Peter Gubser, a longtime adjunct professor in the Masters of Arts in Arab Studies program, died of cancer on Sept. 2 at the age of 69, University Provost James O'Donnell announced in an email sent to the campus community Monday evening.
Gubser lectured on economic development in the Arab world as part of the MAAS from 1995 until 2003. As president of American Near East Refugee Aid from 1977 until 2007, Gubser led various humanitarian projects in the Middle East, providing milk to thousands of schoolchildren in Gaza and building educational centers for teaching business administration at colleges in the West Bank, according to his obituary on ANERA's website.
In 1983, Gubser co-founded the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and served as its secretary at the time of his death. "He was … a role model as an inspirational leader, an institution builder, the longtime head of one of the world's most effective philanthropic organizations devoted to the alleviation of suffering and the provision of opportunities for those in need, as well as an indefatigable champion of the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation," John Duke Anthony, president and chief executive officer of NCUSAR, wrote in an obituary on the Saudi-U.S. Relations Information Service.
Liz Kepferle, program coordinator of MAAS from 1993 to 2005 and current dean of admissions at the School of Foreign Service in Qatar, commented on how much Gubser inspired his students.
"Many of professor Gubser's students, having learned the nuts and bolts of project management in his course, went on to work for the U.N. or the World Bank, or in development-oriented NGOs such as ANERA," Kepferle wrote in an email. "In addition to being an expert in his field, Peter Gubser was wonderful to work with on a personal level — kind, patient, genuinely interested in his students and those he worked with and for."
Gubser wrote several books about economic and social conditions in the Middle East, and this April, he published a biography on Saladin, a 12th-century Muslim leader who led opposition to the Crusaders.
Gubser graduated from Yale University in 1964, received his masters in Middle Eastern studies and Arabic at the American University of Beirut in 1966, and his doctorate in social anthropology from Oxford University in 1969.
He is survived by his mother, his wife, his two daughters and his two granddaughters.