LAU Legacy Scholarship Gala
Making A Meaningful Difference
Gala glamour at its finest
Nijad Fares smiles as he helps raising funds at the gala
Raising funds and spirits with Thomas Abraham
Dr. Michel Mawad and Sheikha Intisar AlSabah
Gala Committee Co-Chairs Micheline Nader and Zeina Fares
Mona Abou Hamzeh
New York City Mayor Eric Adams
Wael Arakji, Manal Saab, and Guy Manoukian
Wael Arakji and Dr. Michel Mawad
The Lebanese American University (LAU) held its annual benefit gala at the Pierre Hotel on September 15, 2023. The event was a big success, bringing people together in the heart of New York City to support the amazing work happening at LAU. This fundraising tradition helps give deserving students access to a world-class American education in Lebanon regardless of socioeconomic hurdles. Over the past three years, $200 million in financial aid was disbursed, helping 85% of the 8,200 students pursue their education.
Over 250 guests attended the event, including alumni, friends, and trustees of LAU. Also present were New York City Mayor Eric Adams, the Permanent Representative of Kuwait to the United Nations Tareq Albanai, the Consul General of the State of Kuwait in New York Azzam Alasfoor; Lebanon's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Abdallah Bou Habib, Lebanon's Acting Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York Jean Murad, and award-winning TV presenter Mona Abou Hamzeh, who received the Excellence in Journalism award during the glamorous gala.
"The diaspora, of which many of you are a part, is Lebanon's gift to humanity", said Philip Stoltzfus, Chairman of LAU's Board of Trustees. The diaspora is a big supporter of LAU, ensuring that students and faculty are equipped to make a positive impact on the world. It also allows the university to continue its comprehensive academic excellence, enabling students to become leaders in an astonishingly broad array of fields while also providing merit scholarships and need-based financial aid to students.
Dr. Michel E. Mawad, who assumed the presidency of LAU in October 2020, is transforming LAU into a university without borders of truly international stature. He is embarking on a path of strategic resilience, ensuring LAU's financial sustainability while expanding its presence internationally, increasing its healthcare contributions in Lebanon, and ensuring that LAU's standards of excellence are maintained. Mawad appealed for help on behalf of LAU saying, "LAU is an institution that proudly embraces a dual identity of American and Lebanese."
The live appeal for support was led by the renowned Brooklyn-based charity auctioneer CK Swett, who has visited LAU last March and immediately fell in love with the campus and the culture.
Gala Committee Co-Chairs Zeina Fares and Micheline Nader thanked guests for their presence and contributions. "Chairing a gala event to raise funds for Lebanese students and providing them with access to higher education is a wonderful way to make a positive impact," said Zeina Fares. "By opening doors for these students, we are giving them opportunities to succeed, and our efforts will undoubtedly have a lasting effect on their lives," added Micheline Nader.
During the evening, two honorees received the Sarah Huntington Smith Award. The first was presented to philanthropist, entrepreneur, and author H.H. Sheikha Intisar Alsabah. The Kuwaiti princess and former LAU trustee has worked for many years on promoting peace through her Intisar Foundation and promoting healing through psychological support and drama therapy to Arab women traumatized by war and violence. She also promotes women's self-empowerment and education through her non-profit organizations Alnowair and Bareec. In addition to making significant contributions to LAU's financial aid fund, she has opened internship opportunities for students at the Intisar Foundation. "I am so honored and proud to be here receiving this award," said Alsabah. "I promise you we will continue and increase our efforts to support all the students at LAU."
Basketball player and LAU business graduate Wael Arakji also received the award on behalf of the Lebanese National Basketball team that reached the final at the FIBA Asia Cup 2022, losing to Australia by only one point. The team includes three other LAU graduates: Elie Chamoun, Ali Mansour, and Karim Zeinoun. The team's incredible performance on the global stage in the wake of traumatic events in Lebanon mirrored the strength of character and determination the Lebanese people are capable of. "Tonight, I want to inspire and stand next to and behind the next generation in Lebanon," said Arakji. "I want them to know that regardless of where they start, with hard work and dedication, they can aspire to greatness."
The event was emceed by Sara Shouhayib Alawar, daughter of Lebanese immigrants and the founder and owner of Capital Emcee.
The evening concluded with live entertainment by the award-winning and internationally renowned Lebanese-Armenian composer and pianist Guy Manoukian, whose performances and oriental melodies are cherished by people all over the world.
The Lebanese American University is a private, not-for-profit institution of higher education in Lebanon. It was founded in 1924 as a women's college that traced its origins to one of the first schools for girls in the Ottoman Empire, initiated by pioneering Presbyterian missionary Sarah I. Smith in the 1830s. LAU now operates two campuses in the cities of Beirut and Byblos, serving undergraduate, graduate and doctoral/professional practice students across 58 degree programs.