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For Immediate Release
29 January 2013

Bethlehem University in the Holy Land Announces Intent to Purchase Additional Property in Bethlehem

Celebrating the Fraternal Partnership of the Custody of the Holy Land

Bethlehem, Palestine – On Thursday, January 31, 2013, the Custos of the Holy Land, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, and the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, Brother Peter Bray, will sign a fraternal partnership toward the purchase of the Mount David property in Bethlehem. The cooperation of the Latin Patriarchate together with the generous support of the Custody and other donors has thus far provided Bethlehem University with $8.3 million of the $13.8 million needed to complete the purchase of the Mount David property. Once the project is fully funded, this acquisition will enable Bethlehem University to provide expanded research and community service initiatives, new undergraduate entrepreneurial programs, and additional master and professional degrees in Governance and Public Administration, International Diplomacy and Foreign Service, and Social Work, among others.

The decision of the Discretory of the Custody to establish this fraternal partnership with Bethlehem University together with the support of other donors displays a strong commitment to the future wellbeing of the people of Palestine. Together with the Bethlehem University Administrative and Executive Councils, this signing will be witnessed by Dr. Michael Sansur, Bethlehem University Executive Vice President, and Father Ibrahim Faltas, General Administrator of the Custody of the Holy Land. Present at the ceremony will be the International Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees of Bethlehem University. Additionally, a host of Bethlehem area municipal officials, Church organizations, the Minister of High Education, and representatives of donor organizations will participate in the signing ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 31, 2013 in Bethlehem.

Bethlehem University seeks to inspire and empower students to be successful scholars, leaders, professionals, and engaged citizens in building a free and vibrant Palestine. "As we approach our 40th anniversary, we now have an opportunity to set a new standard of education for the future leaders of Palestine," said Brother Peter Bray, Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University. "I thank the Custody of the Holy Land, the Custos, and all our generous donors for this enhanced opportunity to serve the people of Palestine."

Bethlehem University will continue to seek U.S. $5.5 million to complete the purchase of the property, which will increase the University footprint by one-third its current size, so as to provide expanded services and new programs for Palestine. 

In May 2012, Bethlehem University named the Shucri Ibrahim Dabdoub Faculty of Business Administration in honor of the late son of Mr. Ibrahim S. Dabdoub, Group CEO of the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK). "My wife, daughter and I could find no better way to honor the memory of our beloved late son than to give the young men and women in Palestine an opportunity to obtain a first rate business education and thus the opportunity to improve their lives," Mr. Dabdoub said.

In November 2012, Bethlehem University dedicated its new Education Building to accommodate the Improving Education in Palestine Project that involves 118 schools in the middle and southern West Bank from the private, UNRWA, and public government sectors. Upwards of 22,000 students and 1,100 teachers as well as 5,000 parents and 180 Bethlehem University students in training to be teachers are beneficiaries of this new four-year program. "We are highly appreciative of the effort invested by the Faculty of Education at Bethlehem University into this project," said Mr. Sami Maroua, Head of Bethlehem Directorate of the Palestinian Ministry of Education.

The International Board of Regents and the Board of Trustees of Bethlehem University will also be meeting this week in Bethlehem to engage with the developing Strategic Plan and the emerging Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan. Members of these two Boards come from Asia, Europe, North America, Palestine, and other countries of the Middle East.

Representatives from the other donor organizations who will be present to celebrate this historic moment on January 31, 2013 include:

  • Br. Robert Schieler, FSC, representing the Lasallian Region of North America, Canada and United States of America
  • Prof. Dr. Heinrich Koller, representing the Association en Faveur de la Bethlehem University, Switzerland
  • Prof. Bart McGettrick, representing the Grand Magesterium of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchure of Jerusalem
  • Fr. Max Cappabianca, O.P., representing the Congregation of Oriental Churches, Vatican
  • Br. Thomas Johnson, FSC, representing the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, Rome
  • Br. Rafael Gonzales, FSC, representing the Frères des Ecoles Chrétiennes, Proche Orient, Beirut

For further information, contact:

Ms. Patti Riippa
Communications Director, USA
Mr. George Rishmawi
Communications Officer, Bethlehem
+972-2-274-1241, ext. 2421


As the only Catholic Christian university of the Lasallian tradition in the Middle East, welcoming students of all faith traditions, Bethlehem University has a unique and vital role in Palestine and throughout the Holy Land. Bethlehem University traces it roots to 1878 when the De La Salle Christian Brothers (Frères) came to the Middle East, opening schools in Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jaffa, Nazareth, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. Since the University was founded in 1973 as the first university in the West Bank, more than 14,500 Muslim and Christian graduates are serving Palestine.

Communications Office

George N. Rishmawi

George N. Rishmawi
Communications Officer
+972 2 274 1241 Ext. 2421

Jenny Hodali
Communications Officer

+972 2 274 1241 Ext. 2314
Fax: +972-2-274-4440

Physical Address:
Rue des Freres No. 9
P.O. Box 9 Bethlehem - Palestine

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine