Middle East.
“It is vitally important for legislators and government officials in the United States to understand that AAICU institutions are American universities and colleges in every way possible,” said Jabbra. “The work that we do helps to represent the best of what America has to offer—the gold standard of higher education—all over the world and we want to make sure that we are heard.”
The presidents met with Sen. Patrick Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as other members of Congress who hold pivotal seats on relevant committees. The team also met with Tamra Halmrast-Sanchez, the new director of USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program, an important funder of many American institution operating abroad, as well as Jon C. Brause, Deputy Assistant Administrator with the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, another key agency for AAICU colleges and universities.
“The importance of getting to Washington and making the case for the work that our institutions are doing in the Middle East to these key individuals cannot be overstated,” said Ghazal. “It means a lot to be able to sit with important members of Congress and the government and let them know face-to-face how vital our work is.”
Founded in 1971, AAICU member institutions educate thousands of students across Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and also offer opportunities for American students to receive valuable cross-cultural experiences through education abroad. Like LAU, all AAICU institutions have strong roots in their respective host countries and typically enjoy wide recognition around the world.
For more information about AAICU visit www.aaicu.org
In March, LAU’s Southern California Alumni Chapter, in conjunction with Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles, hosted the photographic exhibit “Veil(s)” which was produced by LAU’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW). A panel discussion titled “Veil(s): Perception(s) and Misperception(s)” which featured LMU faculty members Feryal Cherif, Amir Hussain, Nancy Jabbra and Rana Sharif, took place on March 14. The “Veil(s)” exhibit is now on its way to the San Diego Public Library and will open there on June 3.
Check out more more of our recent events here.
Thanks to recent upgrades, supporters of LAU can now make recurring donations through the university’s website.
Associate Director of Marketing Karina Rodriguez, former Assistant Director of Development Paula Place and others at LAU, collaborated to produce a recurring gifts system that aims to improve the way in which donors can provide support to the university.
With the proliferation of broadband internet in recent years, and the ubiquitous role that the internet seems to play in so many people’s lives today, it was inevitable that instances of online giving would continue to grow. A recent study conducted by Blackbaud, the leading global provider of software and services designed specifically for nonprofit organizations, and the supplier of LAU’s own database management system, indicates that online giving grew by 35 percent in 2010. And there is every indication that the numbers will continue to grow sharply in the years to come.
“About 30 percent of our gifts now come to us online,” said Amal Abdel Massih, LAU’s Director of Advancement Services. “That is a significant increase for us over just a few years ago.”
The idea to enable recurring gifts was simply an extension of this trend, and a way to make it easier for supporters of LAU to provide gifts in a way that makes sense to them personally.
Donors can decide to give their gifts on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis; and they can decide if they’d like their gift to be ongoing or to end after one year. As with any gift, donors can direct how they would like their gift to be used. From contributing to student scholarships, to helping sustain one of LAU’s seven schools, supporters have a lot of options when it comes to where their gift will go. Or they can simply indicate specifically what they would like their gift to be used for.
“This is a natural progression for us,” LAU’s Vice President for University Advancement Richard Rumsey said. “And it’s a win/win situation: we make it easier, more convenient and less of a burden for our supporters from around the world to provide their support to us, and we open the door to more contributions.
To learn more about how you can help, visit http://campaign.lau.edu.lb/ways_to_give/
Q: Where do you live and what do you do?
A: I currently divide my time between Houston and New York City. My background is in environmental sciences with a bachelor’s degree from the American University of Beirut and a master’s degree from the University of Texas. I have an environmental consulting firm, Terra Nova Consulting, Inc., that specializes in sustainable environmental projects.
Q: How did you become involved with LAU?
A: I met President Jabbra a few years back and I was quite impressed with his enthusiasm and love for the university. I realized right away that we share a common passion: education. I strongly believe that building nations always starts with a commitment to education. And as I learned more about LAU, I appreciated the important role this university is playing in molding the young men and women on campus today to be the leaders of tomorrow.
Q: You’ve worked very closely on LAU’s New York galas in 2010 and 2011. Can you tell us how and why you became involved?
A: I was approached by a very good friend who happens to be a trustee of LAU, Bill Jordan, who asked me to chair the first LAU gala in New York City in 2010. It was a great honor for me as I have become quite fond of LAU and what it stands for. Being involved in the 2010 and 2011 galas was my way of advocating the importance of education, particularly in the Middle East, and encouraging everyone to continue to expand their indispensable support so that LAU may continue its valuable mission in the region.