Bayard Dodge was born to a wealthy family in New York City in 1883.  He was sent to a private school for his elementary education; then he enrolled in Princeton University, where he received a BA in 1909. He continued his studies at Columbia University where he earned an MA in 1913; he then entered Union Theological Seminary where he received a Doctor of Divinity degree but he was never ordained.

He came to Beirut in 1913 to assume the responsibilities of director of West Hall, at that time under construction with funds supplied in part by his father. West Hall was completed in 1914, the same year Dodge married Mary Bliss, daughter of Howard Bliss, whom he had previously met at a gathering in connection with the College. In 1920 the Syrian Protestant College became the American University of Beirut that we know today.
The inauguration of Dodge as third president was held on June 28, 1923, after Commencement exercises. In 1948 Dodge retired, having served AUB for twenty-five years. And served he did; he chose to receive no salary and whatever monies he donated to the University were always registered anonymously.

President Dodge was a modest, unpretentious man; who focused on the good qualities in people. One of the prominent graduates of the late 1920's, at an Alumni reunion, had this to say about him: "President Dodge taught us this: Trust in God, and do what's right". This was Dodge's credo. He was steadfast during the difficult times of World War II; he and Mrs. Dodge always set a good example of being benevolent and helpful. In recognition of his work, both in peace and in war, Occidental University awarded him the Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree. Lebanon and other countries decorated him with medals of distinction for his dedication to his work.