American Univesity of Beirut

AUB students and faculty remember Dr. Ghazi Sirhan

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Safa Jafari Safa, Office of Communications,​

The university community mourns the passing of one of its most dedicated professors, economics professor Ghazi Sirhan, who served AUB from 1970 to 2017. Dr. Sirhan was relentlessly committed to teaching, as he witnessed with the university some of the country’s darkest years, and worked with the institution to graduate generations of leaders worldwide. 

"In his 47 years of service at AUB, Dr. Ghazi Sirhan taught thousands of students,” said Dr. Nadia El Cheikh, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “By making the Department of Economics his second home, even during the country’s most trying times, he effectively turned Ada Dodge’s hallways into an extended classroom; the learning experience continued into every conversation and encounter with students and colleagues."

After receiving his bachelor’s (’58) and master’s (’61) degrees from AUB, Sirhan continued to study at North Carolina State University for his PhD in economics, which he received in 1969. Immediately after, his Alma Mater, AUB, would be his second home for the remaining of his life, the AUB community his family.

He served as associate professor between 1970 and 2003, and continued part-time until the spring term or 2016-17, focusing his expertise on microeconomic theory, income distribution and welfare economics, macroeconomics and monetary theory, and international trade theory and policy.

He taught more than ten different courses in the Department of Economics and chaired the Economics Department for a total of 12 years, initiating new courses during that time, in addition to many other terms as acting chair.

He was elected to the University Senate more than once and served as Senate representative to the Board of Trustees.  He was also a member of the Arts and Sciences Curriculum and Graduate Committees and served on the Advisory Committee charged with setting up the curriculum for the Institute of Money and Banking (now the Institute of Financial Economics) at the request of the late AUB President Malcolm Kerr.

“The Department of Economics mourns the loss of one of its pillars and most faithful and dedicated citizens,” said Dr. Rabih Sultan, acting chair of Economics, in his statement to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences commemorating Dr. Sirhan’s dedication and achievements and presenting testimonials praising him by colleagues and students. “As one colleague faculty member put it, addressing his memory: ‘AUB was your whole life until the last breath.’”   

Dr. Sirhan was a prominent economist with distinctive presence on the regional and international scenes. He is the recipient of many grants and fellowships from establishments such as the Mellon Foundation, Fulbright, Japan Foundation, and Ford Economic Fellowship. He also published a number of research papers in professional journals and has co-authored a monograph on “the Elasticity of Substitution Approach to Foreign Demand for the United States.”  

The Economics Students Society described Dr. Sirhan’s passing as “an event that left the AUB economics students speechless,” holding a memorial to honor Dr. Sirhan’s dedication and love to his students. The society had issued a statement describing Dr. Sirhan as “one of the best teachers, as he portrays excellence in economics,” and a vivid example of “mastery of teaching economics.” Alumni worldwide wrote about their cherished memories of the professor who, through his passion, made them love attending his courses.

“For the 47 years between 1970 and 2017, scarcely a school day went by without Professor Sirhan tirelessly walking up the steps to the third floor of Ada Dodge Hall that is the Economics Department … rarely did he stick to the confines of a textbook, a classroom, or an academic discipline in the hundreds of courses and thousands of students he taught. ‘Teaching keeps me alive,’ he would confess to his junior colleagues,” stated faculty members in the Department of Economics in their issued statement commemorating Dr. Sirhan, also referring to the pedagogy, relevance, candor, and humor in their senior colleague’s conversations. 

“His teaching will indeed keep him alive, in the generations of students around the world who still recall his classroom anecdotes that brought in history, politics, and current affairs to liven up intermediate price theory, in the memory of the Ada Dodge hallway that will forever echo his absence, and in the future of our young department faculty who will never forget his continuous effort at forging a departmental community.”

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