American University of Beirut

History of the Office



Fadlo R. Khuri

September 2015-Present
Fadlo, R. Khuri, MD, the 16th president of the university, was elected in March 2015 and assumed office in September 2015 Read More

Dr. Khuri was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine, and holds the Roberto C. Goizueta Distinguished Chair for Cancer Research. He also served as Deputy Director for the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University. Dr. Khuri was also appointed Executive Associate Dean for Research of the Emory University School of Medicine. An AUB trustee and AUB former student, he has been a member of Naef K. Basile Foundation Board of Trustees since 2005, and a member of the Atlanta International School Board of Trustees since 2009. Dr. Khuri has chaired the AUB Medical School International Advisory Committee since 2010. He served as chair of the education committee of the Atlanta International School board of trustees.

Dr. Khuri was born in Boston, Massachusetts and brought up in Beirut, where he attended AUB from 1981-82. He moved to the US in 1982, and earned his bachelor's degree from Yale University, in New Haven, CT, and his MD from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, in New York, NY. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Boston City Hospital, Boston, MA, and his fellowship in Hematology and Medical Oncology at the Tufts-New England Medical Center. He was on faculty at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center from 1995-2002 prior to joining Emory University and the Winship Cancer Institute (Winship) in 2003.

An accomplished molecular oncologist and translational thought leader, Dr. Khuri's clinical expertise and research are focused on the development of molecular, prognostic, therapeutic, and chemopreventive approaches to improve the standard of care for patients with lung and aerodigestive cancers.

Dr. Khuri’s AUB roots run deep. Both of his maternal great grandfathers graduated from AUB, Jirjis El-Khoury El-Makdisi obtaining his diploma from AUB in 1888, and Fadlo Hourani obtaining his diploma in 1894. His paternal grandfather, Najib N. Khuri, obtained his BA in Mathematics from AUB in 1910. His father, the late Raja N. Khuri graduated from college and medical school at AUB with high distinction, winning the Penrose Award, the University’s highest scholastic honor on both occasions (1955 and 1959). Raja Khuri served as Professor and Chair of Physiology (1968-78), Dean of the Medical School (1978-87) at AUB, and his family and friends endowed the Deanship of Medicine in his honor. Dr. Khuri’s mother, Soumaya Khuri, graduated from AUB with high distinction in Mathematics in 1959, before obtaining an AM from Harvard and a PhD from Yale University. Soumaya Khuri served in the Department of Mathematics from 1974-1986, departing as a full professor.

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Peter F. Dorman

2008-June 2015
Peter F. Dorman who was born at the American University Hospital – returned to the land of his birth to become AUB’s 15th president on July 1, 2008 Read More

Peter F. Dorman is the great-great-grandson of the University’s founder, the Reverend Daniel Bliss.

The son of Presbyterian missionaries who lived in Lebanon for more than fifty years, Dorman spent his childhood in Beirut, where he attended the American Community School with his four siblings. He earned his BA cum laude in anthropology from Amherst College in 1970 and his PhD with honors from the University of Chicago, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, in 1985. Before embarking on an academic career, Dorman served as a US Naval Officer in the Pacific theater (1971-74) and worked for eleven years in the Department of Egyptian Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Dorman became an assistant professor in Egyptology in the Oriental Institute and Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago, in 1988, and a year later was appointed to the position of field director of the Oriental Institute’s Epigraphic Survey in Luxor, Egypt. In this capacity, Dorman traveled regularly between Chicago, Illinois, and “Chicago House” in Luxor, Egypt, until 1998, when he returned to the University of Chicago to teach fulltime. Before his acceptance of the AUB presidency, he served for five years as chair of Chicago’s Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.

President Dorman has received numerous academic awards and research grants and is the author and editor of several major books and many articles on the study of ancient Egypt. In 2002, von Zabern published his monograph, Faces in Clay: Technique, Imagery, and Allusion in a Corpus of Ceramic Sculpture from Ancient Egypt, an examination of artisanal craftsmanship in light of material culture, iconography, and religious texts. His most recent publication is an edited volume with Johns Hopkins University Professor Betsy Bryan, entitled Sacred Space and Sacred Function in Ancient Thebes. Although he has broad research interests and has written on many topics, Dorman is perhaps best known for his historical work on the reign of Hatshepsut and the Amarna period.

