AUB Fulfills the Dreams of the Founding Fathers after 140 Years
The academic year 1991-92 witnessed AUB's 125th anniversary during which
AUB was recovering from the brutalities of the civil war that ended in
1991. AUB celebrated the occasion by compiling The Founding Fathers of
the American University of Beirut: Biographies (1992). The latter sheds
light on the qualities the founding fathers nurtured at AUB, and that
helped the University survive despite all the strains of many wars and
The book, in both English and Arabic, tells the story of AUB's founding
fathers: the Reverend Daniel Bliss, the Reverend David Stuart Dodge, Dr.
Edwin Lewis, Dr. Harvey Porter, Dr. George Edward Post, Dr. Cornelius
Van Dyck, and Dr. John Wortabet. Ghada Yusuf Khoury's compilation of invaluable
primary documents such as the letters, speeches, minutes, and articles
from University newsletters reveals the accomplishments and attributes
of each of the founding fathers. The book portrays the insights and values
they followed in establishing the strong foundations of the University.
The Founding Fathers is dedicated to Dr. William M. Thomson, author of
the The Land and the Book, who "according to President Daniel Bliss,
'from his high tower of observation, first gave voice to the thought of
a college to supply the wants of the East.'" Later in the book, Daniel
Bliss in his retirement address acknowledges William Thomson for suggesting
to him in 1861 the "wisdom of establishing in Syria a college for
the higher education of the youth of the land."
Perhaps, the unique value of the documents published in this book lies
in its revelation of the origin of the ideas that drove AUB to where it
According to Daniel Bliss, "When an institution is prosperous with
thousands of alumni like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, it is comparatively
easy to raise funds for its enlargement, but a college with no history,
no alumni, no campus, no buildings, no existence except in thought and
on paper, requires much patience and hard work to secure means for its
It is thanks to the patience and hard work of the founding fathers that
AUB, after 140 years, has a wide campus, is prosperous, and has thousands
of alumni whose support has been instrumental in raising funds, just as
President Bliss had envisioned.