With great sadness AUB announced the death of Professor Emeritus Najib
Abu Haydar. Many colleagues and friends paid tribute to this dominant
figure prominent in education, medicine, and public life. Acting Chairman
of the Department of Internal Medicine Nabil T. Nassar spoke of knowing
Professor Abu Haydar as "a teacher, friend, and advocate during [his]
early medical school years and beyond." He said that the department
and "his many friends and colleagues [would] only find consolation
in his family, who will keep his memory alive."
In communicating the loss to the AUB community, Dean of the Faculty of
Medicine and the Medical Center Nadim Cortas recalled the exemplary life
of "his mentor, colleague, and friend," describing him as "a
great man with a history that is intermeshed with that of the Faculty
of Medicine at AUB and Lebanon, . . . [who] left us after a long life
of exemplary non-discriminate giving. He dedicated almost all his life
to others. His loving family at AUB and Lebanon will feel his loss. Lebanon
lost one of its most honest, steadfast and courageous leaders.
Continuing, Dean Cortas noted that "Najib Abu Haydar was born on
December 23, 1923 in Hammana, Lebanon and received his BS degree from
the American University of Beirut in 1944 and his MD in 1948. He specialized
in endocrinology and metabolism at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and joined
Harvard University [from] 1951-1955, where he started his pioneering research
on iodine deficiency.
"Najib returned to Beirut and joined AUB in 1955 as head of the Division
of Endocrinology in the Department of Medicine. He established the first
research, diagnostic, and therapeutic endocrinology laboratory in Lebanon
and the Middle East, bringing new diagnostic and therapeutic modalities
to patients and giving great opportunities to upcoming young academic
physicians and scientists. This division with its laboratories remains
to date one of the major assets of the Department of Internal Medicine.
"In addition to his major academic and administrative responsibilities
at AUB from 1955-1992, which earned him tenure, he assumed other important
responsibilities at AUB during the same period. He [was] mayor of Hammana
from 1963 to 1999 and despite the very difficult times during the civil
war, he insured that all laws were enforced, [thus saving] Hammana from
undergoing the environmental and architectural degradation that occurred
all over Lebanon during that period. He was one of the founding members
(1967) and first president of the Friends of Jerusalem Society.
"During the civil war which started in 1975 in Lebanon, Najib was
among the founding members of the Unified Ras Beirut Front that attracted
a large following and played a major role in stabilizing the environment
around AUB and its hospital, keeping them open to all and accessible as
much as possible and keeping the inhabitants of Ras Beirut united and
tolerant. All through his life, Najib fought against intolerance, sectarianism
and injustice with unique courage, sometimes putting his life at risk.
He expressed immense foresight and wisdom. He became the minister of education
in Lebanon (1971-1973) and established the National Education Research
"Najib was among the founding members and first president, in 1977,
of the Arab Association for the Advancement of Science. He was on the
governing board of the Lebanese National Council for Research and a member
and president of the National UNESCO Committee. He was decorated with
the distinguished Royal Jordanian Medal of Merit and was awarded the International
Comenius Medal of UNESCO in 1998.
"His wife Nancy Nolan [and children] Ramiz, Elizabeth, Karim, and
generations of people whom he helped to develop careers and/or express
their potentials, survive him and will keep his legacy alive."
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