Innovation was the theme of LAU’s sixth-annual Fundraising Gala Dinner, gathering more than 700 supporters and friends at Seaside Pavilion in Beirut on December 14. Entitled “Leading with Innovation,” the event focused on the university’s unique capabilities and strategic plans to help ensure students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to become the region’s next entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators.
LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra took to the stage to welcome guests and explain the importance of innovation in a labor market that is quickly changing, making the university’s role in preparing its students more significant than ever.
“Business as usual is no longer an option for institutions of higher education, and certainly that has not been an option for LAU. That is because the 21st century belongs to the innovators,” explained Jabbra. “Education is no longer sufficient. It is necessary, but innovation is absolutely essential.”
The event also celebrated the university’s supporters, many of whom were in attendance, including business leaders, politicians, philanthropists, community members, faculty, staff and alumni who have given generously to LAU. In fact, the university’s family of donors raised $16.6 million in fiscal year 2017, which will go toward scholarships and endowments, capital projects, grants, research, school activities, and more.
Addressing the audience, Jabbra said, “This is a night to give credit to those who deserve credit. And it is you who have made sure that LAU became a powerhouse in higher education. It is you who have made sure that LAU became the best servant of the community, and in particular the best servant of young people.”
Innovation was present throughout the function, from music by composer and bandleader Guy Manoukian, to wall-to-wall digital screens. The audience was also treated to a documentary on LAU’s innovative curriculum, facilities, programming and research projects, as well as inspiring student and graduate inventions.
“Every year is extremely special, but this year we planned for months to incorporate the important theme of innovation, and to ensure that it touches every part of the gala-dinner experience by bringing in experts and our respected gala-dinner committee, who made this magical event happen,” said Nassib N. Nasr, assistant vice president for Development at LAU.
In line with the evening’s focus on raising funds for LAU’s journey toward its strategic goals, a $1.5 million gift was announced from Talal Shair, chairman and CEO of Dar Al-Handasah. The contribution will support the School of Engineering’s recently constructed six-floor Engineering Laboratories and Research Center, which houses state-of-the art facilities for faculty and students.
LAU began holding its annual Fundraising Gala Dinner in Beirut in 2012. The inaugural gala raised an impressive $7.5 million, and successive events have had admirable fundraising results, all in support of the Gala Dinner Endowed Scholarship Fund, which provides support to deserving students who might otherwise not have an opportunity to gain a university education.
To view photos and videos from the 2017 Gala Dinner, please click here.