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John Waterbury

John Waterbury became the fourteenth president of AUB in January 1998 and the first president to reside in Beirut since 1984 Read More
During his tenure at AUB, Dr. Waterbury has sought to restore the University to its long-standing place and reputation as an institution of higher learning meeting the highest international standards.

Before joining AUB, Waterbury was, for nearly twenty years, professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He specialized in the political economy of the developing countries with a special focus on the Middle East. He was director of Princeton's Center of International Studies and editor of the academic journal, World Politics, from 1992 to 1998.

Waterbury earned his PhD in public law and government at Columbia University in 1968 and went on to the University of Michigan as assistant professor of political science. In 1971 he joined the American Universities Field Staff, a consortium of American Universities, which he represented in Cairo from 1971 to 1977. During 1977-78 he was visiting professor at the Universite‚ Aix-Marseilles III in France

Dr. Waterbury has published widely on the politics of the Middle East, the political economy of public enterprise, and on the development of international river basins. His latest book, ‘The Nile Basin: National Determinants of Collective Action,’ was published by Yale University Press in 2002.

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David S. Dodge

David S. Dodge was appointed president of AUB on December 20, 1996 where he remained until 1997. Read More
He was born was born on November 17, 1922 in Beirut. He was the son of former president Bayard Dodge, the grandson of former president Howard Bliss, and great-grandson of Daniel Bliss, the founder and first president of SPC/AUB.

He received his BA in history from Princeton University in 1945 and his MA in Near Eastern studies (also from Princeton) in 1949. From 1949-1976 he was employed by ARAMCO in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, and its subsidiary TAPLINE in Beirut in several management positions including government relations.

He was elected in 1961 to the Board of Trustees of AUB, served as administrative officer, as well as vice-president for administration, acting president (1981-1982), until he was taken hostage in Lebanon and held for one year. He again joined the Board of Trustees in 1983 and was also chairman of the Daniel Bliss Society.

He also held various other positions, namely president and chairman of the board of the Near East Foundation, served as president and member of the board of directors of the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation and served in various capacities for his Alma Mater, Princeton.

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Robert M. Haddad

Robert M. Haddad became the first Arab-American to assume the post of president at AUB in 1993 Read More

He was born in New York City in 1930. He received his BS in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and his MA in Near-Eastern studies from the University of Michigan. He earned his PhD in history and Middle-Eastern studies from Harvard University.

He lived and traveled widely in the Arab world during the 1950's and 1960's as a Fullbright Scholar and as a research fellow, and was already a prominent expert in Middle Eastern history and religion when he became the first Arab-American to assume the post of president at AUB in 1993.

He served at Smith College in the US for over 30 years, working extensively in college administration, and became a notable part of the governance there. He was married to the former Helen Rogerson, with three children. Dr Haddad left the presidency in December 1996, after serving a challenging four-year period at AUB.

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Frederic P. Herter

Frederic P. Herter, an AUB Trustee since 1977 he was elected chairman of the board in 1985, and later appointed president in 1987 Read More

He received his MD from Harvard University, and from 1955-1953 did post-graduate training in surgery at the Presbyterian Hospital. He was appointed to the attending surgical staff in 1954. He later went to Columbia University where he was appointed professor of surgery in 1966. He served as director of surgery at Francis Delafield Hospital in New York, acting chairman of surgery at Presbyterian, consultant at the Harlem and Goldwater Memorial Hospitals, consultant at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center, trustee of Jackson Laboratories, and of the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital.

An AUB Trustee since 1977 he was elected chairman of the board in 1985, and later appointed president in 1987. Interviewed shortly afterward by the Chronicle of Higher Education, he took an optimistic view of AUB's future; "Enrollment is up to capacity," he said, "with 5,000 students and 500 faculty numbers. There is tremendous motivation in Lebanon. The Lebanese are passionate about politics, but they are even more passionate about education. Despite all their problems, they still consider AUB their number one priority," Dr. Herter told the Chronicle.

