BEIRUT: Four trailblazers in their fields will be awarded honorary doctorates next month by the American University of Beirut.
This year’s degrees will go to world-renowned linguist and anti-war activist Noam Chomsky; Lebanese-American Charles Elachi, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology; Egyptian actress and women’s activist Faten Hamama; and international business leader Ray R. Irani.
Chomsky, known as the “father of modern linguistics,” is credited with his groundbreaking research on generative grammar and human language development. A professor at the Massachusetts of Technology since 1955, his work in linguistics has served to advance the studies of liberal arts and psychology as well as mathematics and computer science. Chomsky has also been an outspoken critic of U.S. wars on Iraq and Vietnam, and has written extensively in support of the Palestinian cause.
Elachi has been with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab since 1970, becoming the director in 2001. Since then, he has led some of NASA’s most high-profile space missions, including the Mars Rovers that is probing the planet’s surface. Some of his research has helped in the development of medical and mobile phone technology.
Hamama, nicknamed the grand lady of the Arab Screen, has helped change the Middle East’s film industry through the roles she has chosen that have addressed social taboos, such as divorce and honor killings. Later in her career, she took on roles that promoted democracy.
Irani is a world-leading researcher in the oil and gas industry. For over 20 years he served as chairman and CEO for Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Under his leadership, Occidental grew to be the fourth largest oil and gas company in the U.S. with 40,000 employees worldwide. Irani has published over 50 technical papers and holds 150 U.S. and foreign patents.
“Even beyond their impressive curricula vitae, this year’s honorands represent excellence across the fields of scholarship, leadership, enterprise, and service to others,” said AUB President Peter Dorman.
“Their work and achievements are a source of inspiration to many, not just in Lebanon and the region, but internationally,” he added.
The 144th commencement ceremonies will award degrees to 1,090 AUB undergraduates and 310 graduate students.