American University of Beirut

Passing of our esteemed Professor Makhlouf Haddadin

​Dear members of the AUB community,​

It is with a very heavy heart that I write to inform you of the passing of our esteemed Professor Makhlouf Haddadin. A pioneer in the field of organic chemistry, an icon at the American University of Beirut, and a beloved friend and mentor to so many, Dr. Haddadin's loss will reverberate across this campus and around the world for a long time to come.

To say that Makhlouf Haddadin was an institution at the American University of Beirut barely does justice to his myriad contributions to this university and its community over the past six decades. First and foremost, he was an exemplary teacher and mentor, passing on his passion for organic chemistry to generations of AUB students. He was also renowned in the classroom and among colleagues for his humor, modesty, and dedication to his craft, as well as for sharing his love of Arabic history, literature, and poetry. After 57 years, Professor Haddadin taught his last class in spring 2022 and retired just a few short months ago, returning to his native Jordan.

A skilled yet always humble leader, Dr. Haddadin served AUB in numerous administrative capacities and through some of the most difficult years the university has faced. He was vice president for academic affairs from 1987 to 1999 and stepped up to serve as acting president in 1998, 1999, and 2015. In addition, he was acting dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Health Sciences, acting deputy president numerous times, and—lastly—senior advisor to the president from 2015 until his retirement. In that capacity, he shared his unique perspective and provided a wealth of insights for which I am and always will be profoundly grateful.

His achievements in the area of heterocyclic chemistry are no less, if not more, impressive. Chief among these was his co-discovery of the Beirut Reaction with Professor Costas Issidorides in 1965 that made a major impact in the field of pharmaceutical chemistry and led to more than 40 patents around the world. Most recently, he discovered along with Distinguished Professor Mark J. Kurth the Davis-Beirut Reaction, so named in 2011. He is the author of more than 100 scholarly papers published in prestigious international journals and the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, including serving as a member of the Lebanese Academy of Sciences.

Professor Haddadin was born in the village of Ma'in, Jordan on March 21, 1935 and was later awarded a full scholarship from the Jordanian Ministry of Education to attend the American University of Beirut, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in chemistry (BS '57, MS '59). He then attended the University of Colorado at Boulder for his doctorate in organic chemistry (PhD '62). Following post-doctoral work at Harvard University, Dr. Haddadin returned to his alma mater and made it his home. He was invited to numerous prestigious universities for sabbaticals, research leaves, and as a distinguished lecturer, but always returned to AUB, which he considered his university and his home. 

For his outstanding lifetime of service to this institution and for his extraordinary accomplishments as a scientist and educator, Dr. Haddadin was to receive the University Medal—one of AUB's highest honors—to be presented to him at the 2022 Makhlouf Haddadin Symposium on October 6-7 that was planned as a celebration of his life and contributions to the university and the field. Makhlouf's unanimous election by the Board of Trustees to this final honor was announced to him in front of his final chemistry class at AUB.

The symposium will go forward, but will now be held in honor of his memory. The University Medal will be bestowed upon him posthumously and presented to his family. The entire AUB community is encouraged to attend the symposium to pay tribute to this paragon of AUB.

Makhlouf Haddadin's legacy will forever live on at the American University of Beirut. He leaves behind a lifetime of incomparable service as an impactful educator, dedicated mentor, renowned scientist, and beloved colleague.

Alas, the giants cannot forever inhabit this earth. We must learn from them while they give us time. May God Rest his Great Soul.

Best regards,

Fadlo R. Khuri, MD


Office of the President

American University of Beirut​
T +961 1 35 00 00 – Ext 2500

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