The American University of Beirut first enrolled students in 1866,  starting a long tradition of colleges accredited in the United States providing students from the Middle East with opportunities for an American-style education in their own region.
AUB's president and the leaders of three institutions with similar missions were in Washington last week to discuss their institutions with government officials and the press. They reflected on their universities' growth, the impact of 9/11, and the changing educational environment in the region they serve. The four presidents are:
- David Arnold,  president of American University in Cairo, which was founded in 1919  and is currently in the process of building a new campus.  Arnold formerly was executive vice president of the Institute of International Education.
- Joseph G. Jabbra,  president of Lebanese American University, which originally was a school for girls and started college programs in 1924.  Jabbra was formerly academic vice president at Loyola Marymount University.
- Winfred L. Thompson, chancellor of the American University of Sharjah,  which was founded in 1997 in the United Arab Emirates. Thompson was formerly president of the University of Central Arkansas.
- John Waterbury,  who last month announced that he would retire as president of American University of Beirut at the end of the 2007-8 academic year, after 10 years in office. Waterbury was the first president of the university able to live in Beirut since the Lebanese civil war. Waterbury was formerly a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University.