Meeting Change with InnovationMore in this issue
The newly established LAU Fouad Makhzoumi Innovation Center helps to bolster creativity and entrepreneurship.
Fostering a culture of innovation and revolutionizing the mode of education delivery has been at the forefront of LAU’s mission as a means of empowering students in an increasingly competitive market.
To that end, and in addition to revamping its curricula, the university has established the LAU Fouad Makhzoumi Innovation Center, following a generous donation by Dr. Fouad Makhzoumi in 2016.
The center was inaugurated on Beirut campus earlier this year in a ceremony attended by the Minister of National Defense Elias Bou Saab – representing President Michel Aoun – Dr. Fouad Makhzoumi and his wife May, LAU President Joseph G. Jabbra, members of parliament, ministers, ambassadors, and LAU leadership, alumni, friends, and students.
“We live in a world where the only constant is change and more of it, and the only way to successfully meet change is through innovation and creativity,” Dr. Jabbra said in his address. “Hence, the idea of establishing an innovation center at LAU with two major arms: one arm is the academic, and the other the entrepreneurial.”
Students should be taught to create their own jobs, added Dr. Jabbra, in anticipation of the shift in the workplace and the elimination of jobs in various fields as a result of technological advancement.
Reinforcing Dr. Jabbra’s message from a businessman’s perspective, Dr. Makhzoumi spoke at length about the importance of revolutionizing the university’s curricula and placing innovation and creativity at its center in order to give Lebanese students the edge.
While education is important, he said, “I worry about the students’ attitude and their knowledge of data; can they deal with the change that we are experiencing every day? If they can, then they will be proper managers.”
A main concern for Lebanon, he continued, was the need to discourage our youth from emigrating, by equipping them with the right tools to face changes that are imminent.
The center will focus on initiating training programs, competitions, ideation sessions, and hackathons, among others, that will target LAU students, staff, and alumni, and the community at large, explained Assistant to the President for Special Projects Saad El Zein. It will also serve as an incubator that seeds innovative ideas and prepares them for acceleration and start-ups.
This focus forms part of the “development needed by LAU to become a hub of creativity and innovation to sustain a vibrant learning environment whereby the entire university body becomes a community of learners” – as set out in Pillar Two of LAU’s Third Strategic Plan (SPIII).
“Innovation is an essential 21st-century skill needed for success at work in a global economy impacted by the fourth industrial revolution,” remarked Provost George Nasr. “Accordingly, students need to develop an innovative mindset that includes creativity, critical thinking, flexibility, and complex problem solving.”
The LAU Fouad Makhzoumi Innovation Center is the latest among many contributions by the Makhzoumis, who have steadily supported the university’s mission and offered guidance to LAU students through internships at their foundation.