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AUB History: a Short Guide: Home

The guide was compiled on the occasion of AUB 150th Anniversary. It was initiated by the Research and Instruction Services and prepared in collaboration with the Archives and Special Collections Department at the University Libraries.


“Our type of education is both practical and democratic. Our aim is that of a true school: to train useful and intelligent citizens, who will not tear down but build-up, who will live for public service, rather than for selfish gain.”
Bayard Dodge: Inauguration Address, June 28, 1923

AUB Presidents


History of the Presidents: Profiles of previous AUB presidents.

Photo Gallery

Historical Overview of AUB's Motto

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AUB Timeline

AUB Timeline: a chronological line that you can click on for bits of history, AUB firsts, medicine and health, campus and more. 

Selected events of AUB history (1862 - 2015)

1862: W. M. Thomson proposes founding college in Beirut.

1863: The State of New York granted a charter to the Syrian Protestant College.

1865: Cornelius Van Dyck directed the translation of the Old Testament into Arabic.

1866: The Syrian Protestant College (SPC) opened with its first class of 18 students on December 3.

1866: Daniel Bliss becomes founding president of SPC from 1866-1902.

1867: The Syrian Protestant College started the 'School of Medicine'.

1870: The original portion of Ras Beirut campus was purchased.

1870: SPC graduates its first class of five students.

1871: First class of six medical doctors graduated from SPC.

1874: George E. Post launched the first Lebanese medical journal in Arabic, Al-Tabib   

1882: Edwin Lewis resigns following a controversy over Darwin. Campus's first students protest movements clamoring for freedom of speech on campus grew of that resignation.

1883: English became the main language of instruction in the “School of Medicine”.

1890: AUB awarded its first honorary doctorates to Yaqub Sarruf (BA 1870) and Faris Nimr (BA 1874), editors of al-Muqtataf a leading Arabic scientific and cultural monthly journals.

1894: The old observatory was rebuilt and completed in 1894. It was the first of its kind in this part of the world.

1897: SPC's General Statement of 1897-98 articulates for the first time that the Collegiate Department gives a liberal education.

1902: The College purchased a property across the street from AUB Medical Gate and established a 200-bed hospital that provided ancillary services.

1902: As of 1902 faculty were no longer required to sign the Declaration of Principles asserting the spiritual and missionary aims of the College that had been imposed after the Darwin controversy.

1910: Al-Kulliyah Published for the first time.

1914: West Hall was opened. Originally, West Hall housed a skating rink and a bowling alley.

1915: During WWI SPC doctors, nurses, and students played pivotal roles assisting relief efforts of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief.

1917: SPC suspended classes for first time in its history during World War I from April to May of 1917 with the exception of the Dental School.

1917: During WWI Beirut became a German submarine base and SPC's hospital treated many war casualties.

1918: Al-Urwa al-Wuthqa Association was founded.

1920: The Syrian Protestant College becomes the American University of Beirut and makes all professors equal.

1922: In December, 1922, May Ziadeh became the first woman to lecture at AUB.

1923: Shah of Persia visits AUB.

1923: New constitution for AUB.

1924: AUB officially became fully coeducational for a brief period in 1924; this followed a 1920 decision permitting women to enroll in graduate programs.

1927: AUB began leasing a piece of coastal land north of campus, now known as AUB Beach.

1928: Anbara Salam Khalidi lectures at AUB without the viel.

1929: AUB hosts the first solo art exhibition in Lebanon for artist Mustafa Farroukh.

1931: AUB began publishing the archaeological journal ‘Berytus’.

1932: Mandatory chapel attendance dropped.

1933: Edma Abu-Chedid becomes the first women to earn a medical doctorate from AUB.

1941: AUB becomes WWII safehaven. People, came from the surrounding neighborhoods to sleep under the trees or in shelters on AUB's Campus.

1943: First Student Council elected.

1945: On June 26, 1945, nineteen AUB alumni attended the San Francisco Conference, where the UN Charter was signed. Charles Malik helps draft UN's seminal human rights document

1950: Women's Auxiliary established.

1952: US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt visits AUB.

1952: The Alumni Club was built behind the AUB hospital.

1952: The Jafet Memorial Library, dedicated on May 5, 1952, was donated by the descendants of Nami Jafet (1860-1923).

1954: Political protests on campus. AUB students conducted large-scale demonstrations in support of Palestinians and Algerians and against the Western-led Baghdad Pact.

1955: AUB issues first Mission Statement.

1955: Egyptian writer and intellectual Taha Hussein visits AUB.

1958: AUB is a site for the first open-heart surgery in Lebanon and the Middle East.

1960: Indian Prime Minister Jawaharal Nehru visited AUB's campus and spoke to throngs of students and faculty at Assembly Hall.

1961: AUB introduces its first doctoral program.

1964: Olympic torch passes MainGate.

1965: AUB Professors Constantine Issidorides and Makhluf Haddadin discover the "Beirut Reaction," a chemical reaction that has led to the development of hundreds of antibacterial and anticancer drugs.