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Calvin Plimpton

In September 1984 the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Calvin Plimpton as the tenth president of AUB, a position he held until 1987 Read More

He was born in New England in 1919. He was chairman of the Department and professor of Medicine at AUB from 1957 to 1959. He also served as associate dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences and chief of staff of the AUH.

A member of the University's Board of Trustees for 23 years beginning April 1960, he became chairman of the board in 1965. The Lebanese government awarded him the Order of the Cedars for his service to the country.

After 11 years as president of Amherst College in Massachusetts, Plimpton assumed his new post as president of Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn in 1971. Downstate, a unit of the State University of New York, includes the third largest medical school in the United States, a school of Graduate Studies, a College of Health Related Professions, and a College of Nursing. From 1983 to 1984, he was in charge of international programs for the National Library of Medicine at the National Institutes of Health.

In September 1984 the Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Dr. Plimpton as the tenth president of AUB, a position he held until 1987. In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor in 1985, Plimpton said that AUB had pulled through a number of major threats and crises in its 120-year history. "We cannot be political. We have to continue to do our business, which is educating people--not indoctrinating but encouraging them to think for themselves--and let the chips fall where they may."

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Malcolm H. Kerr

The third president to be born in Lebanon, Malcolm Kerr, was appointed president of AUB in March 1982 Read More

Malcolm Kerr, was born on October 8, 1931 at the American University Hospital. His father Dr. Stanley Kerr was for a long time professor of biochemistry at AUB, and his mother Mrs. Elsa Kerr served for a while as dean of women. He completed high school in the US, then enrolled at Princeton University where he earned a BA in political science.

He returned to Beirut where he continued his studies at AUB receiving an MA in Arab studies in 1955. He returned to the US to further his studies at Johns Hopkins University, and in 1958 received a PhD in international relations. He and his wife, the former Ann C. Zwicker, then returned to Beirut.

Kerr joined AUB as assistant professor at the Department of Political Science. In 1962 he accepted a similar position at the University of California at Los Angeles, and spent the next twenty years at UCLA; he was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1973, and was appointed chairman of the Department of Political Science. He then became dean of the Division of Social Sciences (1973-1976). He returned to the Middle East and spent one year at the American University in Cairo. He became director of the Von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies; he joined the AUB Board of Trustees; and served as director of UCLA's Education Abroad Program Center in Cairo.

Malcolm Kerr was appointed president of AUB in March 1982. Though the term was to take effect as of the first of July, President Kerr was unable to assume his duties in Beirut due to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, so he worked from the New York Office. He eventually arrived in Beirut in September. For the following year and a half Kerr worked diligently at his office in College Hall. He was murdered on January 18, 1984, close to his office.

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Harold E. Hoelscher

The AUB Board of Trustees named Harold E. Hoelscher president effective July 1, 1977, where he remained until 1981 Read More

Harold Hoelscher studied at Princeton where he received a BS in chemical engineering. He continued his postgraduate studies at Washington University in St. Louis where he received his MA then a PhD in chemical engineering and mathematics. He was dean of the School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh and served as director of the Space Research Coordination Center. He also served as president of the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok.

Hoelscher traveled extensively throughout South and Southeast Asia. He was consultant to several US industries and foundations. He chaired the Joint Committee on International Activities of the American Society for Engineering Education. He also served on a number of committees related to engineering, as well as the Commission for Planning in the Eastern Region - a UN non-governmental organization. He was member of the Board of Trustees of the American University in Cairo. His publications cover a wide scope in his specialty.

The AUB Board of Trustees named him president effective July l, 1977, where he remained until 1981.

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Samuel B. Kirkwood

In November 1965, Samuel B. Kirkwood was appointed AUB's seventh president, where he remained until his retirement in 1976. Read More

Samuel Kirkwood came to AUB as dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences in 1962. His experience was extensive having served as commissioner of the Department of Public Health at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1953 until 1958; later he was senior administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Iran.

In November 1965, when Burns resigned, Kirkwood was appointed AUB's seventh president, where he remained until his retirement in 1976. They were not easy years. The year 1965-66 marked the Centennial Year and Kirkwood worked hard, visiting Middle East countries, meeting with royalty, heads of state and government officials. He managed to keep AUB open during adverse times, Arab-Israeli wars, strikes, demonstrations, upheavals, and finally the civil war in Lebanon.

