The AUB Press is a non-academic office that reports to the Provost of the University. Publications by the Press and its editorial boards are overseen by the University Publication Committee (UPC), a University Senate assigned committee. The reconstruction of the history of publishing at the American University of Beirut (AUB) is an ongoing investigative process. Archival evidence is limited, and many who were familiar with the history of the AUB Press have passed on.
The earliest publication of the Syrian Protestant College (SPC) held in AUB's Nami Jafet Memorial Library was published in 1881; a study in Arabic on the management of disease, written by Dr. John Wortabet, professor of Anatomy and Physiology in the medical school of the Syrian Protestant College. At the time, the SPC had no university press nor a centralized publication office. The earliest publications of the college were published in the name of the college by the American Mission Press, which was founded in Malta in 1822, moved to Beirut in 1832, and operated until 1965. Other publishers produced books for AUB, including the Franciscan Press in Jerusalem and the Catholic Press in Beirut.
There is evidence of a publications committee at AUB from books published in the early 1960s. Another committee was established under the leadership of Vice-President Fuad Sarruf in 1966 to organize several celebratory publications for AUB's centennial celebrations. By 1969, there was a formal centralized publications office, the Office of Publications. Also established in the 1960s was an agreement with Syracuse University in Ithaca, New York to distribute the publications of AUB in Europe and the United States.
From about 1978 to 1985, AUB's Office of Publications was directed by Zahi Khuri with the assistance of Suha Tuqan, both killed during Lebanon's Civil War. It is unclear who managed the publications office until 2001 when Lucy Koons, formerly a production editor at the World Bank, was hired. Koons assembled a small team of office and production managers and freelance copyeditors to handle publications. It was during this time that books began to be published in the name of the AUB Press rather than the more general American University of Beirut name.
In 2004, organizational changes at AUB resulted in a split between the Office of University Publications and the AUB Press. The Office of University Publications, which became the Office of Communications, came under the jurisdiction of the Office of Development and External Relations while the AUB Press, focused on publishing academic research as books, was placed under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Provost. Koons stepped down, and Omar Odeh took over direction of the publications office, with a mandate to support university fundraising efforts, to improve branding and marketing for the university, and to publish AUB's Main Gate magazine.