Giving to LAU


Fashioning a Brighter Future

As the erudite playwright Oscar Wilde once noted, “You can never be overdressed or overeducated.”

At LAU’s second annual fundraising gala dinner on March 16, the worlds of fashion and education came together seamlessly with the formal launching of the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Fashion Design in collaboration with Elie Saab.

The sold-out event drew over 900 people to BIEL, including an impressive constellation of Lebanese dignitaries, major donors and international celebrities. The extravaganza also marked the formal launch of LAU’s second major fundraising campaign, Fulfilling the Promise.

In his welcoming remarks, LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra thanked those in attendance, noting that LAU’s ascent from a small girl’s school to a major regional university had been made possible by the unwavering support of donors like them.

Such support has empowered LAU to grow into a formidable educational institution anchored by a commitment to serve the community. As part of that commitment, said Jabbra, LAU and internationally acclaimed fashion designer Elie Saab had joined hands to provide what is expected to become one of the region’s most highly sought-after academic degrees. The B.A. in Fashion Design will be spearheaded by Saab and taught in collaboration with reputable fashion schools in the United Kingdom. Merging fashion and the liberal arts, it is the first degree of its kind in the Middle East to be led by such a high-profile figure.

“Just as the first law school and the first Arab university were in Beirut, and because Beirut is always at the forefront of new disciplines, it is natural that the first academic fashion design program in the Arab world should be in Beirut too,” said guest of honor Elie Saab.

“The fact that this degree will carry my name is both a tremendous honor and a great responsibility,” he told the audience. “I will sign a degree when I myself never went to university. For that reason, I would love to open a door that was closed in my face for young people wishing to pursue careers in fashion.” Entry to the program is expected to be highly competitive.

LAU’s accomplishments in recent years have been a “dream come true,” said Jabbra, noting that the university’s 8,000 students in Beirut and Byblos will soon also have access to a third campus in the heart of New York City. The new mini-campus, to be inaugurated in September 2013, will provide students with an opportunity to study in the U.S. It will also allow American students to draw upon LAU’s unique expertise in Middle Eastern studies, Islamic banking, Arabic language and conflict resolution.

Closer to home, the University continues to grow, both in stature and in academic prowess, Jabbra noted. LAU continues to introduce new courses in response to emerging needs in the region, and to add highly qualified international professionals to its faculty. Fall 2013 will mark another achievement: The first class from the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing will graduate.

The generosity of LAU’s alumni and supporters has been crucial to every milestone in the University’s history, said Jabbra. Their faith in LAU revealed an “unshakeable commitment to the wellbeing and welfare of society, and an obligation to our beloved sons and daughters, who are our only beacon of hope in a region that is becoming more and more bereft of hope.”

The gala dinner, which was organized by a committee chaired by Jabbra, was hosted by media personality Joumana Bou Eid. Aileen Agopian, senior vice president and international senior specialist in contemporary art at Sotheby’s, flew in from the U.S. to preside over an exciting auction of antique and contemporary artwork. The evening raised over $1 million toward scholarships for needy and deserving students. Supporting the education of academically gifted student is a top priority for LAU: this academic year alone, the University has provided over $15 million in financial aid to 30 percent of its student body.

Critically acclaimed opera singer Tania Kassis delivered beautiful renditions of the Lebanese national anthem and LAU’s alma mater song, while Manal Mallat provided the evening’s entertainment. A short film outlining LAU’s vision for growth over the next few years was shown. As the evening drew to a close, guests were offered ELIE SAAB perfume.

The evening’s splendor was made possible through the generosity of the following friends: ELIE SAAB GROUP, Makhzoumi Foundation, Suad Husseini Juffali Foundation, Amal and Rima Hourani, Amer and Tania Hourani, George and Suha Farha, Wael Hourani, Salwa Said Khoury, Sotheby’s, Dar Al-Handasah Consultants (Shair & Partners), Sophie’s Choice, Mzaar Ski Resort and Mzaar 2000, AL MABANI General Contractors, Bank Audi, Khatib & Alami, Medgulf, Khayreddine El Jisr,  Dina El Jisr (DINA JSR), Safadi Foundation, IDM, Caretek, Jamal Trust Bank, and Aramex.

To apply to the Elie Saab Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design, visit: