Memories of Dr. Ajwa

Professor Daniel McDonald

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I first met Dr. Iyad Ajwa through his role as chair of the faculty development committee. He seemed then to be a thorough, thoughtful colleague, capable of navigating the unique complexities of diverse faculty interests against a backdrop of limited resources.

Despite announcing policy changes that clearly did not please everyone in the room, there was no doubt the room respected his position and felt assured that if these were conclusions from a committee he chaired, they could be taken as the best outcome possible. That stayed with me.

Later, once I began serving as a department chair, I could always rely on Dr. Ajwa’s steady approach and true collaboration with curricula shared by both our departments.

In all these years of interaction, though, it wasn’t until he and I had the opportunity to research another joint program while spending time together in Montreal. It was there that we started sharing stories about our families – stories about how he and Nadia first met, and their subsequent courtship and marriage. It was both touching and fascinating at the same time.

His back was hurting him some so we took several walks through the old parts of the city, remarking on the architecture and such. I will forever be grateful for the extremely mild weather during our stay that allowed us to take these walks. We laughed about the fact that the late December temperature was warmer in Montreal than it was in Atlanta.

After that trip, I want to think we had a closer relationship. I can say that even with this augmented amitié, not once did I assume he was suffering, and surely not from anything as devastating as what ultimately claimed his life.

So many people at AU clearly knew Dr. Iyad Ajwa better than I did. They will have more personal stories of who he was and the legacy he leaves behind. All I know is that I am grateful to have known him to the extent that was possible. I regret that I didn’t know him better.

As I now realize what he must have been dealing with for the last several years, I am in awe. We sometimes meet people that inspire us to live fuller, more positive lives. Dr. Iyad Ajwa was one of those people. I will miss him terribly.

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