AUB commemorates the 25th year since the passing of Ex-President Malcolm Kerr.
Summary: Members of the AUB community gathered on Monday January 19 to commemorate the 25th anniversary for the assassination of the ninth president of AUB, Dr. Malcolm Hooper Kerr, who was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his College Hall office on January 18, 1984.
AUB commemorates the 25th year since the passing of Ex-President Malcolm Kerr
Members of the AUB community gathered on Monday January 19 to commemorate the 25th anniversary for the assassination of the ninth president of AUB, Dr. Malcolm Hooper Kerr, who was shot dead by unknown assailants outside his College Hall office on January 18, 1984.
AUB President Peter Dorman placed a bouquet of flowers on the Kerr Memorial Stone, outside College Hall, where Kerr's ashes rest, under the sheltering branches of the huge and historic banyan tree.
Dorman called on everyone to observe a few moments of silence in memory of a "tragedy that affected all our lives."
He also read a passage from Susan van de Ven's book, One Family's Response to Terrorism: A Daughter's Memoir, which was written by Kerr's daughter.
The passage recounted van de Ven's day "before the world changed for good," because of her father's assassination. Van de Van was then living in Taiwan with her husband, Hans, and received a phone call two hours after her father's untimely death.
During memorial service for Kerr's death in 1984, his wife, Ann, read a statement in which she highlighted her husband's faith in the University.
"But, for his death to have any meaning at all, it must be to leave a legacy for this university and for Lebanon." Ann Kerr had written. "It was his fervent wish that all students at AUB put their loyalty to their university before their loyalty to their political and religious backgrounds; that they work together for the common good of AUB; study hard, play hard, and leave the university well prepared to become mature, liberally educated, public minded citizens of their own countries. It is only such people who can help to bridge the deep cultural misunderstandings that led to my husband's death."
Malcolm Kerr was born in 1931 in the American University hospital. His father was a professor of chemistry at the University; his mother served briefly as dean of students. After secondary school in the United States, he took his BA in international relations at Princeton University. After MA studies at AUB he continued at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, where he received his PhD in 1958.
After three years of teaching in the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration at AUB, Kerr taught for almost twenty years at the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies and the Department of Political Science, but during those years he taught and researched frequently in the Arab world -- in Cairo, Beirut, and North Africa. Kerr's brief tenure as president of AUB began in 1982. He was killed by an unknown assassin on 18 January 1984 in front of his office in College Hall.
Kerr's body was cremated, and the ashes were buried under the banyan tree on campus. A memorial plaque was placed at the burial site, and a letter from his children was preserved in a glass encasement near his tomb. The letter read: "Dear Dad, We are proud of you and glad you came to AUB."
2009 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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