LAU hosts ceremony to publicly launch its Seat and Bench Naming Campaign

“Take a bench or a seat, leave a legacy”. Such was the simple yet noble message that echoed across Irwin Hall on Thursday, July 8th during a ceremony held to mark the official launch of LAUs Seat and Bench naming campaign.

The LAU Seat and Bench Naming initiative represents the latest stage in the university’s Campaign for Excellence, an endeavour which aims to attract donations to the university in order to further its mission: commitment to academic excellence.

Campaigning for excellence

A dynamic venture geared towards meeting LAUs ambitious visions, the Campaign for Excellence is ensuring LAUs rapid development by directing funding to specific areas, namely securing financial aid, offering merit scholarships, building new facilities and developing new programmes.

The effects of such contributions are already visible: the new Medical School is on the verge of being inaugurated, Byblos campus has blossomed into a vibrant centre of learning, and more LAU students than ever are receiving financial aid, some one-third of the student population.

Yet such accomplishments are only a fraction of what remains to be done. Future investments at LAU will be directed to attracting and retaining world-class faculty by offering more competitive salaries, increasing the number of graduate and research assistance-ships, building a new library on the Byblos campus and renovating LAUs classic buildings, such as Sage Hall.

Unlocking donor potential

In an effort to open up new avenues for contribution, the Seat and Bench Naming Campaign offers LAU alumni, faculty and staff the opportunity of naming a seat in Irwin Hall Auditorium in Beirut or Selina Korban Auditorium in Byblos for a donation of $500 or naming a bench on either the Beirut or the Byblos campuses for a donation of $5,000.

The campaign was launched silently at the end of 2009, when a select number of potential donors were contacted in order to gauge interest in the project. In nine months, almost 100 people chose to participate in the campaign and an amount exceeding $125,000 has been raised.

Samir Kadi, Assistant Vice-President for Development at LAU, described the response as “promising” and said that it inspired the Development Office to take the campaign public.

Around 200 people, including contributors, their families, members of President and Retirees circles, alumni chapters and LAU staff, attended the event that was held on Beirut campus this July to mark the official launch of the Seat and Bench naming campaign.

After a welcome address by Kadi and a short film highlighting LAUs achievements and growth over the past century, LAU President Joseph Jabbra spoke passionately about the pivotal role played by the wider LAU community in sustaining the university’s path to success.

“No institution of higher education,” said Jabbra, “can sustain itself, let alone aspire to excellence, without the support of the community”. Such support, said Jabbra, can only be maintained if the mission of the institution is one which resonates with the community and wider society.

“Our mission is yours. Your aspirations are ours. And we work together in order to make our community a better community, Lebanon a better country, the region a better region, and of course, the world a better place for us, for our kids, for future generations.”

Jabbra also expressed his deep gratitude to those who had already contributed to the campaign by reaffirming their places at the heart of LAU: “Thank you for coming together tonight to celebrate [your] generosity with the institution, because you are part of this institution.”

Stories of giving

Following a short ceremony in which contributors were invited onto the stage individually to receive a certificate commending their donation, all guests were invited outside to the campus gardens to enjoy a buffet reception. The warm summer evening provided the ideal backdrop for the alumni who contributed to the Seat and Bench Campaign to socialise, reminisce, and share the stories behind their donations.

Souad Hoss, who graduated from LAU in 1951 (when it was still Beirut College for Women) with a degree in Social Work and Child Psychology, still remembers her years at the university with fondness. It is such affection, alongside a commitment to helping future students, that encouraged her to contribute to the campaign.

“I feel that we need to invest in education, it is really a great help for all these young students,” notes Hoss. “I like to contribute, to keep the college alive, to keep it going, and we alumni are very proud”

Nicole Maamari Barghoud, Assistant Director of Development at LAU and a contributor towards this campaign said: “It is the duty of every person to contribute in any way he can to institutions that help the advancement of our future generations. This donation is a token of appreciation for the institution that opened its door for me to learn, develop myself and reach where I am today. Every gift makes a difference in the lives of many including yours.”

Some contributors chose to name the bench or seat in honour of loved ones. Former student and part-time faculty member Hanan Arnous, for example, named 2 seats in the Irwin Hall Auditorium after her parents, Mr. Nadim and Mrs. Najwa Arnous, as a means of thanking them for having financially supported her during her studies.

Another donor, Azmi Horoub, was attending the ceremony on behalf of his wife Amal, who graduated from LAU in 1963 with a degree in English Literature. The couple’s motivation for naming a seat was moving. “Our daughter died two years ago from cancer,” explains Horoub, “so we put this in her memory.”

“I personally enjoyed this event as much as I enjoyed cultivating and soliciting for it. People were so happy as they saw their names and those of their loved ones on the actual seats and benches after the ceremony. No matter how eager for the idea they were when they opted to participate in this campaign, their enthusiasm and excitement was way multiplied when this became tangible, when they saw the actual plaques, and took photos of it,” said Lana Abou Teen, Assistant Director of Development, who also named a seat after her in Irwin Hall Auditorium.

Eyes on the horizon

A common thread that runs in the hearts of all those who contributed to the LAU Seat and Bench campaign is a sense of loyalty to the institution that gave them so much and a commitment to offering future generations of students similar opportunities.

This sentiment was poignantly captured in a few words uttered by Jabbra during the ceremony: “It is very important for you, donors, prospective donors, to have faith in what we do. And we promise you whatever gifts you make to this institution, those gifts will multiply in the successes of our students.”

If you would like to know more about the Seat and Bench Campaign, kindly visit the following link : http://seat-bench.lau.edu.lb/

To see more pictures of the Seat and Bench Campaign event please click on : http://campaign.lau.edu.lb/news/seat-bench-slideshow.php


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