Program and professor at UC Santa Barbara. Then the situation
seemed to improve in Lebanon and, feeling nostalgic, I gave up my position
there and returned to AUB in 1977, where I stayed until 1984.
Do you have particular memories from that time?
Apart from the general destruction and a few narrow escapes from shelling,
there is one incident which stands out in my memory. Acting President
David Dodge asked me to take our Annual Report and attend the Board of
Trustees meeting in New York on his behalf. Despite the war, I managed
to cross the green line and stayed with some family friends,
the Khatchadourians. As I departed, they kindly gave me a bottle of water
and some cake which proved providential. I managed to find space on the
deck of a freighter bound for Cyprus and that gift sustained me through
the next 36 hours. En route, the ship was stopped and searched by an Israeli
gunboat and crew. I eventually arrived safely in Larnaca and was able
to fly to New York in time for the meeting. It was then that David Dodge
was kidnapped in Beirut.
When did you leave Beirut? Have you been back?
After I left Beirut in 1984, I continued my association with AUB (1984-85)
as an advisor to the chairman of the Board of Trustees, Najib Halaby.
In 1985 and 1986 I was project director and executive secretary of the
Planning Council of the Hariri University Colleges Project, which was
sponsored by the Hariri Foundation, AUB, and the Consortium for International
Cooperation in Higher Education. It was intended to provide a foundation
on which, one day, it may be possible to build high-quality liberal arts
colleges in Lebanon. Afterwards my association with Lebanon continued
as vice president of the Hariri Foundation in Washington DC. The foundation
was instrumental in bringing Lebanese students to the United States and
I visited Beirut in 1998 after a long absence. Although I missed the old
Beirut which I knew and loved, I was impressed with the serious reconstruction
effort I witnessed. I was very happy to see AUB rebuilt and growing again.
I attended the commencement exercises and, as professor emeritus, marched
with the faculty and joined them on the podium. It was a special experience
that left me with much hope for the future.
What impact has AUB had on your life?
From the moment I arrived in Beirut, AUB became the center of my life.
It was the center of my intellectual, administrative, and research work
and of course, most importantly, my teaching career. Even when I took
time off to go abroad, I was always on leave from AUB, knowing I would
return. I met my wife Najla at AUB and our daughter Gwendolyn was born
at AUH. I enjoyed the social life Lebanon afforded and made many lifelong
Do you have something you would like to say to your former students?
I hope they realize that they are a very important bridge culturally and
intellectually between Lebanon and the rest of the world. I congratulate
them on their many achievements to date and hope that they will continue
in their endeavors in the United States and elsewhere. I would also like
to urge them to go to Dog River and read the inscriptions there to be
reminded that Lebanon has always endured and survived, and that this
too shall pass.