Navigate through the website that showcases people and pivotal moments marking AUB history from 1866 to 2016
Our 150th anniversary slogan is We Make History; we honor AUB History Makers through the ages
Stephen B.L. Penrose Jr.

Stephen B.L. Penrose Jr.

Palestinian Statehood Advocate and President
  • Great Scholars and Teachers
  • 1928
  • 1928-1931 as professor; 1948-1954 as president
  • Whitman College, BA; Columbia University, PhD 1934
Stephen B.L. Penrose Jr. taught physics at AUB from 1928 to 1931. He then returned to the United States and enrolled at Columbia University, earning a PhD in philosophy in 1934. Penrose taught briefly at Whitman and Rockford colleges then worked for the Near East College Association helping recruit and find funding for foreign universities. At that time he wrote That They May Have Life, which is a history of the University. During WWII he joined the Office of Strategic Services, living in Cairo and adding Arabic to his skills. He rose to be chief of Secret Intelligence. He became president of AUB 1948. Penrose traveled extensively for fundraising purposes as AUB was committed to substantial expansion. He died in his sleep while drafting a new constitution for the University. At the time of his death, Penrose was America's best-known advocate of Palestinian statehood. He worked tirelessly for better understanding between the Arab World and the United States. He graduated from Whitman College with a bachelor's degree, majoring in Greek and physics.
Zaki Nassif

Zaki Nassif

Pioneering Musician
  • Virtuoso Artists and Writers
  • 1941
  • AUB, BA Music 1941
Zaki Nassif studied music at the AUB Institute of Music from 1936 to 1941. He was one of the most important and prolific composers in the history of Lebanon, and contributed significantly to a mid-twenthieth-century cultural renaissance in the young nation. Important characteristics of his style include a novel use of harmony, and unique combinations among text and music, and folk dance influence. He left the world a rich musical heritage, which was the result of a new and uniquely Lebanese school of composition. In December 2004, the Zaki Nassif Music Program was instated at AUB, under the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and managed by an academic committee appointed by the dean.
Malcolm H. Kerr

Malcolm H. Kerr

AUB President and Middle East Scholar
  • Great Scholars and Teachers
  • 1984
  • 1959-1961 as professor; 1982-1984 as president
  • Princeton University, BA 1953; AUB, MA 1955; John Hopkins University, PhD 1958
Malcom Kerr was a scholar of Middle East and Arab history who led AUB as president for two years until his assassination. He spent many of his formative years in Lebanon at the American Community School, before returning to the United States and earning his undergraduate degree from Princeton and his doctoral degree from the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. After earning his doctorate in 1958, he returned to Lebanon and taught at AUB for three years. In 1959, he published his first book, "Lebanon in the Last Years of Feudalism." He subsequently did post-doctoral work under Albert Hourani at Oxford University. He went on to join the faculty of UCLA’s Political Science Department, and eventually rose to serve as dean of that university’s Division of Social Services. He became president of AUB in 1982, guiding the institution through two difficult years and becoming a well-known and like presence in the AUB community until his assassination.
John Wortabet

John Wortabet

Medical Doctor and Theologian
  • Pioneers in Health
  • 1867
  • 1871-1889 as professor of anatomy and physiology
  • American Board of Commissions and Foreign Ministers
John Wortabet was educated at the American Board of Commissions and Foreign Ministers. He preached in Habeiya, Syria, for several years, along with his wife and sister who taught girls. In 1860 Wortabet traveled to Edinburgh to study theology, and wrote "The Religions of Syria," widely considered a definitive work on the topic. He earned an MD from New York University, and combined his medical knowledge with his powerful command of Arabic to write an Arabic version of Grays Anatomy. Wortabet joined the Syrian Protestant College as a founder in 1867, adding his talent and energy to others who were building the medical school. He specified that he be treated and compensated as a European when he began at SPC--a request that had never been made before. Wortebet worked closely with fellow scholar and linguist Harvey Porter on and Arabic/English dictionary, which was much needed and appreciated. Wortabet was among the faculty who resigned their posts in support of Edwin Lewis over the Darwin Affair. He continued working as a doctor, though, and helped found The Lebanon Hospital for Mental Diseases at Asfuriyeh.
Robert Haldane West

