70, President, High Point University
High Point University, B.A.
UNC Greensboro, Master’s
This man doesn’t quit. In September, he and wife, Mariana, broke ground for a $120 million arena, hotel and conference center bearing their names, one of 100 or so campus buildings added since he arrived in 2005. He also welcomed 1,500 new students, a record freshman class. The Lebanese transplant spends considerable time on projects including serving as a director at BB&T, La-Z-Boy and Great Harvest Bread Co., and co-chairman of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, while also leading downtown High Point’s revitalization.
What is North Carolina’s key challenge?
To attract more big industries to our megasites, create an abundance of jobs and show the world North Carolina’s “can-do” spirit. As co-chair of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, we work diligently every day to promote the Carolina Core region and leverage the collective force of our communities.
Share an insight about your community.
The city of High Point and the Triad region are entrepreneurial and innovative communities. As honorary chairman of the Wyndham PGA tournament, I marvel at the dedication and support so many provide to ensure the success and impact of this international event. As chairman of High Point’s Downtown Transformation Board, I’m blessed to see the major transformation taking place in center city, including a collaborative think tank for the furniture industry, a baseball stadium, a children’s museum, an events center and new furniture ventures. The stewardship and philanthropy of High Pointers continue to carry us forward.
What is something people don’t know about you?
I start my day at 4 every morning, drink some Turkish coffee, read and study, and then walk for an hour. Consequently, I’m in bed by 9 p.m.
Key 2018 accomplishment?
Raising $58 million in philanthropic funds for High Point’s downtown revitalization and securing an additional $50 million investment for apartments and a hotel. And, of course, announcing two more academic schools [engineering and undergraduate sciences] and several new buildings at High Point University.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
Leading a premier life-skills university and partnering with faculty and staff to prepare our graduates for the world as it is going to be. As a “God, family, and country” school, we nurture students toward a growth mindset and encourage them to invest one-third of their life in earning, one-third in learning and one-third in serving.