AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

AUB's 75th Anniversary

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Program of the Seventy Fifth Anniversary Assembly, December 7, 1941

Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

A low Key 75th Anniversary

On Sunday morning, December 7,1941, a special service was held in the chapel of the American University of Beirut. Alumni and their wives were specially invited, and a large crowd was present to witness the academic procession which opened the formal celebration of the institution's seventy-fifth anniversary. In the University museum a great collection of relics, records and photographs illustrating the past three-quarters of a century was on display. After the ceremonies a reception was held in West Hall. The chapel service emphasized the history of the University as an educational institution and particularly as a spiritual force. Dean Julius Arthur Brown read aloud the famous article of President Howard Bliss, "The Mod­ern Missionary." Professor Anis Khuri, head of the Ara­bic department, gave in Arabic selections from old commemorative poems, written for past occasions. A letter of congratulation from the American Consul-General, Mr. C. Van H. Engert, was read.

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An article on AUB's Seventy-Fifth Anniversary

Near East Service Quarterly November 1941, v.2, no. 3, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB


Accomplishments of the University: The Opinions of a sample of Students and Teachers.

On January 1, 1941, the American University of Beirut, founded as tbe Syrian Protestant College in 1866, entered its 75th year of life. "What do you think is the greatest accomplishment (or, if you wish, the three or four greatest accomplishments) of this University in the past 74 years? What is your dream or wish for the University on its 100th anniversary in 1966?" In December, these questions were asked for a number of people here, and the following answers were received.

AI-Kulliyah Review, VOL. VIII January 1941 Special Number 


Constantine Zurayk, in his mid to late 20s, ca. 1920s

Private Photo Collection.

Professor Charles Malik

It is difficult to determine the greatest accomplishment of the University in the past. But I believe that one of its greatest accomplishment is certainly the development of the Medical School to its present state of perfection. Thanks partly to the activity of this school in the past we can all feel reasonably sure now that good care can be taken of our body when it ceases to function properly.

My dream for the University on its 100th anniversary in 1966 is that it will be doing then as fine a job for our spirit as it has done for our body. The spiritual, cultural and intellectual side of the program of the University is still much undeveloped. Not before the truth and the things of the spirit fully come to their own in our midst may we properly call ourselves a University.


Professor Costi Zurayk

1. The greatest accomplishment of the University in the past 74 years is its cultivation in the personalities of not a few of its graduates of qualities of self-respect, moral courage, and a fine sense of honor coupled with the realization
of the importance in life of independent thinking and unflinching service of a higher ideal.

2. A community of men and women superior in their intellect and spirit, united by a common ideal greater and higher than themselves, an ideal in the attainment of which they find fulfilment of their hopes, the consummation of their struggle for the highest and best in life.


Charles Malik standing, with Constantine Zurayk to his right, ca. 1950s

Private photo collection

 Fayez Sayegh (Senior)

The greatest achievement of this University is that, having faced the desperate need of this country for doctors, pharmacists, engineers, etc., it turned its attention to the deeper needs of the spirit. It thus gave an opportunity for a few
of its students to care for their spiritual concerns, and to face their perplexing existential questions, not with an irresponsible romanticism, but from within the tradition of western philosophic thought, which is at once the basis and the glory
of western civilization.

My hope for the future is that the duality of "instruction" vs. "education", of "professional" vs. "liberal" studies, be completely done away with, by making it the aim of this institution to develop "men" rather than to manufacture "students" and "specialists". And by "men", I mean people who realize their humanity not in one of its sides at the expense of the others, but by a harmonious synthesis of all its sides: physical, ethical and spiritual (artistic, scientific and philosophical).

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Leila Tannous Dawton (1924-2013) began as a newsreader in the BBC’s Arabic Service in 1947

British tribute to Leila Tannous:

 Leila Tannous (Senior)

The greatest achievement of the University is that it succeeded in spreading a spark of free thinking and science, in this part of the world, during a time when free thinking and science were suppressed by different forces and ignorance bad a free land.
My dream for the University is that it "will become a center to which all the Arabic world will turn for strength and inspiration.”