Re-dedication of “green” Penrose Hall celebrates life and legacy of former AUB president

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On September 3, 2019, the American University of Beirut re-dedicated Penrose Hall, one of two men's residences on campus, named for AUB's fourth president, Dr. Stephen B.L. Penrose, Jr., who served from 1948 to 1954. Board of Trustees Chairman Philip Khoury, members of the AUB Board of Trustees, President Fadlo Khuri, senior AUB officials, and past Penrose Award winners were among the attendees. Three members of the Penrose family traveled to Beirut to attend this ceremony: the former president's daughter, Dale Penrose Harrell; son, Stephen Penrose, III; and granddaughter, Katherine Penrose.

During his remarks, Chairman Philip Khoury spoke about the enduring legacy of Penrose, highlighting his many accomplishments at a time of tremendous growth and change at the university. While he was AUB president, for example, Dr. Salwa Nassar, a Lebanese nuclear physicist, joined AUB as the first woman faculty member at AUB. The university also added three new faculties: engineering in 1951, agriculture in 1952 (along with a farm in the Beqaa valley), and public health in 1954. “Although his tenure as AUB president was brief—just six years—the list of milestone achievements during Dr. Penrose's presidency is long," said Khoury.

President Khuri noted​ that in addition to Penrose Hall, the Penrose name is also associated with “the most prestigious student award that we bestow each year." The Penrose Award is given to a graduating student in each faculty in recognition of outstanding scholarship, character, leadership, and contribution to university life. Although it carries no monetary reward, it is one of the most coveted awards given to graduating students. Khuri extended a special welcome to the dozens of Penrose Award recipients in the audience. “I am proud to say that my father received the Penrose Award on two occasions: when he earned his undergraduate degree in 1955 and again in 1959 when he received his MD degree." ​

Dr. Stephen Penrose spoke on behalf of the family and said of the Penrose Award that it celebrated values that his father treasured: character, leadership, and service. He noted that students who were selected to receive the award “have done something truly extraordinary and inspiring." Penrose spoke also about how meaningful it was to be back on campus after so many years and described AUB as a “monument to educational excellence in the region and the world." Adding that, “My father loved AUB."

The first “green" dorm on campus

The eight-story renovated Penrose Hall includes 106 rooms for 266 students, including six rooms that are ADA compliant for students with special needs. The rejuvenated dormitory also features shared spaces such as study areas, TV lounges, outside gardens, and extensive landscaping. “We are especially proud—as we should be, that we have received LEED gold standard certification for Penrose Hall," said President Khuri.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards are the most widely used green building rating system in the world and the new Penrose Hall has many features that will reduce energy costs, minimize the building's impact on microclimate and human and wildlife habitat, and reduce the heat island effect. The president congratulated Senior Director of Facilities Bassem Barhoumi and the team at AUB's Facilities Planning and Design Unit for completing the Penrose Hall renovation project “on time and under budget."

Commenting on the success of this project, Associate Vice President for Administration and Chief of Staff Mary Jaber Nachar said, “The renovation of Penrose Hall is a true example of what collective efforts and collaborations can achieve. This is one of many milestones in our campus master plan for a more sustainable and vibrant campus. Securing the LEED gold standard certification was the ultimate reward for the involved teams and a validation of all their hard work."​

The re-dedication event ended with a video that documented the transformation of Penrose Hall from a men's residence hall that, in the words of Khuri, “had begun to show significant signs of deterioration" to an environmentally friendly and energy efficient building. Barhoumi and members of his team then led tours of Penrose Hall, which reopened to AUB students this fall.​​

Pictures, videos and 360 views​ from Penrose Hall renovation are available on the FPD​U website.