American University of Beirut

 A Family Reunion in Lebanon

​​​​​​Hundreds of people visit the AUB campus each year. Some are curious to see a university that is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful in the world. For others, a visit to AUB is like coming home. That was the case for the members of the Dodd and Cruikshank families who visited AUB in summer 2019. Twenty-two of them—“or was it twenty-three," says Frances Dodd, “I'm not sure"—visited campus at one point or another as part of an extended visit to Lebanon that included a month at an Airbnb in Shemlan.

Frances is the daughter of Professors Peter and Erica Dodd who both taught at AUB from 1965 to 1985. (You can read a wonderful interview with Peter and Erica Dodd in MainGate magazine.) Frances and her sister, Kika Dodd Verkerk, who also visited Lebanon with her two sons (Nicholas and Stuart) this past summer, grew up in Lebanon. So too did their parents, their uncle, Bruce Dodd (who is Peter Dodd's brother), and aunt, Anne Cruikshank Colvin (who is Erica Dodd's sister). Erica and Anne's father was Dr. W. Douglas Cruikshank, who was a professor of surgery at AUB from 1920 until 1938, when he left to work in Baghdad. His family remained in the family home he built on the AUB campus until 1952. Peter and Bruce's father was Stuart Dodd, who was a professor of sociology at AUB from 1927 to 1946.

Despite the many changes that have taken place at AUB over the years, the campus looked very familiar to Frances and her family. “The campus was very much as I remembered it—but a lot more crowded," says Bruce Dodd. The group did have some trouble finding the house that Dr. Cruikshank built though. “We thought we had identified the house from photos that Sana Murad, who was extremely helpful throughout our visit, sent us. The people living in the house now very graciously agreed to let us visit 'our' home. When we arrived, we realized that we were at the wrong place," remembers Frances. They did eventually find the right house—just below the Observatory. It is now home to AUB's Center for Arts and Humanities. “It was wonderful to see the building so unchanged from when we lived there," Anne Colvin remembers. 

Another highlight of their visit to campus was meeting Dr. Leila Badre and touring the AUB Museum where Anne had assisted Dorothy MacKay, who was the curator of the museum at the time, in 1950. “The Archaeology Museum is terrific—as much for its collection and display as for the internationally significant research that Leila Badre and her colleagues have conducted," says Kika. They also visited the AUB Beach and swam in the Mediterranean.

Although they made multiple trips to campus, Bruce did not manage to see everything he was hoping to see: “Malcolm [Kerr] and I had some favorite hide-outs on campus when we were growing up that I did not get a chance to explore." He remembers one in particular that led from campus under the tramline outside the Medical Gate to the hospital.

Associate Vice President for Advancement Services Soha Hmaidan, Visitors Bureau Manager Sana Murad, and her team at the AUB Visitors Bureau love welcoming people to campus. “It's especially great when we hear from people in advance—as we did in the case of Frances and her family—so we can make whatever arrangements are necessary," says Soha.

Now back in Vancouver, Canada, Frances is already planning her next visit—and urges others to do the same. “My message to anyone considering a similar journey to Lebanon would be one of encouragement: don't worry too much in advance about logistics, or try to prepare every detail, it will work out." Kika agrees—and gives a lot of credit to the world-famous Lebanese welcome. “I was hugely impressed by the hospitality and warmth shown to all of us," she says.

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