Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals

2005 Recipients

Dr. Wadahh Nasr, Lebanon
Ph.D., Philosophy and Political Theory (1975)

Dr. NasrDr. Wadahh Nasr is a distinguished alumnus of the College of Liberal Arts, Department of Philosophy, at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Nasr graduated with a Ph.D. in philosophy in 1975. While in Minnesota, he was active in various student organizations, including the Minnesota International Student Association, the Arab Club. and the Minnesota International Center.

Dr. Nasr is the associate provost of the American University of Beirut, a position he has held since 1999. During the civil war in Lebanon, from its beginnings in 1975 until 1990, Dr. Nasr was the chairperson of the Department of Philosophy and director of the cultural studies program. He was one of the few faculty members who remained in Beirut during the entire period-a period during which the university's president Malcolm Kerr was assassinated. Dr. Nasr's position brought him into regular confrontations with extremist students and placed him in a position of defending other moderate faculty members.

After 1990, Dr. Nasr traveled widely in the Middle East and Europe to help restore the image of the university. As the associate provost in charge of accreditation, he was faced with the dilemma that Lebanon continued to be on the U.S. State Department's travel warning list. Consequently, accreditation committee members refused to travel to Beirut to conduct evaluation interviews. Dr. Nasr responded by organizing a five-day marathon of video conferencing that resulted in accreditation.

Dr. Nasr's academic and administrative leadership at the American University is one reason the institution continues to flourish today. Together with other courageous colleagues, he took a position that demanded personal courage and a commitment to academic excellence and integrity even in the most dire of circumstances. He has also been a pioneer in raising consciousness regarding medical ethics and bioethics, both at the American University and in Lebanon as a whole. He is currently a member of the Lebanese National Advisory Committee on Biomedical Ethics and teaches courses on biomedical and environmental ethics.

In addition, Dr. Nasr has worked with Lebanese governmental committees on the drafting of a new law for degree equivalency and has been a member of numerous educational committees with colleagues from other universities both in the Middle East and Europe.

In naming Dr. Nasr a recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals, the selection committee cited his personal leadership and courage in the face of extremism, his commitment to excellence in education in all circumstances, and his contributions to the field of ethics. Dr. Nasr's contributions to the American University of Beirut as both a teacher and an administrator have served as an inspiration to his colleagues well beyond Lebanon.