The third president to be born in Lebanon, Malcolm Kerr, was born on October 8, 1931 at the American University Hospital. His father Dr. Stanley Kerr was for a long time professor of biochemistry at AUB, and his mother Mrs. Elsa Kerr served for a while as dean of women. He completed high school in the US, then enrolled at Princeton University where he earned a BA in political science.

He returned to Beirut where he continued his studies at AUB receiving an MA in Arab studies in 1955. He returned to the US to further his studies at Johns Hopkins University, and in 1958 received a PhD in international relations. He and his wife, the former Ann C. Zwicker, then returned to Beirut.

Kerr joined AUB as assistant professor at the Department of Political Science. In 1962 he accepted a similar position at the University of California at Los Angeles, and spent the next twenty years at UCLA; he was promoted to the rank of full professor in 1973, and was appointed chairman of the Department of Political Science. He then became dean of the Division of Social Sciences (1973-1976). He returned to the Middle East and spent one year at the American University in Cairo. He became director of the Von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies; he joined the AUB Board of Trustees; and served as director of UCLA's Education Abroad Program Center in Cairo.

Malcolm Kerr was appointed president of AUB in March 1982. Though the term was to take effect as of the first of July, President Kerr was unable to assume his duties in Beirut due to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, so he worked from the New York Office. He eventually arrived in Beirut in September. For the following year and a half Kerr worked diligently at his office in College Hall. He was murdered on January 18, 1984, close to his office.