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Spring 2008 Vol. VI, No. 3

Inside the Gate

Presidents of AUB

Daniel Bliss (1866–1902)
Missionary, educator, founder, first and longest serving president of Syrian Protestant College (now AUB), Bliss was born in the village of Georgia, Vermont. Graduated from Amherst College and ordained there in 1855. He wanted the University to serve “all conditions and classes of men without regard to color, nationality, race, or religion.”

Howard S. Bliss (1902–20)
Son of Daniel Bliss. Kept the college open throughout World War I under Ottoman rulers. Born in Souk el-Gharb; elementary schooling in Lebanon, and high school and college in the United States. Graduated from Amherst and Union Theological Seminary. Died in office in 1920.

Bayard Dodge (1923–48)
Born in New York, son of William Dodge, who helped Daniel Bliss (who would become his father-in-law) recruit the first trustees. BA, Princeton University; MA, Columbia University; DD Union Theological Seminary. First director of West Hall in 1913. He held the University together throughout World War II, frequently making anonymous financial donations. His credo: “Trust in God, and do what’s right.”

Stephen Penrose (1948–54)
Native of Washington State; BA, Whitman College before teaching physics (1928-31) at AUB. PhD, philosophy, Columbia, before returning to Beirut and becoming president, 1948—another difficult war year. Wrote important history of AUB: That They May Have Life. “This institution was dedicated to the making of men.” Died in his sleep in 1954 after working on new constitution for the University.

J. Paul Leonard (1957–61)
Inaugurated president one year before troubles of 1958. Born in Missouri, received numerous rewards for dedication to education. BA, Drury College, Missouri; MA, Columbia. Oversaw end of compulsory chapel services in 1958 and realized goal of housing women on campus with opening of Murex and Jewett Dormitories in 1960.

Norman Burns (1961–65)
Born in Ohio; taught economics for three years at AUB before assuming presidency. BS, political science, Wittenberg College; MA, international relations, Yale University. Prominent figure in international relations (Johns Hopkins lecturer, Foreign Service Institute, Jordan Mission); focused on AUB’s leadership among regional universities, service to the needs of the area, and blending liberal arts and professional school education.

Samuel Kirkwood (1965–76)
MD, Harvard. Internships and residencies, Boston City and Boston Lying-in Hospitals; assistant professor, Harvard Medical School. Commissioner of Massachusetts Public Health; USAID work in Pakistan and Iran. Dean AUB Faculty of Medicine, 1962. Kept University open despite student strikes and disturbances, Arab-Israeli wars, and beginning of the Lebanese Civil War.

Harold Hoelscher (1977–81)
BS, Princeton; MA, PhD, Washington University, Missouri. Dean, School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, and Director, Space Research Coordination Center. Numerous consultancies and other posts in Asia with educational organizations and industry. The Off Campus Program was established during his term.

Malcolm Kerr (1982–84)
Second president born in Lebanon; assassinated outside his College Hall office January 18, 1984. BA, political science, Princeton; MA, Arab studies, AUB; PhD, international relations, Johns Hopkins. Assistant Professor, AUB, PSPA, 1959-61. UCLA, Professor, political studies, 1962-82. Founding member and president of MESA. Director, Center for Near Eastern Studies, AUC.

Calvin Plimpton (1984–87)
President during one of the “toughest periods in Lebanese history.” Born Boston. BA, Amherst; MD, Harvard. President, Amherst College, 1960–71 and Downstate Medical Center, 1971–78. National Institutes of Health, 1983-84. AUB Board of Trustees, 1960–82, chair 1965–72, 1975–82; trustee emeritus.

Frederic Herter (1987–93)
Second president to serve from New York Office; AUB trustee since 1977, chair, 1985–87. BA, MD, Harvard; post graduate surgery, Presbyterian Hospital; surgical staff. Professor of Surgery, Columbia. Director of Surgery, Francis Delafield Hospital; acting chair, Surgery, Presbyterian. “The Lebanese are passionate about politics, but even more passionate about education.”

Robert Haddad (1993–96)
Born New York City. BS, psychology, Pittsburgh; MA, Near Eastern studies, Michigan; PhD, history and Middle Eastern studies, Harvard. Fulbright travel throughout Arab world. Prominent expert in religion and Middle Eastern studies, Smith College (over 30 years). Meeting with AUB campus community during a brief visit, December 1995: “This is an exhilarating moment and the most fulfilling of my presidency thus far.”

David Dodge (1996–97)
Third president born in Beirut, son of third president, Bayard Dodge; grandson of second president Howard Bliss, and great-grandson of founding president Daniel Bliss. BA, history, Princeton; MA, Near Eastern studies, Princeton. Worked with ARAMCO, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon (Tapline). Kidnapped and held hostage for one year, 1982, while acting president.

John Waterbury (1997–2008)
First president to reside in Marquand House since 1984. BA, oriental studies, Princeton; PhD, political science, Columbia. Assistant Professor, Michigan. American Universities Field Staff, Cairo; Visiting Professor, Aix Marseilles III. Associate and Professor, politics and international affairs, Princeton, 1978-98; Director, Center for International Studies, Princeton, and editor, World Politics, 1992-98.

Acting and interim presidents:
Acting President Dean Edward F. Nickoley (1920–23)
Acting President Dr. Costi K. Zurayk (1954–57)
Interim President Dr. James Cowan (1976–77)
Acting President Mr. David S. Dodge (1981–82)
Acting President Dr. Samir K. Thabet (1984)

“We cannot be political. We have to continue to do our business, which is educating people.”
Calvin Plimpton (1984-87)

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