Remembering Dr. Samir Saliba

Posted by Monica Hoel

Dr. Samir N. Saliba
February 18, 1934 - November 25, 2020

Samir Nicolas Saliba, passed in Leesburg, Virginia from complications of frontotemporal dementia. Preceded in death by Linda, his dear wife of 62 years, three brothers and two sisters. Survived by loving children Samira Saliba Phillips (Mark), David Saliba (Gina), Juliet Huffman (Jeremy); beloved grandchildren Laila Phillips, John, Holly, Sophie and Andrew Saliba, Anna, Emory and Grace Huffman, sisters Samira Wadsworth, Houda Raphael, brother Nadim Saliba, nephew Ramzi Humsi (Salwa) as well as many more beloved nieces, nephews, friends and former students. His family also encompassed many E&H alumni including Rania Saliba (’86), Ramzi Saliba (’75), and Carl  Landey (’80).

Born in the village of Bourj el-Moulouk in the Marjeyoun region of Lebanon, Samir came to the United States in 1956 to attend Tulane University, where he earned his BA, MA and PhD in political science.

In 1964 he began a long and productive career as a professor of political science and international relations at Emory & Henry College. He was promoted to associate professor in 1967 and full professor in 1972. He served as chair of the political science department at Emory & Henry for more than two decades, and was the director of the College’s Pre-Law program beginning in 1984. He was director of the College’s Center for International Studies. From 1972-1984, he served as Dean of the College and was responsible for designing and implementing a ground-breaking liberal arts core curriculum that remained in place for nearly three decades. In addition, he served as acting president of the College for nine months during the 1972-73 academic year. He was designated by the College as the Hawthorne Professor of Political Science in 1991, then the Meyung Professor of International Studies in 1995. The Emory & Henry Alumni Association presented him with the James A. Davis Faculty Award in 1992. He was the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia’s Outstanding Faculty Award winner in 1997, and in 2001 he received the Outstanding Educator Award from the United Methodist Foundation. He was co-author of The Nature and Functions of Law, a popular text used in numerous colleges and universities nationwide, now in its seventh printing. According to a College recognition, “Dr. Saliba established himself as a pioneer in the field of international education and adapted Emory & Henry’s core curriculum so that students were exposed to other cultures, religions and ways of thinking. He helped others understand Islamic culture, religion, politics and art.” In 2010, Pete Walters (’70), chair of the board of Guardian Industries in Michigan, established the Samir N. Saliba Endowment for International Education at Emory & Henry in appreciation for his mentor’s work in helping others understand the world around us. At the time of his retirement, he held the distinction of being the E&H faculty member serving the longest tenure, with 50 years of exemplary teaching and leadership.

Samir was an excellent cook and took great joy and delight in preparing traditional Lebanese food, sometimes on a large scale for college events, and always the teacher, never hesitated to share his recipes with others. He loved southwest Virginia because it reminded him of his childhood home in the mountains of Lebanon and he spent many happy hours in his garden and yard, raising delicious fruits and vegetables and sharing them widely. He was also an avid tennis player and in his youth played on the Lebanese basketball team in the Pan-Arab games. He had a warm and humorous personality and looked for the best in everyone he met. Even in his last days he maintained a keen interest in the affairs of the world and offered his observations on American and international politics to the end.

Of all his accomplishments, he was most proud of his children and later, his grandchildren, who knew him as “Jiddo.”

Plans will be made for a celebration of life in 2021 when circumstances are safer.

In 2017, Henry Keuling-Stout (E&H ’69), one of the first E&H students to study with Dr. Saliba, initiated the Samir N. Saliba Scholarship to honor him for being the longest-tenured faculty in Emory & Henry’s history. The family suggests that Samir’s life be memorialized with donations to this scholarship at Emory & Henry College. Memorial gifts may be made online at www.ehc.edu/give or mailed to:

Office of Advancement
Emory & Henry College
PO Box 950
Emory, VA 24327

  • Dr, Samir Saliba, Emory & Henry Faculty Emeritus

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