Robert Haldane West

Preeminent Educator
  • Great Scholars and Teachers
  • 1866
  • 1884-1906 as professor of mathematics and astronomy and dean of the collegiate department
  • Princeton University
Robert Haldane West was born in Pennsylvania. Upon graduating from Princeton he traveled to Beirut to teach English at the Syrian Protestant College in 1883. He served in many positions during his brief time, not only teaching English, but math, moral philosophy and astronomy. He was treasurer, principal of the Preparatory Department and director of the observatory for a while. He was made dean of the Collegiate Department, later called Arts and Sciences, at an important time of redirection of academics. New emphasis on developing reasoning and independent thought and inquiry was nurtured to great approval. Above all West is remembered for his insight and kindness in working with students. It seems only appropriate that the center of student activity at AUB is named West Hall for him.
Yaqub Sarruf

Yaqub Sarruf

Pioneering Writer, Publisher, and Translator
  • Virtuoso Artists and Writers
  • 1870
  • SPC, BA 1870
Yaqub Sarruf was among the six men who first graduated from SPC in 1870. He continued his education with a PhD from Cambridge. Teaching at the College he founded a scientific journal, Al-Muqtataf, which over time became highly respected and influential. Sarruf was sympathetic to Edwin Lewis and those who supported Lewis’ ideas about the advancement of science. Lewis’ famous commencement address from 1882 was published in Al-Muqtataf. In 1884, although the College had established a position that Sarruf and fellow scholar Faris Nimr might take, but the offer was withdrawn. Leadership at the College disapproved of the thoughts championed by Lewis and his followers, and resisted promoting native scholars to professional rank. Sarruf left for Cairo to continue a successful career as a writer, publisher and translator. In 1890 Sarruf and Faris Nimr were offered two of SPC’s first honorary degrees, but declined to attend the ceremony.
George Edward Post

George Edward Post

Pioneering Medical Doctor
  • Pioneers in Health
  • 1866
  • University Medical College in New York, MD 1860
George Edwin Post trained as a doctor at the University Medical College in New York, earning his degree in 1860, following that one year later by ordination as a minister in 1861. For two years he served as a chaplain in the Union army, finally traveling to Syria in 1863 where he joined the other founders of Syrian Protestant College. Post was much more than an excellent doctor and teacher of medicine. He was an accomplished botanist and inspired architect, among other talents. He wrote widely of the flora of his adopted country, providing a reference that proved valuable for scores of years. Even more noteworthy is the writing he did on the plants of the Bible. He designed both the medical school building and drew plans for an archeological museum, which is named for him.
Calvin Plimpton

Calvin Plimpton

AUB President
  • University Founders and Leaders
  • 1960
  • 1960‒87 as professor of medicine, trustee, and president
  • Amherst College, BA 1939; Harvard University, MS 1947; Harvard University, MD 1943; Columbia University, DMedSc
Calvin Hastings Plimpton served as AUB’s tenth president from 1984-87. From 1957-59, he was professor of medicine and chairman of the AUB Department of Internal Medicine. He also served as associate dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, and as chief of staff of the Medical Center. From the New York Office, Plimpton guided the University through some of the most difficult years of the Lebanese civil war. He was president of Amherst College in Massachusetts from 1960-71, president of the Downstate Medical Center, State University of New York from 1971-79, and director of international programs at the National Institutes of Health from 1983-84. Plimpton served as a trustee of the World Peace Foundation, the University of Massachusetts, Phillips Exeter Academy, Long Island University and New York Law School. He was a director of the Commonwealth Fund and an overseer of Harvard. The recipient of honorary degrees from several universities including Williams, Wesleyan, and Amherst, Plimpton was also awarded Lebanon’s Order of Cedar Medal at Commander rank in 1959.
Edward Kennedy

Edward Kennedy

Mathematics Professor
  • Great Scholars and Teachers
  • 1946
  • 1946 to 1976 as professor of mathematics
  • Lafayette University, BS Electrical Engineering 1932; Lehigh University, PhD Mathematics 1939
Edward S. Kennedy was a professor of mathematics at AUB. Kennedy graduated with a BS in electrical engineering from Lafayette College in Easton in 1932 and completed a PhD in mathematics from Lehigh University in 1939. Since the focus of his research involved reading medieval manuscripts written in Arabic, in 1946 Kennedy accepted a professorship at AUB, in part with a mind to improve his knowledge of that language. He continued to teach in the AUB Mathematics Department for the next 35 years, retiring in 1976.
Jabr Dumit