Kirkwood was a steadfast, soft-spoken person. At one of the student strikes on campus during the early 1970's, Kirkwood left his office in College Hall and went to West Hall to talk to the demostrating students. Amidst a great deal of commotion and shouting, President Kirkwood started to speak. Almost immediately there was calm, while the students strained to hear Kirkwood's softly spoken words.

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Norman Burns

Before coming to AUB as president, Norman Burns held a number of important posts in international relations Read More

Norman Burns was born in Versailles, Ohio in 1906. He earned a BS in political science from Wittenberg College in Springfield, Ohio, then obtained an MA in international relations from Yale

He came to AUB in 1929 where he remained for three years as adjunct professor of economics. While in Lebanon he made a thorough study of the customs duties in Syria which was published under the title of 'Tariff of Syria, 1919-1932'. Among the several articles and book he wrote was an article entitled 'The Role in the Middle East for the American University of Beirut.

Before coming to AUB as president, Burns held a number of important posts in international relations: he was part time lecturer at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University; he joined the State Department, where he later became director of the Foreign Service Institute in Washington. After two years he left to become the chief economic advisor to UNRWA. He remained in that post until he was appointed director for Near East and South Asia Operations of the International Cooperation Agency; from there he went on to the position of head of U.S. Operations Mission in Jordan.

He was married in 1935 to Constance Albrech, herself a graduate (MA) in Romance Languages, from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania; She also studied French in Paris at the Sorbonne.

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J. Paul Leonard

J. Paul Leonard was inaugurated president of AUB at the Commencement ceremony on July 1, 1957. Read More

J. Paul Leonard was a native of Lockwood, Missouri. He graduated with a BA from Drury College, Missouri, then went on to Columbia University where he earned his MA in 1927; two years later he was awarded his PhD. In the same year he married Miss Johnnie Lueille Ferguson, and later had two children. In 1955, at the bicentennial celebration, Leonard was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters degree, in recognition of his contribution to the service of education in the US.

He was inaugurated president of AUB at the Commencement ceremony on July 1, 1957. On December 17, 1957, Drs. Farid S. Haddad, president of AUB Alumni Association awarded Leonard the Daniel Bliss Gold Medal; on the 21st he was awarded the Lebanese Order of the Cedars medal. He retired on December 31, 1960.

President Leonard devoted his lifetime to the service of education, and received recognition with a number of honors from the US. In addition to his tireless devotion to his field, he also found time to participate in various committees, clubs and community projects.

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Stephen B.L. Penrose, Jr.

Stephen B.L. Penrose, Jr. was offered the job of president of AUB when Dodge retired in 1948. He accepted and was inaugurated at the opening of the 1948-49 academic year Read More

Stephen Beasley Linnard Penrose, Jr. was born on March 19, 1908 in Walla Walla, Washington. He graduated from Whitman College with a BA, and came to AUB where he was taught physics from 1928 to 1931. He then returned to the US and enrolled at Columbia University, receiving a PhD in philosophy in 1934; that same year he married Margaret Date.

He was offered the job of president of AUB when Dodge retired in 1948. He accepted and was inaugurated at the opening of the 1948-49 academic year. The job of president of both AUB and International College was a challenging one. Funds were needed to keep both institutions going. Dodge made ambitious plans to raise ten and a half million dollars to cover the budget of the University for the next ten years.

During 1953 and 1954 he traveled extensively, making numerous trips to the US to secure the financing needed for expansion. He faced numerous challenges and obstacles which left little time for rest. On December 9, 1954, whilst drafting a new constitution for AUB; he worked late into the night. He then slept, never to wake up again. He was the second president to have given his life for AUB.

His book "That They May Have Life" is an invaluable story of the Syrian Protestant College/American University of Beirut.

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Bayard Dodge

The inauguration of Bayard Dodge as third president was held on June 28, 1923, after Commencement exercises. Read More

Bayard Dodge was born to a wealthy family in New York City in 1883. He was sent to a private school for his elementary education; then he enrolled in Princeton University, where he received a BA in 1909. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he earned an MA in 1913; he then entered Union Theological Seminary where he received a Doctor of Divinity degree but he was never ordained.

