Irene Hazou, academic vice president of Bethlehem University, meets students.
Catholic News Service
BETHLEHEM, West Bank — Thirty-five years after the first class graduated from Bethlehem University, one of its members is now the first woman and Palestinian to hold the Catholic school’s highest academic position.
“No one ever imagined this position not being held by a (Christian) brother,” said Irene Hazou, new academic vice president.
“My appointment has had a very positive impact on the faculty and staff at Bethlehem University because the more we have local people in high positions in the administration, the more they feel the university is deeply rooted in this culture and this country,” she said.
Bethlehem University, the first university established in the West Bank, was founded in 1973 through the joint efforts of Palestinian educators, community leaders, the Vatican and the De La Salle Christian Brothers, who today run the university.
Hazou joins two male Palestinian colleagues who hold the positions of executive vice president and administrative vice president. The fourth vice president has traditionally been held by a De La Salle Christian Brother. Hazou said the words of support and encouragement she received from her colleagues gave her a “deeper sense of responsibility,” she said.