This is the story of the Lewis Affair at the American University of Beirut (then the Syrian Protestant College). When Professor Edwin Lewis mentioned Charles Darwin in the course of a commencement address, there were drastic ramifications, including faculty resignations, student suspensions, the first student protest in the Arab World, a subsequent drop in student enrollment, and the imposition of a Declaration of Principles on AUB faculty members. It represents a momentous event in the history of the American University of Beirut, and its reverberations were felt in intellectual circles throughout the Arab world. A foreword by former AUB president John Waterbury outlines how the issues underlying the Lewis Affair, including the controversy generated by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, the struggle between conservative and liberal elements of academia, and the question of academic freedom, remain pertinent to this day.
AUB's 125th anniversary celebrations in 1992 coincided with the beginnings of Lebanon's return to peace after sixteen years of civil war, throughout which AUB continued to function. This book is a special anniversary tribute to the founders of the university, originally the Syrian Protestant College, who laid the foundations on which the college could grow and develop into one of the leading institutions of higher education in the Middle East. The book documents seven of the original faculty: Daniel Bliss, the first president; David Stuart Dodge; Edwin R. Lewis; Harvey Porter; George E. Post; Cornelius Van Dyck; and John Wortabet. Sections in English and Arabic include speeches, official papers, letters, and articles – some contemporary, others more recent – that demonstrate the values and principles these founding fathers sought to put into practice.