NDU is a Lebanese non-profit Catholic institution of higher education, which adopts the American system of higher education. It first came into being in 1978 under the name of Louaize Center for Higher Education (LCHE). The Maronite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary (OMM), the sponsoring society of NDU, founded the LCHE under the wing of Beirut University College (BUC).
The OMM’s report titled, “Louaize Center for Higher Education: A Detailed Statement from 1978 to 1981,” dated January 16, 1981, provides information on the establishment of the LCHE in terms of its objectives, importance in the region, structure, and aspirations. The report purports the need to establish a Catholic institution of higher education in Lebanon, which follows the American system of higher education.
In 1978, a total of 72 students joined the LCHE and, in 1980, 305 students enrolled. The LCHE became the first non-profit Catholic educational institution to follow the American system of higher education in Lebanon. The BUC supervised the academic programs while the OMM took charge of administrative and financial matters.
True to the mission of the Order, which insists that the country needed a national university, Catholic in spirit, Maronite in tradition, and American in system, the LCHE on April 26, 1984, applied to the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE) for a license, requesting the establishment of an independent university. On August 14, 1987, the recognition of the University was granted in the form of a Presidential Decree numbered 4116, and thus NDU was founded, the only Catholic university based on the American system of higher education not only in Lebanon but also in the entire Arab Middle East region. NDU’s religious affiliation does not impose any sectarian obligations on faculty members, staff, or students. The cultural and spiritual heritage of the OMM highlights a belief in a unified Lebanon, a belief in education, as a means of protection against fanaticism and corruption, and a dedication to freedom of thought and expression. NDU espouses such values and beliefs irrespective of color, creed, race, or gender and seeks to enhance these values through the liberal education it offers and the career preparation that caters to the real needs of Lebanon and the region.
In July 1994, NDU celebrated its fourth graduation ceremony and NDU’s president at the time, Fr. Francois Eid, announced in his address the completion of the study, design, and architecture of a new campus. The foundation stone was laid on November 19, 1994.
In 1999, a new campus in Barsa, Koura (North Lebanon) was opened, known as the North Lebanon Campus (NLC). To this day, the NLC still offers undergraduate programs leading to Bachelor degrees in all majors offered at the main campus.
NDU decided to start a new chapter in its history by extending its services to the rural Shouf region where it established a campus in Deir-el-Kamar. The Supreme Council of the OMM endorsed the proposal, which the Board of Trustees (BOT) approved in its meeting on March 8, 2001. The establishment of the Shouf Campus (SC) aspired to meet the needs of the Christian and non-Christian communities, particularly in promoting dialogue, celebrating diversity, and cementing national cohesion.
In October 1992, NDU launched its graduate programs, recognized by the Lebanese government, offering Master degrees in Computer Science, Business Administration, International Affairs and Diplomacy, English Literature, Applied Linguistics and TEFL, and Arabic language and Literature.
In April 1994, NDU established the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture and, in October 1996, the Lebanese government issued decree number 9278, granting its official recognition to NDU’s new Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering, Computer and Communication Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Later on, the Architecture and Design programs were separated from the Faculty of Engineering into their own entity; the Faculty of Architecture, Art and Design (FAAD). The most recent addition to NDU’s academic programs is the Bachelor of Laws degree, which started in 2012. Today, NDU is home to seven Faculties (schools), namely:
Ramez G. Chagoury Faculty of Architecture, Arts and Design (FAAD)
Faculty of Business Administration and Economics (FBAE)
Faculty of Engineering (FE)
Faculty of Humanities (FH)
Faculty of Law and Political Sciences (FLPS)
Faculty of Natural and Applied Sciences (FNAS)
Faculty of Nursing and Health Sciences (FNHS)
It is noteworthy to mention that the culture of quality assurance and assessment has become firmly rooted at NDU. After few years of preparations including eligibility and candidacy phases, NDU received in 2018 the official institutional accreditation by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), previously the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (CIHE) of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC). NDU is the only Catholic institution in the entire Middle East and only the second university in Lebanon to have received this prestigious accreditation.
The story continues at a program level and many programmatic accreditations have been secured or are on their way to fulfillment. To illustrate, the Faculty of Engineering (FE) received in Summer 2016 the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accreditation, and the decision was retroactive to Fall 2013. The FE underwent a reaccreditation visit in Fall 2021 and the outcome was a renewed accreditation for a new full cycle ending 2028. The Computer Science program also underwent in November 2017 a comprehensive evaluation by the ABET Computing Accreditation Commission and was granted full accreditation in 2018 with retroactive to 2016. The International Advertising Association (IAA) has accredited, since 1999, the BA in Advertising and Marketing. Furthermore, the BA in Communication Arts – Radio/TV has been approved by the International Association of Cinema and Television Schools (CILECT) as a full member starting 2017. The Faculty of Business Administration and Economics (FBAE) became eligible in Summer 2016 for AACSB accreditation, submitted its official Self-Evaluation Report in Spring 2022, and is ready for the initial accreditation phase. Other programs are actively pursuing accreditation, such as the Architecture program with NAAB and the Actuarial Sciences program targeting ABET accreditation. Both programs saw their evaluation visits postponed because of the crisis and are updating their self-studies in anticipation of new visits in the near future.