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Exodus Won't Close Beirut Campus

April 23, 1986|From Reuters

BEIRUT — The 120-year-old American University of Beirut will keep going despite the exodus of most of its foreign staff, university officials said today.

"We have passed through worse times. We will survive and continue functioning," university spokesman Radwan Mawlawi said.

AUB, long one of the most influential universities in the Arab world, has received severe blows in the last few days.

American librarian Peter Kilburn and British political science teacher Leigh Douglas were killed along with another British hostage following U.S. air raids on Libya.

At least 25 of its staff members were among about 50 foreigners evacuated from Muslim West Beirut this week for fear of more anti-Western attacks.

Mawlawi said "not less than 10 foreigners, including American and British," remain at AUB, whose tree-lined campus recently became a virtual prison for its foreign staff.

He said the university, with 500 faculty members and 5,000 students, plans to hire new teachers to replace those who left.

He said of the departed foreign teachers, "They are more Lebanese than lots of Lebanese. They are dedicated to the university and they feel cut off from their roots here."

Two American members of the staff, AUB Hospital Director David Jacobsen and Dean of Agriculture Thomas Sutherland, were abducted separately in mid-1985 and were still missing today.

The Islamic Jihad group said it kidnaped them, and also claimed responsibility for killing AUB President Malcolm Kerr in his campus office in 1984.

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