Name a Laboratory in the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Science Hall after Dr. Salim Diab
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Dr. Salim Diab was born in 1948 in Nazareth, Israel. Like many dreamers and high achievers, he possessed the inexhaustible courage to confront the unknown; travelling across the ocean to the United States in pursuit of an advanced education. While earning his doctorate in chemistry, he began teaching at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois.
In his 33 years of educational excellence at USF, he demonstrated the beauty and nobility of the life of the mind, and the excitement of the world of ideas. He twice received the Excellence in Teaching Award, presented at the prestigious Oxford Round Table Conference on Global Warming, assisted in the development of a community-based recycling program in his hometown of Nazareth, and aided faculty at the University of San Francisco Xavier in Bolivia in developing a research program on green organic synthesis.
No borders or barriers could contain the massive intellect or gigantic heart of Dr. Salim Diab. In addition to his international work in education and environmentalism, he also taught at Lewis University, Benedictine University, and Governor’s State University. He was a staff member at Argonne National Laboratory, and highly involved with the American Chemical Society.
Dr. Diab was a force of nature of near mythic proportions. His arrival in any institution left no corner unmarked, and no life untouched. The innumerable students and staff who enjoyed the privilege of his instruction, friendship, and mentorship can testify that the miracle of Diab’s life was that his compassion managed to equal his intellect in size and scope.
Diab was an active faculty member at Joliet Junior College; he educated young children in the JAMSCEEP – a program specializing in “at risk” youth, and taught the Chicago Police Department in the areas of forensic science. He organized Forensics Camp for children at the University of St. Francis, was a mentor for children with the Big Brother and Big Sister program, and was an active volunteer with Joliet Area Community Hospice. DIab proudly organized Bolivia Mission Trips and was an Ambassador for Trips to Israel through the University of St. Francis, and was a local youth mentor. He also volunteered at the Morning Star Mission homeless shelter in Joliet.
While at the University of St. Francis, Diab was the faculty advisor of the student clubs, the Council for Environmental Awareness and the Council for Social Activism. His work with diverse constituencies for a variety of causes on and off campus demonstrated that there is no separation between intellectual accomplishment and moral efficacy. For Diab, scholarship was not the means of enrollment into an exclusive, high society, but a tool for the improvement of life in communities around the world. He retired from USF in 2012, earning the designation Professor Emeritus.
Dr. Salim Diab was given a terminal diagnosis of colon cancer in 2013. Not even his illness could reduce his dedication to maximum life and loving commitment to others. Instead of quietly waiting for the end, he defied doctor’s expectations; continuing to teach at Lewis University, oversee the Forensic Camp for Kids at USF, and working with the crime lab for the Joliet Police Department. He won the American Chemical Society’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2016.
Dr. Salim Diab died on October 3, 2017, at the age of 69.
The University of St. Francis mission statements reads as follows: “As a Catholic university rooted in the liberal arts, we are a welcoming community of learners challenged by Franciscan values and charism, engaged in a continuous pursuit of knowledge, faith, wisdom, and justice, and ever mindful of a tradition that emphasizes reverence for creation, compassion and peacemaking.”
Dr. Salim Diab, in his career and calling as professor, advisor, mentor, scholar, activist, and friend, not only exemplified the pursuit of knowledge, faith, wisdom, and justice in reverence for creation, compassion, and peacemaking, but elevated it to a living and breathing example for everyone in his classroom, charity, and company to employ as inspiration.
Diab is deserving of official acknowledgement and award from the University of St. Francis. Therefore, we ask that the University name one of the laboratories in the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Science Hall after Diab.
This dedication will honor the life and legacy of Diab. It was also keep alive his spirit, offering it as a model for all who pass through the lab’s doors, giving Diab an everlasting opportunity to do what he did so well – teach: Teach the value of intellectual rigor and the necessity of kindness and compassion.
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