The American University of Beirut (AUB) held a memorial to celebrate the memory of the late Maroun Semaan, a philanthropist, alumnus, trustee, and visionary partner of AUB, who inspired the region and beyond with his generosity and values.
During the BOLDLY AUB campaign launch last January, AUB announced the receiving of the biggest gift in the history of the Institution from no other than Maroun Semaan. Following his generosity, the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, from which Semaan graduated, now bears his name as the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture (SFEA).
During the memorial, which was attended by the family of the late Semaan, the Board of Trustees, President Fadlo Khuri, senior AUB staff, and friends and guests, Chairman of the AUB Board of Trustees Philip Khoury addressed the audience with details about Semaan’s achievements and philanthropic endeavors that will shape the Arab World and beyond.
“We owe it to Maroun – and to his family, to his career path, and to his transformative philanthropy -- that we continue the hard work that is required to fulfill his vision for how to make this university truly excellent, truly a world-class research university, and truly a beacon of light for all who have the privilege of studying and working at and for AUB,” said Chairman Khoury.
Trustee Nabil Habayeb, longtime friend of the late Semaan, shared his heartfelt and moving words mourning his late companion. “I say a role model because Maroun was the ultimate role model to Principles my father advised me to follow on my first day of work,” said Trustee Habayeb. “He said: ‘Keep your name clean and make a difference. For when you leave this world, the only thing you take with you is your name, and the only thing that people will remember you with is the difference you have made in life. Maroun has touched the hearts, the minds, and the feelings of everyone who knew him or heard of him.”
Through a pre-recorded video, Semaan’s business partner and close friend Trustee Ayman Asfari also shared part of their journey.
“In the late 80s I had the idea to start Petrofac International, and I thought of Maroun as my business partner,” said Trustee Asfari. “Our dream was to create a world-class business, which we have accomplished. Maroun was my companion, best friend, and business partner throughout the journey, and together we made the dream a reality. Maroun exemplified the values of the business, and my utmost respect is for his competence and his passion. Maroun was not only an exceptional business leader, he was a great human being.”
In his genuine eulogy to the late Semaan, President Fadlo Khuri spoke of Semaan’s qualities and ethics, and the friendship they shared.
“Maroun was a wonderful trustee, businessman, and leader, but more than that, he was an imaginative and firm supporter of a better tomorrow for all of Lebanon and the Arab world,” said President Khuri. “Alas, we will never know what this great man could have accomplished had he not been struck down by this dread disease in his prime as a leader. But in the kernels of what he aspired to create and what he has so far inspired, lies hope for a major path forward for AUB, hope for Lebanon, and for the Arab world. And thus, sleep well, my humble and generous friend. I am convinced that the legacy of Maroun Semaan will pass into history, and will endure with the ages.”
President Khuri then invited Chairman Philip Khoury to present the University Medal to Semaan.
Addressing Semaan’s wife and daughter, and the audience, President Khuri said: “Tania and Nour, it is my honor and privilege, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees and the State of New York, to award our friend and dearly departed student, alumnus, trustee and philanthropist, Mr. Maroun Semaan, the University Medal, which he has most definitely earned for his courage, generosity, leadership, and belief in his fellow man.”
Concluding was Maroun Semaan’s eldest daughter, Nour Semaan, who thanked the attendees and shared some of her father’s stories and memories.
“I am truly lost for words to express my feelings and those of my immediate family,” said Semaan. “You all, Maroun’s extended family, have not held back in expressing the love, respect, and admiration of my father. Much has been said about Maroun Semaan as of late, and all have reciprocated his love and appreciation, independent of sect, ideology, or circumstance. We have been overwhelmed by everyone's affection and all I can say here is: Thank You, Thank You.”