He came to Beirut in 1913 to assume the responsibilities of director of West Hall, at that time under construction with funds supplied in part by his father. West Hall was completed in 1914, the same year Dodge married Mary Bliss, daughter of Howard Bliss, whom he had previously met at a gathering in connection with the College. In 1920 the Syrian Protestant College became the American University of Beirut that we know today.

The inauguration of Dodge as third president was held on June 28, 1923, after Commencement exercises. In 1948 Dodge retired, having served AUB for twenty-five years. And served he did; he chose to receive no salary and whatever monies he donated to the University were always registered anonymously.

President Dodge was a modest, unpretentious man; who focused on the good qualities in people. One of the prominent graduates of the late 1920's, at an Alumni reunion, had this to say about him: "President Dodge taught us this: Trust in God, and do what's right". This was Dodge's credo. He was steadfast during the difficult times of World War II; he and Mrs. Dodge always set a good example of being benevolent and helpful. In recognition of his work, both in peace and in war, Occidental University awarded him the Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree. Lebanon and other countries decorated him with medals of distinction for his dedication to his work.

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Howard S. Bliss

Howard Bliss came to Beirut to assume the responsibilities of president of the Syrian Protestant College. He was inaugurated in May 1903 Read More

Howard Bliss was born in Souk-el-Gharb, Lebanon, on December 6, 1860. He received his elementary education in Souk-el-Gharb, then left for the United States, following in his father's footsteps, graduating from Amherst College in 1882. He then joined the Union Theological Seminary, and was granted a scholarship which allowed him to pursue his studies for two years at Oxford, Berlin, and Goettingen.

Upon the retirement of his father, Howard Bliss left his work as minister of the Christian Union Congregational Church in New Jersey, and came to Beirut to assume the responsibilities of president of the Syrian Protestant College. He was inaugurated in May 1903.

He was a man of high principles, and was highly respected by the Turkish rulers of this part of the world. During World War I, even though Turkey and the United States were in opposite camps, the College never closed. Many of the College's overseas students were stuck in Beirut, unable to return to their homes. Howard Bliss made sure that neither these students nor the rest of the College would ever be wanting; it was difficult times but he managed to pull through until after the war. Living under stress during the war years may have contributed to his premature death on May 2, 1920 aged 59 years.

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Daniel Bliss

The Syrian Protestant College (SPC) opened its doors on the 3rd of December, 1866. It was a modest beginning with Daniel Bliss both president and teacher Read More

Founder and first president of the Syrian Protestant College, Daniel L. Bliss was born on August 17, 1823. He was an ambitious young boy who worked his way through school and later to college. He graduated from Amherst College at the age of 29, spent two years at Andover Seminary, and then ordained minister. He joined the Foreign Mission and came to teach at the American Academy of 'Abeih, and later at Souk el Gharb. For four years he was not only a teacher, but also a student of Arabic.

It was during those years that the idea of establishing a college came into being. He was selected to be in charge of the project, having been one of its prime movers; he returned to the United States, arriving in New York in September 1862. He met with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions where he spoke in support of the resolutions adopted in Beirut; he met The Hon. William E. Dodge who was impressed by Bliss's presentation, who helped him form a Board of Trustees. A certificate of incorporation was drafted on April 18, 1863, and on April 24, 1863 a charter for establishing a college was granted by the legislature of the State of New York.

This was followed by a long tour in the US and UK to raise the funds needed to start the college. They arrived in Beirut on March 2, 1866. The Syrian Protestant College (SPC) opened its doors on the 3rd of December, 1866. It was a modest beginning with Daniel Bliss both president and teacher. He finally retired in 1902, when his son Howard became president. However, he remained living on campus until his death in 1916.

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Also Served​​​​

Makhluf Haddadin, July-August 2015 

Raja Khuri, ​June 1985-March 1986 

​Samir K. Thabet, 1984

David S. Dodge,1981-1982 

James Cowan, 1976-1977

Constantin K. Zurayk, 1954-1957 

Edward F. Nickoley, 1920-1923 ​​​

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