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Spring 2006 Vol. IV, No. 3

AUB Reflections

Speaking with Fuad Haddad

Professor Emeritus Fuad Haddad (BA ’47, MA ’60) has been all things to all students: teacher, advisor, record keeper, and even target. He relates his nearly 60-year history with AUB .

When did you arrive at AUB?
While I was teaching at the International College (IC), I decided to continue my education at AUB. I enrolled as a student in 1947, got my BA in philosophy in 1957 and my MA in education in 1960. I taught for a year at AUB and then left in 1961 when I received a scholarship to study at the University of Chicago. When I graduated from Chicago in 1965 with my PhD in education, I received an urgent telegram from Habib Kurani, the chairman of the AUB Education Department at the time, urging me to “come back immediately.” I turned down other job offers to give AUB precedence and returned to teach in the Education Department where I continued to teach even after I took on the role of registrar in 1972. I always kept teaching one course while I worked as an administrator though the registrar had the double responsibility for both admissions and registration. I’ve been here ever since. In that time, I’ve published two books with AUB Press—From the Vineyards of Lebanon: Poems by Khalil Hawi and Nadeem Naimy and Al-Farabi’s Theory of Communication—and a number of articles. I was cofounder and president of the Arab Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, and helped to build and restructure the registrar offices at a number of universities in the Arab world. My official relationship with the University ended in 2001, but I still feel very connected.

What was your first impression?
AUB was not totally foreign to me when I started classes, since I was an IC teacher. I have incredible memories of my relations with the Philosophy Department, with which I had most of my contact. We had excellent professors. Every week, we had a philosophy circle, at which a student would give a paper in one of the professor’s houses and both students and faculty would discuss what had been presented. I remember with great affection the late Professor Richard Scott and also Charles Malik and Ronald Puccetti. They were truly our friends. The relations between students and professors were family relationships. We learned from them not only philosophy, but important lessons in attitudes, values, and how to develop relationships. The professors had the missionary spirit and they infused it into the University.

Where did you teach most of your classes?
I taught in Jesup Hall, in room 302, if I remember correctly. I was teaching a graduate course called Western Philosophy of Education, so I decided to develop a companion course called Arab Philosophy of Education that I gave in Arabic. I was very proud of this class, because there was no class, even at the Arab universities, that covered this topic; AUB was a pioneer in introducing this course.

What was the biggest change you noticed while at AUB?
As the student body and the administration have grown, the intimate relationships that I remember so fondly between students and professors have diminished. There are, of course, new buildings all over. I wished some of these buildings could have been built outside the campus, nearby, to save the green spaces here, but still our campus is as lovely as it used to be.

What do you think your students most remember about your classes?

I loved my courses. I involved my students in the discussions, but I made a big effort not to let the discussion go astray. I also tried hard to make each lecture connect to the previous lesson and I would give a summary at the end of what had been discussed. I hope these are the things that students remember.

Did you stay at AUB throughout the war (1975–1990)?
I was here at AUB throughout the war. Many left and I was often alone with just one other colleague in the Registrar’s Office, but all during that time, we graduated students on time. We went through some very hard times. It was difficult to commute between East and West Beirut so we opened the Off Campus Program in Achrafieh. In this way, we never stopped providing education to students.

Do you have particular memories from those years?
The Registrar’s Office was really a focal point for the community’s concerns during those years. Those who wanted to have their friends or family admitted as students put us under great pressure. At times we were threatened.

I remember one incident quite clearly. I was in my office at College Hall—the old College Hall of course—when I heard that a student had killed two deans in the building. I went up to the third floor to see what was going on and the student caught me, holding a pistol in one hand and a hand grenade in the other. I was a particular target because we had recently expelled 101 students from the University and I was the one who signed the dismissals. He told me, “Stand by the wall, sir.” The only relieving word was “sir,” but with or without that word, I still had to do as I was told. I stood still as other administrators came out of the offices and were similarly detained in the corridor.

At some point, I started inching along the wall, seeing if I could make an escape. But the student noticed and told me if I moved another inch, he would shoot me. When he had caught about 12 administrators, I started moving again, gradually shifting towards the Comptroller’s Office. All of a sudden, one of the secretaries rushed by (the student had not detained the female staff) and pushed me into the Comptroller’s Office, jumped in behind me, and slammed the door. I don’t know why the student didn’t shoot me straight away, but in this way I was saved.

I had other threats from political parties, insisting that I admit their students to the University, but I stood very firm. I didn’t succumb to the pressure. I told these people who would threaten me and my staff to follow protocol: submit an application and if the applicant deserved admittance, they would be admitted. I used good, polite language to calm them down. I would say things like, “God willing, we will see how we can help,” and they would go away satisfied, even though they had gotten nothing out of me.

I had a Shiite secretary who resigned during those years and many political parties demanded that I appoint a member from their ranks as her replacement. I refused. One afternoon, while walking under the banyan tree on my way to Jesup Hall to give the course I always taught, I was detained by a student—a student I knew—who insisted that their political ally be appointed to the secretarial post. I told the student I was on my way to teach, but made an appointment to meet him after class under the same tree. The student did not reappear. It seems that some people overheard us and may have counseled the student to stop threatening me.

I suppose that is an example of temperance shown by even fanatical students, and I’d like to mention another. In 1973, the students went on strike and occupied all the university buildings. They came to occupy my office. I told them, “I have all of your records here, this is a student office.” I said that if I had to leave my office, I would ask that they not disturb these files. And they did not. They went so far as to lock the office and leave one student outside as a guard. They had some respect for the office, and luckily I had a good relationship with some of the students.

I remember, too, after the bombing of College Hall, my staff and I searched through the debris and collected every record and document related to the Registrar’s Office. We found that only one record was missing. We contacted Landry Slade at the New York office and retrieved the record from microfilms that I used to send to them as backup.

Do you have something you would like to say to your former students?
In my relationship with my students, I was a professor, but mainly I felt like an advisor. I hope that I helped them follow certain values, and the one value that I cherish the most is love. I loved my students and still do.

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