Jennifer Muller, firstname.lastname@example.org, Office of Communications
This week, the AUB community mourned the loss of Dr. Antoine Khabbaz, founding director of AUB’s Counseling Center. His death prompted a great outpouring of emotion and expressions of appreciation from colleagues and students.
“AUB and our wider community have lost not only a consummate professional, but also a beautiful man,” said Dean of Student Affairs Talal Nizameddin. “He was a rare human being who dedicated his whole life to others.”
A trained psychologist who cared deeply about the students he lived to support, Dr. Khabbaz helped establish the AUB Counseling Center in 2001 and served as its director since that time. He is widely credited with creating a safe, affirming, and unbiased environment that put students at ease and led to more and more students feeling comfortable enough to seek the help they needed. The services of the Counseling Center are free to all current students, who are assured that “no problem is too minor or too major for counseling.”
Throughout his 17 years at AUB, Khabbaz oversaw a considerable expansion in the center’s staff in response to the ever-growing call for its services. Dr. Nizameddin noted that, as the number of students grew at the Counseling Center, Khabbaz and his team faced more intense and complex cases and referred many cases to the Emergency Room, day and night, and are responsible for saving many lives. Nizameddin also explained how Khabbaz helped the Counseling Center become a leader in the region, promoting a progressive approach to student counseling.
“This sophisticated, almost unassuming man would emerge as a giant in his field,” said Nizameddin. “He helped establish critical objectives for the center: to create a safe, discrete space where anything can be discussed in full confidence and without a hint of judgment. Under his leadership the center became a prototype and model for other similar institutions in Lebanon to emulate.”
Antoine Khabbaz received his BA and MA in psychology from France and held two diplomas in practical psychology and higher studies in ethnology and prehistory from Lyon University (1978) as well as a PhD in anthropology from Lyon University (1994). His professional experience outside AUB included clinical psychology work in France, a consultancy in Australia, and a private practice in Beirut.
In a staff profile from 2009, Khabbaz said that he enjoyed working with AUB students, crediting them with being “pleasant, polite, tolerant, and enthusiastic about self-knowledge.” In one of many comments on social media following the announcement of his passing, Director of the MEPI-TL program Hani Hassan said of him: “Very few human beings could well and truly be described as selfless. To my mind, Dr. Antoine Khabbaz would top the list of such rare individuals. He will be sorely missed by 100's (if not 1000's) of students, staff, and faculty.”
Funeral services for Dr. Khabbaz will be held at the Melchite Catholic Church of Our Savior in Monot Street, Beirut, on Wednesday, September 26, at 3:00 pm. Condolences will be accepted at the same church on the same day and on the following Thursday from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm.