chapter  3
14 Pages

The American University of Beirut

The American University of Beirut celebrated its centenary in 1966. A hundred years is a substantial period in the life of any institution and to have survived, and thrived, for a whole century is something worth celebrating. But our habit of reckoning in centuries, useful and convenient as it is, can also be highly misleading; for to adapt a wellknown aphorism, though all centuries are equal, yet some centuries are more equal than others. The century which has elapsed since the foundation of the university is broken up by so many revolutionary upheavals in the conditions of middle-eastern life that the centuries preceding it seem to us by comparison a flat and monotonous expanse in which the interval say between 1566 and 1666 is no more than a mere arithmetical fact. This last century saw the tempo of middleeastern history accelerating prodigiously. Institutions like the American University, which helped to give its impetus to this radical change, and in the process saw themselves altered beyond recognition, are eminently worthy of the historian's attention; and it is very much to be hoped that an able historian will be encouraged soon to study the abundant materials which have no doubt survived and to do justice to this important, indeed gripping subject.