Thursday, January 28, 2016

AUB and the colonial mission

From a comrade: "I was thinking yesterday about AUB and Cecil Rhodes. Rhodes sought to create a ruling AngloSaxon elite through his Rhodes scholars program (It is the one scholarship I strictly forbade my daughter to apply to regardless of her qualifications). In the same vein, AUB sought to create a US friendly Arab elite. The Israeli project and the political upheavals that followed its creation forestalled such an outcome. After the 1990s, there was no need for AUB to create such an elite as the Arab regimes (Gulf, Egypt) and their allied political classes directly connected with the West. So what role for AUB in the new millennium? I would think that it will be selling itself more as a know-how center and less as an elite forming one. The professional schools will play an even more important role in that regard, given that both Syria and Iraq have been devastated by wars. The Cancer Center at AUBMC is crowded mainly with Iraqi and Syrian patients, then the Lebanese. The choice of future presidents of AUB is to be taken within those considerations. He is less likely be a scholar of Islam or a philosopher, and more likely be a physician, an engineer or a business man (less likely woman). The current new President is a decent translational clinical scientist, and a safe choice as the son of a previous Dean of the Medical school (father) and a mathematics faculty member (mother). He will not rock the boat, and he will stabilize the institution. It will not have the excitement of AUB of the 1950s and 60s, but then that institution is gone and will not come back. Can AUB compete say with Bilgi University in Istanbul? Can AUB produce a 21st century Arab elite? You know the answer. But taken in another context, the question is, if AUB were to truly reinvent itself, what form would it take? Which of the potential AUBs is the one that would make a long term difference? That I do not know. "