Nimr Eid: 43 Years of Devotion to OSB

October 25, 2010 by Sami Moacdieh
ALIGN - Suliman S. Olayan School of Business

Great institutions are only as worthwhile as the people that lead them. Dr. Nimr Eid, who devoted 43 years to a life of teaching and service at AUB, is undoubtedly one such individual. Dr. Eid began his AUB career as a freshman student in 1955; he received his Bachelor’s in Business Administration in 1959, and then his MBA in 1961. Immediately upon graduating, he was offered a teaching position as an instructor of accounting and marketing in the Department Of Business Administration, which at that time was still a part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Back then, the rule was ‘two years and you’re out;’ they didn’t want to encourage instructors to stay.” After two years of teaching at AUB, Dr. Eid earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin (USA) in 1966, with concentrations in finance and accounting.

Dr. Eid then returned to AUB as an assistant professor, where he spent the next 43 years, from 1966 through 2009, as a professor, researcher, and consultant. Dr. Eid has published two books: one on the legal aspects of marketing in Lebanon and Kuwait, funded by the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA); and the other about the marketing process in Lebanon. He has also published more than a dozen articles in regional and international journals. In his spare time, Dr. Eid enjoys reading business books and magazines, spending quality time with his family and grandchildren, and listening to music. "Beethoven, Strauss, any soft music, but definitely not the loud modern music of today! I also enjoy walking, for 30 minutes to one hour a day; I hate the traffic in Lebanon. I live in Ras Beirut, and used to walk every day to my office, even during the war." Dr. Eid served as chairman of the Department of Business Administration from 1970 to 1973. In 1976, he submitted a proposal to the president of AUB and the dean of the FAS to convert the Department of Business into a proper School of Business. This was achieved in 1978, but the business school still remained under the umbrella of FAS. Finally, at the turn of the century, and under the leadership of Dean George Najjar, it became its own independent faculty.

Dr. Eid and Dean Najjar have both been heavily involved in consulting for teaching programs abroad; the pair co-developed the curricula of the University of Bahrain and the American University of Sharjah. Once a month, and for 20 years, Dr. Eid traveled to Bahrain to oversee the progress of University of Bahrain. Furthermore, Dr. Eid also served as the Dean of the College of Commerce and Business Administration at Dhofar University in Oman. Dr. Eid and Dean Najjar have, since 1978, collaborated on a number of projects, including consulting and management training in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, and Oman.

One of Dr. Eid’s most significant decisions he ever made was that of hiring George Najjar in 1977. Dean Salem asked Dr. Eid to interview Dr. Najjar, and immediately afterwards Dr. Najjar joined the faculty as an assistant professor. "This decision has really added a tremendous amount of value to the department; Dean Najjar’s contribution to AUB is really beyond imagination. He is a dynamic and proactive person who takes initiative, and is always a step ahead of others."

One particular experience that remains vividly ingrained in Dr. Eid’s memory is when he almost single-handedly ran the Department of Business during the Lebanese civil war. Dr. Eid recalls how many foreign AUB faculty members were forced to leave, as were a large number of AUB students in 1977. Dr. Eid wrote up to 6 letters of recommendation each day for students traveling abroad to continue their education. “We were threatened by students belonging to different militias. As the director, I was personally threatened. You can’t confront them head-on; you have to resort to diplomacy. It was a very difficult period.” Business education had to continue, and so courses were given off campus on the east side of Beirut. "We had a really tough time running these programs, but we managed to go on, and we didn’t stop. We never stopped. There were rumors that AUB would close down and go to Cyprus, but thankfully, those rumors never materialized."

Concerning the age-old comparison between students of the past to students of today, Dr. Eid feels that past students were more serious in their studies. Current ones, however, are more cultured, broad-minded, have traveled more, and have more life experience. “In the past, students used to come, learn, leave, study, and then come back the following day. Now, there are tons of extra-curricular activities going on that keep modern students busy.” When asked about the impact of today’s technological advances, Dr. Eid laughed as he remembered how, as a student in the 1950s, all students were required to take written and oral examinations, as well as a course in type-writing. One major factor to new students’ advantage though, says Dr. Eid, is the new OSB building. "It’s just fascinating, like being in a first class college in the US. All of this should be attributed to Dean Najjar’s efforts. Also, getting AACSB accreditation in such a short period of time was only possible due to his hard work and monumental efforts. Being what it is now, students should be proud of being at OSB; business education at AUB is more than 100 years old, and now an autonomous independent school."

"When I was director, we were only 12 faculty members. Look at the rate of expansion. This is a dynamic institution, contributing to the development of Lebanon, as well as the Middle East region. Wherever you go in the Gulf, when you mention AUB, people look up to you. We should be proud. Whenever I travel in the Middle East, I see AUB graduates I taught. They stop you, whether at the airport or on the plane or on the street, and tell you how much you influenced their lives and careers. This, for me, is extremely rewarding, and highly appreciated. AUB is an institution that can outlast all unfavorable events; the two world wars, the civil war in Lebanon. Even during those times, AUB continued to prosper. I have complete faith in the future and development of AUB. It’s amazing how far it has advanced; the Hostler Center, the new OSB building, the upcoming engineering building…. AUB is a living institution and will continue to remain so. Come 100 years later, AUB will still be here, successful and prosperous. I have tremendous confidence that such an institution, with such leadership at its helm, will never die. I have complete confidence in its future."