The Beirut Centennial Class of 2024 Celebrated With a Superb Send-Off

LAU lights up in jubilation and signals sustainable excellence in education for the next 100 years.

By Raissa Batakji

The commencement ceremonies on the Beirut campus carried a tribute to the university’s enduring spirit and 100 years of excellence in education.
In his opening remarks, LAU Provost George E. Nasr commended the centennial class on its determination, strength and resilience.
Reverend Suheil Saoud, pastor of the National Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Beirut, led the invocation on June 14.
On June 15, President of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon Reverend George Murad led the invocation.
The 1,174 graduates from the School of Architecture and Design, the School of Arts and Sciences and the Adnan Kassar School of Business embodied their alma mater’s enduring spirit.

Following a memorable ceremony on the Byblos campus, the LAU Beirut campus honored its centennial class over two ceremonies on June 14 and 15. The commencement exercises carried a tribute to LAU’s 100 years and a celebration of its enduring spirit as it looks to the future.

The 1,174 graduates from the School of Architecture and Design, the School of Arts and Sciences and the Adnan Kassar School of Business embodied this spirit as their university years were marked by trying times in the country.

The valedictorian speaker on June 14, biology graduate Lynn Abbas, summed up this rite of passage perfectly, describing how “we first met our classmates on glitching screens in the fall of 2020,” following a summer of uncertainty, filled with goodbyes to those who emigrated.


“Something profound kept us here: hope,” she pointed out, adding: “We yearned to explore our homeland during a new stage of our lives—one where we had a driver’s license and could travel around Lebanon’s hidden beauties, with friends from different regions and backgrounds, with whom we could celebrate our shared history and traditions.”

Abbas called upon her classmates to “recall the LAU community that shaped us not only into competent and professional graduates but more importantly adaptable, open-minded and compassionate individuals.”

Touching on the university’s long history of perseverance, LAU President Michel E. Mawad urged the graduates to “go forward and take the world by storm, turn challenges into opportunities, problems into prospects, and bleak circumstances into an ecosystem for success.”


As LAU “sails into a new century with our legacy intact and our future beckoning,” declared the president, “a distinguished past is about to pass the torch to a vibrant future.”

In a heartfelt tribute to the LAU family, valedictorian speaker on June 15 Stephanie Baz expressed her gratitude for the sense of continuity the university provided. “LAU is not a place we enter and leave after getting a degree—it became a part of us and we made friendships that will last a lifetime,” she said.


Baz also asked her fellow graduates to think about Lebanon and how they can contribute to its betterment, whether they leave or stay, “because you are its future. Never turn your back on your country,” she said.

The recipient of the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at the June 14 ceremony, Mr. Henri Zoghaib, is a shining example of a poet and writer who has shown unmatched dedication to Lebanon. He is the founder and director of the Center for Lebanese Heritage at LAU, which for the past 22 years has been a point of reference for translating the country’s rich repertoire of seminal literature, hosting numerous local and international conferences and publishing Mirrors of Heritage, a bi-annual refereed journal.


In his address, Mr. Zoghaib pledged to stay true to his mission of “elevating Lebanon’s cultural heritage and keeping the memory of the Lebanese creatives, innovators and inspirational artists alive.”

On June 15, LAU also conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters upon Mrs. Manal Boukzam Saab, the chief executive officer of Sorenson Gross Construction Services in Flint, Michigan, and an active member of philanthropic institutions dedicated to promoting education, the Arab American heritage and empowering communities in the US and Lebanon. 


In her address, Mrs. Saab drew on her own experience to inspire the graduates. Learning from one’s mistakes, using disadvantages as openings for improvement, and defying the seemingly impossible were the focus of her message.

“Life has no remote control and it is up to you to change the course of history,” she said, encouraging the graduates to “set a new definition for success, one that is not measured by wealth but rather by your impact on society and your community that I hope will be vast.”

Special awards were given at the ceremony to excelling graduates from the centennial class of 2024.

Mahabba El Sahili, Tamara Nasr and Adam Mashlab each received the President Award for their outstanding leadership traits.

Zahraa Zibara, Yasmine Koleilat and Karen Khalife each received the Torch Award, in recognition of their spirit of service.

For exemplifying dedication and service to others, Sara El Turk received the Rhoda Orme Award.

Based on his good academic standing and leadership skills, Roy Ghadban was given the Riyad Nassar Leadership Award, and Tamer Saleh earned the General Mahmoud Tay Abou Dargham Award, for excelling in sports and demonstrating leadership.