Jabr Dumit

Arabic Language Professor
  • Great Scholars and Teachers
  • 1905
  • 1889-1923 as professor of Arabic language and literature
  • AUB, BA English 1976
Jabr Dumit served AUB from 1889 to 1923 as instructor, lecturer, professor of Arabic language and literature, and finally as professor emeritus. He was made adjust professor in 1985 and became the first Syrian to be made full professor under the non-voting classification when he was promoted in 1910. He was also head of the Arabic Department. He was a prolific writer and gifted teacher and played a vital role in the revival of Arabic literature and the uplifting of the Syrian people. He retired in 1922.
David Stuart Dodge

David Stuart Dodge

SPC Co-Founder and Theologian
  • University Founders and Leaders
  • 1871
  • 1871-1921 as professor of English and Latin and trustee
  • Yale University; Union Theological Seminary
David Stuart Dodge worked closely with Daniel Bliss to help found AUB's predecessor institution, the Syrian Protestant College. He attended Yale and also received ordination from Union Theological Seminary. He was inspired to join Daniel Bliss in establishing the Syrian Protestant College after hearing him make a speech in New York. Working closely with Daniel Bliss at various tasks, including teaching English and Latin, serving on the board of trustees for forty years, and monitoring workers as they labored on new buildings, Dodge was meticulous and devoted to the College. He invested energy in every new teacher, helping them to adjust and do their best. His gifts to the College have never been tabulated. In his quiet way he made numerous gifts of land and money to the growing school, as well as building Ada Dodge Hall, named for his daughter, and Mary Dodge Hall, named for his wife. He recieved an honorary doctorate from AUB in 1916.
Howard S. Bliss

Howard S. Bliss

AUB President
  • University Founders and Leaders
  • 1903
  • 1902-1920 as president of AUB
  • Amherst College; Union Theological Seminary
Howard Sweetzer Bliss was born in Souk-el-Gharb, Lebanon in 1860. Following in his father's footsteps, he graduated from Amherst College in 1882, then Union Theological Seminary. He returned to Beirut in 1902 when his father, Daniel Bliss, retired, and assumed the presidency of the Syrian Protestant College. He is remembered for his diplomatic efforts with his success at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 where he championed “self-determination for his beloved Syria,” as well as for the respect he earned from the Ottomans during WWI. His tireless effort to keep the SPC open and cope with the stressful deprivations caused by the war took a severe toll. He died at age 59 years. He is the author of "The Balkan War and Christian Work Among Moslems," International Review of Mission, 2, no. 4 (1913), Blackwell Publishing.
Ibrahim Dagher

Ibrahim Dagher

Pioneering Surgeon
  • Pioneers in Health
  • 1947
  • AUB, BA 1947; AUB, MD 1951
Ibrahim Dagher (1925-2014), best known for having performed the first open-heart surgery in the region in 1958 and the first total cardiopulmonary bypass in Lebanon—the fifth worldwide—in 1960, was among Lebanon’s and AUBMC's most prominent surgeons. Among his many achievements was the discovery of membrane oxygenators, which are used in cardiac surgery. After graduating with an MD from AUB in 1951, Dr. Dagher had five years of surgery training at the AUB Medical Center. He then headed two divisions in the Surgery Department. Dr. Dagher became the first AUB graduate to apply to, and the first to be accepted by, the American Board of Surgery. He traveled to the United States to complete his training in cardiothoracic surgery at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and worked at AUBMC from 1957 until he became honorary clinical professor of surgery in 1996 and later, emeritus professor of surgery. In recognition of his valuable contributions to the practice and study of medicine, a street in Ain Mreisseh, Ras Beirut, was named for him.
Constantin K. Zurayk

