Pop Goes AUB
At the age of 140, AUB embraces the modern.
With the mushrooming of American universities and colleges in the region, AUB is cleverly projecting its true value through the global personalities it chose to bestow honorary doctorates on, and its liberalism and modernism through a Zaha Hadid building and a Coca Cola Chair.
Indeed, amidst the traditional buildings of the American University of Beirut will rise a structure that is bold and post modern.
Zaha Hadid, the world famous Iraqi architect and once an AUB student, won the competition to design the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs.
A day earlier the AUB announced that the Coca Cola foundation donated US$2 million to "strengthen the school's academic programs and promote the study of the field of marketing through teaching, research, and service".
The new Hadid designed building and the establishment of the Coca-Cola Chair in Markeing give the AUB an Andy Warhol pop aura.
Although cynics might say that the money would be better spent on human capital rather than on high maintenance buildings, AUB will remain a leader and a beacon of free-thinking and high quality education, unrivalled not only in Lebanon but also in the Middle East.