Giving to LAU


Archiving a City’s Legacy

LAU has had a campus in the Byblos hills since 1991. Thanks to a recent donation, it now has a presence in Byblos’ historical city - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - too.

On February 21, the Cardahi family announced they had donated the premises of the Louis Cardahi Museum and Foundation to the university. Comprising a beautiful stone house and surrounding land with extensive views of Byblos, the Cardahi grounds and mission will now be under LAU’s charge.

“Tonight is a very exciting night because two institutions are coming together to pursue most noble causes,” said LAU President Dr. Joseph G. Jabbra at a donation ceremony held on the Byblos campus. “The Louis Cardahi Foundation has long been dedicated to education and to the pursuit of knowledge about our beloved Lebanon.”

A slideshow presentation by LAU graphic design student Joyce Khalifeh provided the audience with the foundation’s history, giving a glimpse of the premises and the treasures they house.

Born in Byblos in 1929, Louis Cardahi was an engineer who founded the Entreprise de Bâtiments et de Travaux Publics. His passion for preserving his home city’s history, architecture and culture led him to co-found the Cultural Council of the Jbeil (Byblos) Region.

Cardahi was committed to the social, cultural and economic development of Byblos, said his son, former Telecommunications Minister Jean-Louis. He noted that his father initiated and financed the building of Byblos’ first secondary school in the 1960s, believing that an “educated and cultured youth would contribute positively in establishing a pluralistic and tolerant civil society.”

The museum and foundation were set up in his memory by his wife Mona Chucri Eduen, Jean-Louis and daughter Suzy following his death in 1992. They were established to promote Byblos’ history and further Cardahi’s belief that “an educated and cultured youth would contribute positively in setting up the basis of a pluralistic and tolerant civil society,” his son told the audience.

The foundation holds a number of historical artifacts, artworks and documentary films about Byblos. The premises also boast a small library with over 1,500 works charting the city’s historical evolution. “It has encouraged heritage conservation and has made everything available to visitors,” said Jean-Louis.

As part of the agreement, LAU will persevere with the foundation’s efforts to promote respect for Byblos’ architectural, cultural and historical legacy.

A governing board comprised of five LAU representatives and two Cardahi family representatives will be established to oversee the foundation’s strategic planning. LAU will provide the budget and the human resources, involving financial aid students, to run daily operations. Students from the School of Architecture and Design or from the School of Arts and Sciences’ Humanities department will also have the opportunity to do internships at the museum.

“We commit to be indefatigable in our efforts to ensure that the foundation will continue to grow, expand and benefit our community, our youth and our beloved Lebanon,” said Jabbra.

Jean-Louis Cardahi expressed his hope that the LAU Louis Cardahi Foundation, as it will now be known, would continue to encourage young Lebanese to respect their country’s vibrant heritage. “After all, culture is what remains when we have forgotten what we learned in the classroom,” he said.