President's Speech - Ghassan Tueni

Dr. John Waterbury's Speech
Introducing Ghassan Tueni 
June 25, 2005

There is something of the patriarch in Ghassan Tueni, and I use that term in its positive sense. He is someone of unparalleled experience, deep wisdom, a memory that is not only long but crowded with the keen observations of an unblinking political, social, and cultural eye. He has been an entrepreneur, a scholar, a diplomat, a politician, a journalist, a writer, a university president, and a patron of the arts. He speaks English with assurance and flourish, French with all the nuance that the language demands, and Arabic - well every Monday his article in An-Nahar is awaited by thousands not only for its content but perhaps above all for its style and playfulness.

An-Nahar newspaper was founded in 1933 by Ghassan Tueni's father, Gibran, a self-taught former printer's apprentice and news vendor inspired by Lebanon's struggle for independence. Ghassan Tueni became editor of An-Nahar in 1948 and went on to become its Director General. He attended IC, section française, then went on to a BA in philosophy at AUB, graduating in 1945, and an MA at Harvard in 1947. He joined the faculty of AUB as a lecturer in political science during the years 1947 and 1948.

His career has involved simultaneous, not successive callings, combining politics, public service, and journalism. He became a member of the Lebanese parliament between 1951 and 1957 and for most of that period was deputy speaker. In the early 1970s he served as deputy prime minister, minister of information, and minister of education. In the middle 1970s he served as minister of labor and social affairs, minister of industry and petroleum, and minister of tourism.

As the civil strife developed in Lebanon, he became ambassador and permanent representative of Lebanon to the United Nations from 1977 to 1982, then he became diplomatic counselor to the President of the Republic between 1982 and 1985.

His role in academic life has been equally impressive. He was cofounder and lecturer at the Lebanese Academy of Law and Political Science, and first president of the University of Balamand from 1990 to 1993. He is, as well, a patron of the arts. He is the former vice-president of the National Heritage Foundation and current president of the Board of the Sursock Museum. In the midst of all this, he has found time to write and publish extensively on the affairs of Lebanon and the Middle East.

Ghassan Tueni served as a member of the Board of Trustees of AUB from 1988 to 2002, and he has been trustee emeritus since then.