1969: Students create Speaker's Corner for open-air public speaking, debate, and discussion.

1971: Students protest 10% tuition increase; 22 are suspended.

1971: First kidney transplant performed at AUBMC.

1974: Student occupation of campus buildings in response to the AUB's administration attempt to increase tuition and fees by 10%.

1976: Tragic killings of FEA Dean Ghosn and Dean of Students Robert Najemy Najemy.

1980: AUB began its off-campus program in East Beirut.

1981: AUB Outdoors held for the first time with almost 1,000 participants.

1984: AUB President Malcolm Kerr is assassinated in College Hall (January 18).

1986: AUB closes after a series of kidnappings on the AUB community.

1989: In October, full academic program resumes after around seven months closing of the campus.

1991: College Hall bombed on November 8, 1991. The bomb destroyed a large portion of College Hall and part of Jafet Library.

1995: Annual Science Mathematics and Technology Fair held for the first time.

1998: Biology Students Society and Environment Club start Campus Recycling Program.

1999: College Hall reopens.

1999: AUB establishes Center for Advanced Mathematical Sciences (CAMS).

2001: AUB announces 20-year Campus Master Plan.

2002: Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies and Research established.

2002: Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon opens at AUBMC.

2006: AUB establishes Center for Civic Engagement and Community Services.

2007: AUB opens the Abu Haidar Neuroscience Institute.

2007: AUB establishes Munib and Angela Masri Institute of Energy and Natural Resources.

2007: AUB becomes smoke-free campus.

2007: Department of Design and Ecosystem Management was established.

2008: Former US President Jimmy Carter speaks at AUB.

2009: Charles Hostler Student Center completed.

2009: Suliman S. Olayan School of Business built.

2010: AUB launches Salim El-Hoss Bioethics and Professionalism Program.

2010: AUB announces University for Seniors.

2011: AUB establishes the Arabic Regional Center for Research and Training in Mental Health.

2011: AUB establishes Samih Darwazah Center for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.

2012: AUB announces establishment of the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship.

2012: AUB inaugurates AUB Art Gallery with first major public exhibition of Khalil Saleeby.

2012: Farouk K. Jabre Center for Arabic and Islamic Science and Philosophy was established.

2013: AUB inaugurates the new home of the Issam Fares Institute, designed by Zaha Hadid.

2014: AUB and partner universities launch a professional diploma in Green Technology.

2014: AUB announces largest gift in its history, donation of $32 million form Jamal Daniel and the Levant Foundation toward the University's Medical Center expansion.

2015: Board of Trustees votes to reinstate tenure.

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AUB's New York Office

AUB's New York Office is the Corporate and Administrative Headquarters of AUB in the United States.

Spring 2018 marks 15 years since AUB bought property in New York City and relocated its New York Office to the Debs Center, a state-of-the-art facility located at 3 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. With the installation of new audio/video systems, the Debs Center now hosts live video exchanges called NY-Beirut Briefings.

New York Office Timeline as published in 'AUB’s New York Office, The Debs Center, marks 15th year with new programming'

  • Before 1919, University affairs in New York City are conducted out of the offices of the chairman of the Board of Trustees.
  • 1919: In 1919, AUB’s New York Office (NYO) is established at 18 East 41st Street. It shares space with the Near East College Association (NECA), which includes The Constantinople Women’s College and Robert’s College, Constantinople. The office is headed by Albert W. Staub.
  • 1930s: In the 1930s, the AUB NYO shares services and space with the NECA and moves to 50 West 50th Street.
  • 1960s: By the 1960s, the AUB NYO has grown to the point of needing an independent space. NECA changes its name to International Institutional Services (IIS), located at 548 Fifth Avenue. In 1964, AUB moves to its first standalone offices at 555 Fifth Avenue.
  • 1970s: In the early 1970s the NYO is located at 305 East 45th Street. A gas leak explosion caused a fire destroys the office. For the next several years, AUB’s offices are located at 380 Madison Avenue.  
  • 1988 - 2003: The NYO relocates to a larger space at 850 Third Avenue. ‚ÄčIIS (International Institutional Services) is dissolved in the 1990s.  
  • 2003 - present: AUB purchases the condominium at 3 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (aka 305 East 47th Street), and in 2005, it names the New York Office in honor of Dr. Richard A. Debs, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (1995-2005). Eileen F. O’Connor is the first director of the New York Office, the Debs Center. 

AUB Facts & Figures

Facts and Figures: a quick summary.

Fact books are published by the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment (OIRA), AUB.

Facts and Figures 2019 and 2020

Alumni Directories

Directory of Alumni, 1870-1952: Compiled by AUB Alumni Association in 1952. Directory of all graduates between 1870 and 1952. Lists the names of the graduates their class dates, degrees, and more. Click here for more Alumni Directories

Online Directory of AUB Faculty, Staff, and Officers, 1866 - Present.


Nasif al-Yaziji
Nasif al-Yaziji

History Makers: From the Ottoman Empire to the modern Middle East, a sampling of people who made AUB proud.

One Hundred and Fifty