Like all premier institutions of higher learning, the American University of Beirut (AUB) relies on the generosity of its alumni and friends. Unlike some of these institutions, however, AUB would not exist without generous donor support. Our first president, Daniel Bliss, traveled extensively in the United States and England between 1862 and 1866 to raise funds for a $100,000 endowment so that the Syrian Protestant College (as AUB was known until 1920) could begin operation.
Frances Copeland made the first legacy gift to our university: £200 in 1870. We don't know very much about her but there is a good chance that she heard about the Syrian Protestant College from Daniel Bliss himself when he was in England in the mid-1860s. Other legacy gifts quickly followed including $25,000 from New York resident Sarah Burr in 1882 to support “indigent students." Many of these early bequests were modest amounts of money. Some of the college's especially generous benefactors also included the Syrian Protestant College in their wills, most notably William E. Dodge. He and his wife made the first two donations that Daniel Bliss ever received ($15,000 and $10,000 in 1863) and supported many other important initiatives during their lifetimes.
It is the enduring connection that our alumni and friends feel for AUB that make it such a special place. It is that same connection that leads some of them to make provisions to support AUB after they pass away. It is almost as if they consider AUB a member of the family. Many of us who work at AUB today feel the same way.
We've asked some of our donors who have made provisions for AUB in their wills to tell us why they give to AUB. We wanted to share some of these stories with you.