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Remembering great AUBites we lost in 2016
1/3/2017
Martin Asser and Dana Abed  |  Office of Communications and Office of Advancement  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 
Amid the AUB community's 150th anniversary celebrations in 2016, it was also a year in which some of our most distinguished and highly-respected members were lost. Here we look back at some of those who made the most impact who passed away in 2016.

AUB alumnus and Arab nationalist, Ambassador Clovis Maksoud died peacefully at the age of 90 on May 15. He was born in the US to a Lebanese family in 1926, and joined AUB when he turned 18 to study political science and economics. During his years at AUB, Maksoud was influenced by intellect and pan-Arab idealistic Professor Constantine Zurayk.

During Maksoud's long career he wore several different hats, but excelled in all. As a diplomat, he began as Ambassador of the Arab League to India and Southeast Asia, and served as the league's special envoy to the US during the October war of 1973. In 1979, he was elevated to the post of League ambassador to the US and United Nations.

He was also a prolific and distinguished journalist, serving as senior editor of Al-Ahram, at the time the Arab world's most influential newspaper, from 1967–1979. He also contributed many articles and books on the Middle East and the global south, among them: "The Meaning of Non Alignment", "The Crisis of the Arab Left", "Reflections on Afro-Asianism", and "The Arab Image".

Dr. Clovis Maksoud was a longtime friend of AUB and his life was commemorated at a moving ceremony in Assembly Hall on December 12. One of the speakers, his brother-in-law Dr. Oussama Salam, noted how the date of his death, the day that the Palestinian Nakba was commemorated, was a reminder of how much of the work Clovis had undertaken was still to be completed.

Dr. George Salem picked up the theme, “Maksoud never gave up… He knew very well that the causes of the peoples cannot be covered within a political summit or annulled through a diplomatic one; he knew it was a journey of hard work, persistence, and struggle. And he worked hard, persisted, and struggled."

World renowned

There were shockwaves around the world when the news came of the death of renowned architect and former AUB student Dame Zaha Hadid at the age of 65 on March 31. The Iraqi-born Hadid started her higher education at AUB as a student in the department of mathematics, then moved to London to study architecture at the Architectural Association (AA) School of Architecture.

She is known worldwide for her radical designs and her theoretical, built, and academic work. She received many awards including the Pritzker Architecture Prize (considered the Nobel Prize of architecture), the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the RIBA Stirling Prize in successive years, 2010 and 2011.

Hadid's relationship with AUB was not limited to her time as a student; she was an honorary degree recipient in 2006 and her design was selected for the new Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, completed in 2014. Although not universally admired on campus as a building, the challenging design won the prestigious 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture, announced seven months after Hadid's passing.

In a special tribute to Hadid in the Spring/Summer edition of MainGate fellow students remembered her as a charismatic and amiable figure around campus. Rima Hamadeh wrote, “she always had a beautiful smile and radiated positive ideas and energy… When she made it, she never forgot those who knew her from the start. She proved to the whole world that we as Arabs have talent and our contribution to civilization at large continues."

On July 22, the world lost another figure of inspiration to many, Dr. Thomas Sutherland, who served as Dean of Agricultural and Food Sciences from 1983 until his abduction by militants in 1985. He was held hostage for more than six years, the second longest of the western hostages held during the Lebanese civil war after Terry Anderson.

During his captivity he taught his fellow hostages to speak French, and although he didn't have a pen or anything to write on, he taught fellow hostage Anderson agriculture courses during their time together.

Sutherland was released under a deal brokered by the United Nations on November 18, 1991 and returned to his home in Fort Collins, Colorado. He was subsequently hailed as a hero for his courage and magnanimity.

Sutherland refused to let his experience negatively affect his life and career; he became a speaker and an advocate for peace, as well as for agriculture as a tool to relieve hunger and suffering. He was considered by many to be a hero and a standard bearer of tolerance and mutual respect.

In 2001, the Sutherland family won substantial damages from Iran, receiving tens of millions of dollars from frozen Iranian assets in the US. Mr. Sutherland is reported to have given much of the money he received to charity.

Pioneers

AUB Honorary Doctorate recipient Professor Ahmad Zewail died in Pasadena, California, at the age of 70 on August 2.

Dr. Zewail was the first Arab to win a Nobel Prize in Science in 1999 for his breakthrough research on the transition states of chemical reactions over very short time scales (femtochemistry). He brought renewed focus on scientific research in the Arab world through his significant contributions that became universally recognized.

Zewail was a Science Adviser to President Barack Obama who appointed him to the Council of Advisers on Science and Technology in 2009. He was also Linus Pauling Professor of Chemistry and Director of the Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology at Caltech. He joined the United Nations Scientific Advisory Board in 2013.

Dr. Zewail is remembered for having a deep commitment to advancing science in the Arab world and a passionate devotion to continuous scientific research and a relentless desire to excel.

Described as one of the fathers of anesthesiology in Lebanon and the Arab world, longtime colleague and friend of the University Professor Emeritus Anis Baraka passed away on July 1.

Dr. Baraka started as an instructor at AUB in 1965 and rose to become Professor and Chairman of the Department of Anesthesiology for more than 30 years (1976 – 2007), before he was appointed as Professor Emeritus.

Aside from his career as an academic, Dr. Baraka was Emeritus Editor-In-Chief of the Middle East Journal of Anesthesiology (MEJA) and received wide international recognition as recipient of a number of prestigious awards. He was the author of more than 500 publications in areas covering muscle relaxants, obstetric and cardiac anesthesia, as well as anesthesia for children.

He was also the mentor to hundreds of anesthesiologists who now hold leading positions in Lebanon, the region, and around the world today.

Pioneer in air freight aviation, Munir AbuHaidar (BA '49) died at his home in Millbrook, New York on October 4. He was also on the leading edge of business practices providing employees with health insurance and education benefits, and placing an emphasis on the training and employment of women.

In 1975, his company, Trans Mediterranean Airways (TMA), was one of the largest air freight airlines in the world with routes to the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the United States.

The second largest employer in Lebanon at the time, with over 5,000 employees, TMA could not sustain the extreme hardships of Lebanon's civil war, and AbuHaidar sold the airline.

He moved his family to Millbrook, New York and focused on philanthropy. The eponymous AbuHaidar Neuroscience Center which opened at AUBMC in 2007, is the result of his great generosity, vision, and dedication to making lives better.
Story Highlights
  • ​Amid the AUB community's 150th anniversary celebrations in 2016, it was also a year in which some of our most distinguished and highly-respected members were lost. Here we look back at some of those who made the most impact who passed away in 2016.
 
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