Lebanon was and still is an intermediary among various civilizations and cultures. Perhaps the clearest indication of its link between East and West is its role in the Arab renaissance of the 19th century which revitalized and modernized the intellectual movement, founded schools, universities, presses, fora, newspapers and magazines, and initiated research and translation.
The Jesuits played a notable role in these activities. In 1839 they came to Beirut and established a modest school. This was followed in 1855 by a school in Ghazir (Kisruwan) which would be moved to Beirut in 1875. Authorities graced the new school with the title of “university” which allowed it to grant academic degrees, mainly doctoral degrees in philosophy and theology. The foundation of faculties and institutes followed. For instance, the Institute of Medicine founded in 1883 would become the Faculty of Medicine in 1888. then the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy in 1889. A maternity clinic opened in 1896, followed by the Oriental College in 1902, the School for French Law in 1913 which became the Faculty of Law in 1946. The French School of Engineering also founded in 1913 would become the Higher Institute for Engineering in 1948.