The American University of Beirut announced the passing of prominent trustee and alumnus Maroun Semaan Tuesday. Faculty and students from the Maroun Semaan Faculty of Engineering and Architecture gathered on the campus to pay tribute to Semaan’s memory.
“Maroun was a genuinely great and humble man, whose work and whose impact will resonate through the ages,” AUB President Fadlo Khuri said at the short ceremony.
Semaan also served as a trustee for the American University of Sharjah (AUS), who said on Wednesday that it was mourning the death of their long-time supporter and former trustee, who they described as a great friend of the AUS since its inception.
“He was inducted as a member of the AUS Board of Trustees in 2005 and, for a decade, contributed greatly in charting out the course that helped the university grow from strength to strength over the years,” said Dr Bjorn Kjerfve, AUS chancellor, in a message sent to the AUS community on behalf of the AUS Board of Trustees.
“For many of us whose lives he touched so deeply with his kindness, intelligence, modesty and generosity of spirit, he leaves behind a void well-nigh impossible to fill,” chancellor Kjerfve said. He also prayed that the Almighty grant Semaan’s soul eternal peace and give his family the strength to bear this irreparable loss.
In 2017, Mr. Semaan was behind the largest single financial donation in AUB's history, given to the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, which was subsequently renamed after him.
Semaan, who graduated from AUB in 1977 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Mechanical Engineering, was elected a trustee of his alma mater in 2013. After graduating, Semaan moved to the Gulf where he held several positions within the energy, infrastructure and civic works sectors. In 1991, he joined Petrofac, a small company that he helped to transform into an international oil and gas powerhouse.
Semaan retired from Petrofac in 2013 to focus on entrepreneurial endeavors in renewable energy, telecommunications and real estate.
“The university today mourns the loss of its student, alumnus, trustee, role model and philanthropist Maroun Semaan,” AUB Board Chair Philip Khoury said in the AUB statement Tuesday. “Fittingly, his legacy will endure through the ages, as generations of engineers and architects will graduate from the school that he did, and which now most fittingly bears his name.”
He established the Semaan Foundation in 2011 to provide support in the fields of education, hospitalization and social welfare throughout the Middle East. His foundation also donated a large sum to the AUB Medical Center. The Outpatient Surgery Center was renamed after Semaan’s parents.
Earlier this year, during the launch of “Boldly AUB: The Campaign to Lead, Innovate and Serve,” Semaan’s daughter Nour spoke on her father’s behalf.
“He always wondered how someone with means could rest his head on his pillow while a neighbor of his, near or far, is unable to make ends meet,” she said.
“His primary objective is providing a suitable environment for students and seekers of knowledge,” Nour continued. “His ambition is to ensure the availability of medical care, and to encourage development projects wherever there is need, as his contribution in lighting a candle in the darkness of the Middle East.”