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Medical Diplomacy

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 Letter summoning Dr. Harris Graham to the Ottoman Government Hospital June 1914, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

Fully recognizing the skills of the SPC doctors, and their outstanding training, the Ottoman officials repeatedly requested the assistance of SPC faculty and alumni for medical consultation.The attached letter summons Dr. Harris Graham to the Ottoman Goverment Hospital, by order of an Ottoman Military Court, on June 1914. Throughout the war, the College went to great lengths to dispatch and participate in numerous medical expeditions to local, regional or remote destinations, whenever called upon, or wherever the need made itself felt, and the existing resources allowed: the SPC Medical Faculty also consistently cared for the sick and wounded, at the SPC Hospital or at Relief Centers throughout the country, often on a pro-bono basis. Their medical aid extended to the local population at large, as well as to high ranking Ottoman Officials.


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Portrait of Dr. Arthur Dray, Professor of Dental Surgery, SPC, ca. 1915, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

Many SPC Medical graduates were dispatched to take care of a difficult or a hopeless case, showing the superior medical training they had received. They often succeeded in saving and curing the wounded or the sick, when it was believed that there was no such hope for a cure. They thus gained much deserved praise, and good will with the population as well as with the Ottoman authorities. In one such case, Dr. Dray, a skilled dentist, was called upon and dispatched to Damascus to help treat a difficult wound incurred by a high ranking German official in his jaw. President Dodge recalls this incident: "A very High German Official was fired at by an assassin and his jaw was badly injured. Dr. Dray was summoned to Jerusalem so that he could perform the operation. He left Damascus in a private car. Dr. Dray performed a remarkable operation and saved the official's life. Jamal Pasha was so much pleased that he asked Dr. Dray what he wanted and gladly offered to make it possible for the University to continue its work."

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Portrait of Harris Graham, Professor of Pathology and Medicine ca. 1900, SPC, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

There are many anecdotes recounting the extraordinary help and skill the SPC Doctors extended towards the population of Greater Syria, including Ottoman officials, which won them the personal respect of Jamal Pasha, and which motivated him to protect the College and its academic body from attempts at shutting it down, or at curtailing its activity: Asghar Pasha, an Ottoman official based in Damascus,  fell very ill and all attempts at a cure, led by German and Ottoman doctors dispatched to care for him, failed. Jamal Pasha summoned Doctor Graham from SPC to Damascus to look into the case: Graham immediately diagnosed the disease as malaria and treated the Pasha properly. Jamal Pasha's respect for the College increased, and it determined him to protect the College  and defend its Faculty, students and administration, throughout the War.

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Memorial plaque for 32 Medical Alumni who died during WWI, 1925, Archives and Special Collections, Jafet Library, AUB

It is worth noting that 32 MD members from SPC (Lebanese, Syrian, Armenian, Arab, Greek, or Kurds, European, etc.) perished throughout the war, while on service, or in the military fields.









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Memorial Plaque for 32 MDs who died during WWI (Plaque installed in West Hall, 1925)

In testimony to the courage, humanitarianism, and selflessness of these young graduates, a memorial plaque stands now in West Hall, commomerating their names. Attached are their names, the date they perished, and the place and cause of their death.