International Colleges and Universities


AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT

In the fall of 2008, the Pappas Consulting Group Inc. conducted a feasibility study to determine whether expansion of the University's existing graduate/professional school student loan program to undergraduates in the Arts and Sciences and Professional Schools was advisable.

The President of the University and the Board of Trustees concluded that the expansion of the University's Financial Aid offerings would enable it to realize its strategic objective of diversifying its student body from a regional as well as a socioeconomic perspective.

The Pappas Consulting Group was subsequently engaged to report on the establishment of a proposed OPIC Guaranteed Loan Program for the American University of Beirut (AUB). We undertook a deliberate project workplan to ensure that an OPIC guaranty would enable AUB to accomplish its objective to increase the flow of available financial aid to a diverse array of academically qualified student applicants without imposing an unreasonable financial burden on students, parents and extended families. To that end, the Pappas Consulting Group Inc. engaged in initial document and data gathering. We worked with the Vice President for Finance and others to collect and analyze: current financial aid policies, procedures, and processes; financial aid loan practices currently in place at the University and the nature of their funding; agreements with local Lebanese banks dictating student loan repayment; the number of students receiving financial aid (e.g., scholarships, loans, grants, stipends, work-study) by school and discipline at both the undergraduate and graduate level over a ten year time horizon, and so on.

We then formulated a series of interview guides and focus group questionnaires in order to ask a consistent set of questions so as to identify quickly common themes. In addition, we met with the President twice and interviewed each of the Deans and the Vice Presidents, the Internal Auditor, selected Directors in Admission/Financial Aid, the Registrar, and Assistant Vice Presidents, as well as a number of members of the Vice President for Finance staff. While in Lebanon, the Pappas Group and the Vice President for Finance conducted interviews with five banks to determine their interest in participating in an expanded student loan program that would include all the faculties of the University at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

We visited OPIC personnel in their offices in Washington, D.C. prior to our on-site visit to AUB and conducted bi-weekly calls with OPIC personnel, the Pappas Consulting Team and the Vice President for Finance to keep OPIC apprised of our progress.

We continue to assist the American University of Beirut (AUB) as it strives to strengthen its tuition pricing strategies and financial aid programs. As part of our previous due diligence work for the OPIC loan application, the Pappas Consulting Group Inc. reviewed AUB's student services policies, procedures, systems, and organizational structure. Based on our work to date and recent discussions with AUB leadership, we have identified four areas that need to be strengthened in order to execute the tuition strategies, expand financial aid services, and prepare for the requirements of the OPIC Loan Guarantee Program.

LEBANESE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY

The President and Board of Lebanese American University (with campuses in Byblos and Beirut) engaged the Pappas Consulting Group to facilitate a strategic planning process and craft a plan in six months. This timeframe was dictated by the President's commitment to secure its first accreditation by a United States agency, NEASC. Throughout this process, we worked with NEASC's Higher Education Commission and coordinated our efforts with those of Harvard Medical International who had been engaged to conduct a medical school feasibility study on behalf of the University. The strategic and operating ramifications of the Medical School are an integral part of the University Strategic Plan.

Strategic Planning

The strategic planning effort the President initiated was a new experience for the institution and its constituents. Further, the President's years of successful, hands-on strategic planning experience helped shape his expectations of the conduct of a methodical and intentional process at LAU.

The President's objective was to complete a financially sound and meticulously articulated strategic plan that incorporated thoughtful decision making and action for presentation and approval to the Board of Trustees. Among the priorities to be addressed were:

  • Academic excellence
  • Enrollment management
  • Governance
  • Public relations/marketing
  • Development
  • Finances

The planning process started in February 2005 and was completed in July 2005. The LAU Board unanimously approved the Plan in September 2005. The plan has been implemented and is being monitored on a quarterly basis. A new Dean of the Medical School was named a year ago, the University has just enrolled its first Medical School class and has purchased a hospital in Beirut.

In follow-up to the successful process and outcomes of the strategic planning project, the Pappas Consulting Group was selected to provide additional consulting services with respect to implementing two key aspects of the Strategic Plan Action Steps. These follow-on activities are described next.

NEASC Accreditation

Lebanese American University is in the final stage of securing accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Achieving NEASC accreditation is a major component of the University's five-year strategic plan.

While the accreditation self-study necessarily had to be completed by University personnel, the University asked the Pappas Consulting Group to work with the University's self-study leadership to set in motion appropriate worksteps to obtain the required University input. Meetings were conducted with each of the twelve self-study teams to assess and advise on accreditation-related processes and work steps. A number of consistent themes emerged from these discussions. We then provided a number of key recommendations for further institutional action. During the NEASC Visiting Team's exit interview in Byblos, positive feedback was provided the institution concerning its possible accreditation. The strategic plan was cited as one of the "best" by the Visiting Team's Chair.

Human Resources

Within the adopted Strategic Plan, a key component was the redesign and enhancement of the human resources functions within the University. LAU subsequently requested that we: provide an analysis of the University's human resource organizational structure and processing environment; review the compensation and classification structures, policies and strategies that will guide the human resource function for LAU personnel; and conduct a performance management diagnostic.

The analysis was conducted in parallel for both the Beirut and Byblos campuses. Upon completion of the detailed analysis of the current processes, we developed recommended changes that impacted the roles and responsibilities of the two existing human resource offices as well as personnel in the various academic and administrative units of the campuses. We also recommended an appropriate organizational structure for providing human resource services to the University. The new structure reflects the new roles and responsibilities as required under the redesigned processes and services of the Department, as well as enhanced efficiencies in providing services within and across the two campus locations. A new compensation and classification system along with a new performance management system was recommended as well.