Alumni Homecoming 2019

LAU honors two outstanding alumni and welcomes back more than 1,200 for homecoming week.

By Raissa Batakji

O by Michel Fadel teemed with LAU alumni.
Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations Abdallah Al Khal addressing the crowd at the dinner.
Alumnus and co-founder of Anghami Elie Habib received the Alumni Achievement Award from Dr. Jabbra and AVP Al Khal.
Recipient of the Alumni Recognition Award Wissam Moukahal with Dr. Jabbra and AVP Al Khal.
Class of 2009 reunite in Byblos.
Alumni reunited on Beirut campus.
Where were we in 1979?
Secretary of the EMBA Group Chapter Dina Nasser receives her 10th anniversary graduation pin from Dr. Jabbra.

Over the second week of July, more than 1,200 LAU alumni flocked back to their campuses, danced and dined together with their mentors, reminiscing, and celebrating their graduation anniversaries.

LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra was overjoyed in welcoming alumni back to their second home. “LAU is a unique brand and our alumni are the best ambassadors and supporters of our institution because of their emotive attachment to LAU,” he declared, visibly passionate about announcing the launch of the Alum 500 campaign, through which many alumni will be donating to support financial aid. “You are becoming a vibrant force in the life of LAU, and important stakeholders in the advancement of the university,” he said, pointing to the successful strides made to bolster the curriculum in line with the university’s Third Strategic Plan (SPIII).

Speaking at the annual alumni dinner, Assistant Vice President for Alumni Relations Abdallah Al Khal declared that the event had three purposes: “One is to have a great time, two is to thank the committee members of chapters for the wonderful volunteer work that they have done for LAU in Lebanon and around the world, and three is to take pride in ourselves as graduates of this university through honoring two of our own.”

Nominated by peers and selected by a committee with representatives from Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, the Alumni Association and the Alumni Relations Office, two outstanding Alumni were honored this year: Wissam Moukahal (BS ’95) and Elie Habib (BS  ’94).

Most recently at the helm of leading Australian financial group Macquarie Capital, and currently in transition to a new professional challenge, Moukahal has given generously toward the education of young Lebanese in general, and to LAUers in particular. Through the Z. Mouhakal Foundation, he established a scholarship program for deserving students at the Adnan Kassar School of Business (AKSOB).  In honor of his generosity to his alma mater and country, the committee selected him for the Alumni Recognition Award.

“LAU is beyond an educational institution – it has given me an opportunity to seek a better life,” declared Moukahal in an emotional speech, giving a shout-out to his LAU friends who have been by his side for 27 years – including at that very event. “I thought my relationship with my alma mater was finished, but then LAU gave me the opportunity to be part of its bigger success story by accepting my modest strategic partnership,” he said in reference to his Z. Moukahal Foundation Scholarship, which not only covers part of the students’ fees but also extends to offer further counseling and mentoring. In fact, Moukahal has been personally mentoring a student at LAU every year.

The Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes an alumna or alumnus for their significant accomplishments in business or professional life, was granted this year to Elie Habib, co-founder of Anghami, the leading music streaming service in the Middle East.

“Roughly 25 years ago I graduated from LAU with a vision – I was never an employee and always had a passion to build,” Habib declared. Reflecting on his LAU days, he remembered his professors’ encouragements to create software – something he has not stopped doing since. “Now that Anghami has reached over 80 million users, my hope is for us and other tech companies to grow more out of Lebanon,” he announced, pointing to his faith in Lebanese youth and their potential to be innovative “beyond the tug of war.”

In separate commentaries, alumni representing the different chapters were outspoken about the different ways one could give back to one’s alma mater.

President of the Beirut Chapter Bashir Sakka (BS ’90) gave an example of how maintaining presence on campus could go a long way. “I used to bring my daughter with me to campus events and alumni reunions, so she witnessed first-hand this close, family-like connection we have here,” he said, pointing to how she went on to choose the university for her BA, and most recently, embarking on yet another LAU journey by enrolling in the MA in Multimedia Journalism program.

For Head of the Accounting Department at Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) and Secretary of the EMBA Group Chapter Dina Nasser (EMBA ’09), expanding the network of EMBA alumni is vital. “Through our professional backgrounds, we are working closely with AKSOB leaders to spread more awareness of the program among graduates, while fundraising for LAU,” said Nasser, noting that the chapter is also preparing to host a lecture at the school.

The Alumni Homecoming is one of the many initiatives taken by the Alumni Relations Office to stay in touch with and reunite its alumni worldwide.