Giving to LAU


Suad Joseph Establishes Endowments for Gender Research


LAU’s Arab Institute for Women will be able to expand its gender research activity thanks to Suad Joseph, Distinguished Research Professor of Anthropology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of California–Davis.

Her donation coincides with AIW’s 50th anniversary, upholding its long legacy of inquiry on gender and women’s issues.

Two endowed funds of $75,000 and $25,000 will support research by graduate and undergraduate students, respectively.

The benefit to students is incalculable. “Research teaches critical thinking and problem solving,” said Joseph. “How do you make a case for a question that is significant and should be solved, and how do you find a credible way of going about solving it?” she added.

Joseph underscores that the history of women and their achievements in the Middle East is often simplified or ignored. “There has been, broadly speaking, at least a twofold relation to women in the Middle East,” she said. “One is the relation to patriarchy and gender hierarchy; but there also exists a huge history of feminism in the Arab region. Lebanon in the past had a very high proportion of educated women and of women in education,” she said.

LAU played an important role in this respect, as it started off as a women’s college and pioneered women’s studies by establishing an institute in 1973. Joseph’s support and trust is a nod to that history. “I’ve been incredibly impressed by the leadership at the Arab Institute for Women,” she said, commending the staff she has met over the years. “They do their jobs with grace, dignity and care. I am also so impressed by the support they have from LAU’s president, Dr. Michel Mawad,” she said.

“We have for much too long in our region relied on knowledge built outside the region by Europeans, North Americans and others,” said Joseph, welcoming the opportunity to train our own scholars to “decolonize knowledge production” and “build our own knowledge and theory about the region.”

Joseph deeply believes in education and the need to give back. She and her six brothers and sisters all became engineers, physicists, educators and businesspeople thanks in part to the generosity of others. “From elementary school until the graduate level, I found teachers, mentors and business leaders who took an interest in me and my siblings and helped us to reach our goals,” she said, noting that scholarships and endowments are necessary to meet the rising cost of education.

Joseph was born in Lebanon and emigrated to the United States with her family as a child. She credits her parents with setting an example. Uneducated, they worked tirelessly to give their children opportunities they did not have. Her mother, by her example, taught Joseph that it is important to give to people who have less. She recalls a wonderful Arabic proverb that her mother used to repeat: “Do good and throw it into the sea.” In other words, “give of yourself and donate to others without expecting anything in return,” she said. “Do it because it’s the right thing to do.”