Constantin K. Zurayk

Influential Syrian Arab Intellectual
  • Great Scholars and Teachers
  • 1928
  • AUB, BA History 1928; University of Chicago, JD 1929; Princeton University, PhD 1930
Constantin Zurayk was a prominent and influential Syrian Arab intellectual who was one of the first to express the importance of Arab nationalism. Zurayk was the 1st Counselor to the Syrian Legation of the United States in 1945, and acted as the delegate to the UN Security Council and to the UN General Assembly in 1946. Zurayk taught history at AUB for decades, also serving as dean and acting president, while continuing his work as a writer on Arab culture and politics. He wrote nine major works as well as translating European and Arabic works on cultural history. An advocate of rationalism, scientific, and cultural progress, Zurayk was esteemed as a pioneer of Arab secular nationalism. Zurayk earned his JD from the University of Chicago in 1929 and his PhD from Princeton University in 1930.
Jane Elizabeth Van Zandt

Jane Elizabeth Van Zandt

Nursing School Founder
  • University Founders and Leaders
  • 1905
  • 1905-1941 as head of AUB's nursing program
  • New York Post Graduate Medical School
Trained for nursing at New York Post Graduate Medical School, Jane Elizabeth Van Zandt was recruited in New York City by David Stuart Dodge in 1905 to run a school of nursing for SPC. Traveling almost immediately, she along with Mary Bliss Dale, opened a school for nurses in October 1905. It was a small class, only three students, and Van Zandt used her own bedroom for the hands-on teaching she preferred. Part of the challenge they faced was convincing families that nursing was an honorable profession. As long as applicants had English and strong teeth, they were considered candidates. Van Zandt ran the nursing school for thirty-five years, working closely with Dale. They are often pictured together with the graduating nurses. In 1926 The Dale Home was opened, giving nurses a dignified home to use while they trained, and affirming the success of the nursing program.
Ghassan Tueni

Ghassan Tueni

Preeminent Lebanese Journalist, Politician, Statesman
  • Virtuoso Artists and Writers
  • 1945
  • AUB, BA 1945; Harvard University, MA 1947
Ghassan Tueni was a preeminent Lebanese journalist, politician, and statesman who was the editor of one of the Arab world's leading newspapers An-Nahar, which was founded by his father. He became a member of parliament in 1951, at age 25, and until 1977 served in several governmental positions, including house speaker, deputy prime minister, minister of social affairs, labor, industry, information, energy, and education. He also served as Lebanon's permanent representative to the United Nations from 1977-82. President of Balamand University from 1990-93 and co-founder of the Lebanese Academy of Law and Political Science, Tueni was widely considered to be the greatest Arab journalist of his age. He never failed to pay tribute to his AUB professors: Charles Malik, Costi Zurayk, Anis Makdisi, Albert Hourani, Assad Rustom, Zein Zein, Nicolas Ziadeh, and Roger Soltau.
Kamal Shair

Kamal Shair

Entrepreneur, Trustee
  • Leaders in Business
  • 1949
  • 1956-62, 1990-2008 as assistant professor of engineering sciences and trustee
  • AUB, BS 1949; University of Michigan, MS Engineering 1950; Yale University, PhD 1955
Kamal Shair, a native of Jordan, attended AUB for two years before transferring to the University of Michigan, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering. He returned to teach engineering from 1956-62. As a prominent entrepreneur, a frontline politician, diplomat, and philanthropist, Dr. Shair emerged from a modest background to play a leading role in the politics of Jordan, the Middle East, and the global economy. He set up Dar Al-Handasah (House of Engineers), a multinational corporate empire that engaged in trade, construction, and manufacturing. He served AUB as a trustee from 1990 until his death.
Hassib Sabbagh

Hassib Sabbagh

CCC Founder, Engineer, Philanthropist
  • Innovative Engineers and Scientists
  • 1941
  • AUB, BA General 1941
Builder, real estate developer, engineer, philanthropist, art collector, and citizen of the world, Hassib J. Sabbagh co-founded Consolidated Contractors Company International, one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East, and one of the top twenty contractors globally. He started the company in 1952 with his brother-in-law Said Khoury. Known as much for his integrity as for his business acumen, Sabbagh was a trusted advisor to President Jimmy Carter, and worked closely with him to advance the Palestinian peace process. He was a proponent of education and gave generously to financial aid programs for Palestinians. After the premature death of his wife Diana in 1978, Sabbagh established the Diana Tamari Sabbagh Foundation, and built and endowed AUB’s Diana Tamari Sabbagh Building for the basic sciences. Today the foundation supports the Middle East Medical Association lectureships, academic programs in the basic sciences, improvement of basic sciences curricula, annual workshops, and research.