Beirut -- October 19, 2020 - The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace announced today the renaming of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut to honor Malcolm H. Kerr, the late American scholar of the Middle East and former president of the American University of Beirut. Henceforth, the center will be known as the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center.
“Renaming the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut to honor Malcolm Kerr is deeply fitting,” said Carnegie President William J. Burns. “Malcolm Kerr’s intellectual honesty, generosity of spirit, and genuine belief in the promise of the region and its people have been an example to many scholars who came after. The Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle East Center will carry on his legacy – continuing to provide a public space for the next generation of Arabs to debate, discuss, and write their own future.”
“My family and I are honored that the Carnegie center in Beirut is being named for Malcolm,” said Ann Kerr, Malcolm’s wife and American University of Beirut trustee emeritus. “The work being done there so closely reflects his hopes for the Arab region where he was born and raised. He would be happy to know that Arab scholars are deeply engaged in thinking about long-term solutions to Arab problems.”
“Malcolm’s visionary work more than half a century ago still serves as an inspiration to many who dream of an Arab world that can rise up to its full potential and develop new political and economic orders, guided by good governance and respect for diversity,” said Marwan Muasher, Vice President for Studies leading the Endowment’s work on the Middle East.
Malcolm H. Kerr was born in 1931 in Beirut, Lebanon, where he spent most of his youth. His parents, Stanley and Elsa Kerr, worked as volunteers for Near East Relief in Aleppo in 1919, helping thousands of Armenians flee genocide. They went on to settle in Beirut, raising their family in the city while working at the American University of Beirut—the same university their son Malcolm would eventually lead. Kerr received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University, before moving back to Lebanon to complete his master’s degree at the American University of Beirut. During that time, he met his future wife, Ann Zwicker, with whom he had four children. He later completed his Ph.D. at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. After obtaining his doctorate, Kerr studied at St. Antony’s College at Oxford and taught at the American University of Beirut, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the American University in Cairo. In 1982, Kerr was appointed president of the American University of Beirut, where he served until his assassination in January 1984.