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Spring 2018 marks 15 years since AUB bought property in New York City and relocated its New York Office to the Debs Center, a state-of-the-art facility located at 3 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. Named in honor of Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus Richard A. Debs, PhD (AUB Board Chair 1994-2005, trustee since 1976), the Debs Center houses the university’s executive and advancement offices, hosts university Board meetings, and most recently, has become a center for showcasing AUB professors’ on-the-ground research from the Arab world.
With the installation of new audio/video systems, the Debs Center now hosts live video exchanges called NY-Beirut Briefings
. Professors, students and guests in both New York City and the AUB campus are linked via video for presentations and roundtable discussions. Alumni and friends around the world join via live stream
. The Debs Center has also hosted talks during the UN General Assembly, book signings, and AUB professors, students and alumni visiting New York City.
Chairman Emeritus Debs was the inspiration behind acquiring a permanent New York office for the university. His long career in public service and business, and his knowledge of the Middle East, together with his long tenure as a trustee and chairman, have made him an invaluable leader and supporter of AUB. Dr. Debs is also a lawyer, banker, public servant, advisor to governments, philanthropist, student of Islamic law, and published author. He is an advisory director of Morgan Stanley, having been the founding president of Morgan Stanley International, which he joined after being the COO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He graduated summa cum laude from Colgate University, and holds an MA and a PhD from Princeton, where he was a Ford Foundation Fellow. A member of the New York Bar, he is a graduate of the Harvard Law School as well as the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Egypt, where he subsequently held a joint Harvard-Princeton research fellowship on Islamic law. He has been decorated by the governments of Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, and in 2005, he received a Doctor of Humane Letters from AUB.
AUB’s founding charter from the State of New York was registered in 1863, and the college opened its doors on December 3, 1866.
Since AUB’s inception, the university has had a presence in North America, either operating out of the chairman’s house or shared rental spaces in New York City, but it wasn’t until 2003 that it had its own offices. The Debs Center’s latest programming has facilitated collaborations with other academic institutions in the United States. Future programs will connect professors, alumni, and friends of AUB who are in North America and strengthen the link between AUB in North America and the campus in Beirut.
New York Office Timeline
- Before 1919, University affairs in New York City are conducted out of the offices of the chairman of the Board of Trustees.
- 1919: In 1919, AUB’s New York Office (NYO) is established at 18 East 41st Street. It shares space with the Near East College Association (NECA), which includes The Constantinople Women’s College and Robert’s College, Constantinople. The office is headed by Albert W. Staub.
- 1930s: In the 1930s, the AUB NYO shares services and space with the NECA and moves to 50 West 50th Street.
- 1960s: By the 1960s, the AUB NYO has grown to the point of needing an independent space. NECA changes its name to International Institutional Services (IIS), located at 548 Fifth Avenue. In 1964, AUB moves to its first standalone offices at 555 Fifth Avenue.
- 1970s: In the early 1970s the NYO is located at 305 East 45th Street. A gas leak explosion caused a fire destroys the office. For the next several years, AUB’s offices are located at 380 Madison Avenue.
- 1988 - 2003: The NYO relocates to a larger space at 850 Third Avenue. IIS (International Institutional Services) is dissolved in the 1990s.
- 2003 - present: AUB purchases the condominium at 3 Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (aka 305 East 47th Street), and in 2005, it names the New York Office in honor of Dr. Richard A. Debs, Chairman of the Board of Trustees (1995-2005). Eileen F. O’Conno