LAU Byblos Salutes the Centennial Class of 2024

The university honors its newest graduates and reaffirms its commitment to educational excellence for the next century.

By Raissa Batakji

More than 800 new graduates on the Byblos campus joined the ranks of LAU’s 50,000+ alumni network.
LAU Provost George E. Nasr declared LAU’s commencement exercises—the 34th on the Byblos campus—open.
Reverend Rola Sleiman, pastor of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Tripoli, led the invocation.
Proud faculty, family members and friends joined the graduates in celebration.

The commencement exercises took on a special meaning this year as LAU marks 100 years of education, innovation and empowerment. The first of three ceremonies was held on the Byblos campus on June 11, honoring more than 800 new graduates who will join the ranks of the university’s 50,000+ alumni.

Asserting that “LAU has mastered the art of turning adversity into opportunity,” President Michel E. Mawad said to the graduates: “Just like your alma mater, you can be forever young at heart and always open to new ideas and keen on self-renewal.”


He further pledged that the university is stepping into its second century “strong, dynamic, experienced, immune, and ready for a different future of sustained excellence, service and discovery; of innovation and renewal; of results and impact.”

Imparting valuable advice, Dr. Mawad said: “Like your university, you can age without losing your flame of youth, mature but always keep your eyes on new beginnings, and face the future with the humility of the self-confident, the steadfastness of the strong-willed, and the determination of those who carefully plan their pathways.”

The university bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters upon HRH Princess Wijdan Bint Fawaz Al Hashemi (BA ’61), an artist, art historian, curator, academic and diplomat who served as ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to Italy between 2006 and 2011.

Jordanian Ambassador Walid Al Hadid received the degree on behalf of Princess Al Hashemi who was unable to attend the ceremony in person.


In a heartfelt message broadcast to attendees, Princess Al Hashemi painted a colorful picture of Beirut in the late 1950s and the early 1960s. Beirut College for Women—as LAU was known back then—she said, had been “an eye-opening place for self-discovery, where we studied heritage, culture, linguistics and history, and opened our minds to the most beautiful and the noblest of disciplines.”


Her studies at the college, she added, were the stepping stone to a master’s and a doctoral degree in Islamic Art from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

LAU also conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters upon Dr. Rabab Abdul-Kader Kreidieh Ward, a professor emerita in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and vice president–Educational Activities at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).


Earning a degree in engineering as a woman at a time when it was not socially acceptable was an uphill battle, said Dr. Ward. Acknowledging the multiple challenges that the graduates must have faced, she said: “You made it through hard work and talents you did not even imagine you had. Continue to nourish these talents and let the world reap the benefits of your talents and strengths.”

“Today,” added Dr. Ward, addressing the class of 2024, “you are not just graduates of this esteemed university, you are the architects of tomorrow, the innovators of the future, and the leaders of a new era of societal and technological advancement.”

Representing her classmates, nursing graduate and campus valedictorian Valeria Georges Nasr spoke about the lessons she had learned outside of the classrooms, serving across diverse healthcare settings and volunteering as a first responder with the Lebanese Red Cross.


“Whether you’re in the medical field and can relate to my experiences, or you make a difference in another way,” said Nasr, addressing her peers, “I hope you embrace the chance to smile at strangers, seize every opportunity life offers, and take the leap without fearing the fall. Never forget that you matter in this world, and your impact, no matter what it looks like, has the potential to make a change.”

Special awards were given at the ceremony to excelling graduates from the centennial class of 2024, with some receiving more than one award.


Campus valedictorians Valeria Nasr, Rassel Narch, Mohamad Al Merhabi, Rebecca Mansour, Sarah El Ali and Mohannad Akoum received the President Award for their outstanding leadership traits.

Nour Waizani, Adriana Sadek, Anna Jane Nazarian, Mark Al Skaff, Laetitia Merhi and Carina Joseph each received the Torch Award, in recognition of their spirit of service.

For exemplifying dedication and service to others, Rebecca Mansour also received the Rhoda Orme Award.

Based on her good academic standing and leadership skills, Carina Joseph was also given the Riyad Nassar Leadership Award, and Chanel Tohme earned the Charbel Khairallah Endowed Award, offered to a top engineering student in memory of the late engineering student Charbel Khairallah.

Christopher Soujah received the Sara Khatib Inspiration Award, granted to a student who sustains a positive attitude and has made an impact on others as a role model of courage, determination, endurance, and hope in the face of obstacles while maintaining high academic standards.