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The American University of Beirut - AUB

Early in the nineteenth century western missionaries began flowing into Lebanon, Catholics and Protestants, Americans and Europeans, men and women of religious orders, preaching the Christian faith, evangelizing, teaching, and spreading learning and culture in a receptive terrain.

The American University of Beirut, known simply as the AUB, was founded in the Lebanese capital in 1866 by American Protestant missionaries, notably Daniel Bliss, after whom the nearby street is named, and Henri Honis Jessup. The AUB is an independent university reputed for science, medicine and technology. Between 1870 and 2003, it awarded 66,107 degrees.

Et vous les Missions, qui rapportiez naguère
A nos pauvres hameaux l’Evangile et la Croix,
que notre apostolat au début de notre ère
Vous portait autrefois ;

And you the missionaries who once brought our poor hamlets the Gospel and the Cross that our apostolate gave you in early times.

Rappelez-vous comment, Lazaristes, Jésuites,
Maristes, Franciscains, Frères et Capucins,
comment nous, réclamions d’apprendre tout de suite,
Et d’apprendre sans fin.

Remember, you Lazarists, Jesuits, Marists Franciscans, Brothers and Capuchins, how we demand to learn with no delay and without any end.

Quel désir de savoir, quelle ardeur de connaître...
caractérise en nous même les paysans
qui surpassent parfois dans les arts et les lettres
leurs maîtres bienfaisants!...
What keenness to know, what ardor to learn... marks us, even our peasants, who sometimes surpass in the arts and in letters our beneficent masters...!

(La Montagne Inspirée by the poet Charles Corm)

In 1862 missionaries working in Lebanon and Syria asked Dr. Daniel Bliss to leave aside his Christian missionary work and to devote himself to founding a university for the training of medical doctors. As a result, the same year saw Dr. Bliss in the United States, where he collected USD 100,000.

In 1863 the State of New York granted him a charter for The Syrian Protestant University, which on December 3rd, 1868 opened with sixteen students.

The foundation stone for the central University Hall was laid on December 7th, 1871 by the Honorable William E. Senior. Dr. Bliss defined the basic principles of the University: “For all, without distinction of social class, color, nationality or religion. Any man, white, black or yellow, Christian, Jew, Muslim or atheist, may register and enjoy all the advantages of this establishment during three, four or eight years, and come out of it believing in God, in many gods, or in no god at all. But it is impossible for him to stay any length of time with us without knowing what we think and what are the reasons for our belief.”

The year 1867 saw the inauguration of the Faculty of Medicine, while November 1871 saw the founding of the Faculty of Pharmacy and of a preparatory school.

In 1873 the central building and the first building of the medical school were completed and in 1874 the first chimes rang out from the bell in the tower of the former.

1879 saw the erection of Marquand Hall and 1880 the founding of the School of Business.

In 1905 the present hospital was set up together with a school of nursing, while the dental school followed in 1910.

The AUB Campus covers about 180 acres on a height overlooking the sea. To this must be added some 620 acres attached to a farm in the Beqaa Valley housing a faculty of agriculture for crops and livestock.

In Bliss Street facing the AUB there is an abundance of restaurants which are much sought-after.

The violence of 1975, which some call a civil sectarian war but which others call a proxy war of outside influences, had tragic consequences for the AUB. In 1976, Dean Ghosn of the FEA was murdered on the steps of his faculty and Dean Njeimi died at the hands of the same assassin in an office of the Administration. The President of the AUB Dr. Malcolm Ken was murdered in 1984. In 1991 the central building was demolished by a bomb together with its famous clock tower, symbol of the University and already 125 years old. This was rebuilt and inaugurated in 1999.

In 2002 Charles Hodtier donated 11.7 million US dollars for the creation of a Sports Department which now bears his name. In 2003 Prince Al-Waleed ben Talal donated 5.5 million US dollars for a Research Center. In 2007 a building for the Business School was put up and named after Suleiman S. Olayan.

5.2 million US dollars were donated for the Issam Fares Institute for Public and International Affairs, which was inaugurated in 2014. Generous benefactors have been many.

The AUB now proposes to re-launch its programs in Arabic for Oriental Studies, Biology and Chemistry. Its department for Oriental Studies is considered one of the best in the world.

Buildings just opposite the University offer hundreds of small, well-equipped apartments and studios to provide accommodation for students. The University itself has many projects in mind to upgrade its capacities and its activities. Hundreds of scholarships are granted to enable students to pursue their studies in the USA. There is a fine library, together with archives and conference, concert and exhibition halls. In the beautifully kept Campus grounds with their thousands of trees one seems in another world, far removed from the Beirut just outside of concrete, glass, and iron all blanketed with pollution.

The Faculties of the Campus include the following: The Faculty of Agriculture and Nutritional Sciences, FAFS; The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, FLB; The Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, FEA; The Faculty of Health Sciences, FHS; The Faculty of Medicine, FM; The Suleiman S. Olayan School of Business, OSB.

The AUB is a major active contributor to the evolution and development of Lebanon and the Middle East, having formed thousands of key professionals in the Middle East and the whole Arab World, and being a source of enlightenment, culture and knowledge.

From manuscripts to printed books, from schools to universities, from Plato to the computer and all the techniques of civilization, Man has proceeded to the mastery of space, electronics, the internet, and much else. He finds himself master of the Universe with responsibility for constructing and improving, for a technique for a life of abundance and love, far removed from the world of destruction, hate, and death.
The AUB is a second Eden and a lighthouse for Lebanon.

Joseph Matar
Translation from the French: Kenneth Mortimer

- American University of Beirut 1: >> View Movie << (2014-07-01)
- American University of Beirut 2: >> View Movie << (2014-07-01)
- American University of Beirut 3: >> View Movie << (2014-07-01)

 

 


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