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Rising Regional Tensions and AUB's Growth: A record enrollment!

MAXIME WEYGAND (1867-1965). Belgian-born French general. Weygand photographed on horseback, c1900..jpg

Maxime Weygand (1867-1965) Belgian-born French general, photographed on horseback

Warfare History Network, University Press of Kentucky

Germany and Itlay form a regional Alliance

In May 1939, Germany and Italy signed a pact of friendship and alliance. Shortly thereafter, General Weygand was sent to Beirut, to organize a large and well equipped army. His Quartier General was close to the campus, and pleasant relationships were formed with many officers in his staff. The Univerisity set a first aid post in the basement of Van Dyck Hall, and the Medical School organized a unit for soldiers in the Univerisity Hospital. The Outpatient Clinic was turned into a convenient hospital unit, with 42 beds and an extra emergency room. War was in the air!


Aerial views of AUB Campus and Bliss Street, 1938-Ph_AUB_1938-3-25_1-19m.jpg

Aerial view of AUB Campus and Bliss Street 1938, Photos taken by French 39th Escadre Aerienne

Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

War Breaks out

"Then the air becomes full of alarms and rumors of war. All of a sudden the people of the East become radio fans...The voices come hourly from Rome and Paris, from Berlin and Prague, from London and Moscow; each more alarming than the other. Mobilization of the British navy is beginning. The local troops in Lebanon prepare to follow suit. French officials are packing their bags and the local government is making plans to move its archives from danger of aeroplane attack. The campus awakes from its lethargy and becomes alive with activity. Motor lorries and mule carts come rumbling through the gate, bringing extra stores, a year's ration for the University and two years' supplies for the Hospital. The Geology room is filled with wheat and one of the Physics rooms with flour. Telegrams are sent to the Egyptian newspapers, to head off students from leaving home, while an effort is made to find substitutes for ten French teachers, eligible for military service."

Report of the President of the American University of Beirut for the Seventy-Third Year, 1938-1939: P. 1

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The American University at Beirut, Syria where Forty Nations have Students.

New York Times, April 2, 1932

The University as a regional Hub

In spite of the war, or perhaps because of it, the University continued to act as a regional hub for students from all over the region. Strategically positioned in Beirut, and with a hefty endowment, AUB continued to attract a multitude of top students from multiple nationalities, as is witnessed by this 1938 New York Times article. Many AUB Professors were sent to Baghdad, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Aleppo, in order to help the students with their travel.



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 AUB 1938-1939 Registration Figures 

Report of the President of the American University of Beirut for the Seventy-Third Year, 1938-1939

Record enrollment

"1938 is the total enrolment figure for the year 1938. It was a surprise to have a record breaking enrollment. It was especially astonishing as the four hundred and nineteen students from Palestine had to risk their lives to reach Beirut."

Report of the President of the American University of Beirut for the Seventy Third Year, 1938-1939: p. 2