University community celebrates lifetime achievements of Kamal Abdel-Fattah in ceremony

Birzeit University’s students, faculty, staff, and administration celebrated the achievements of Professor Emeritus Kamal Abdel-Fattah, the “Father of Palestinian Geographers,” in a farewell ceremony held on Saturday, February 9, 2019. 

Abdel-Fattah, who worked at the university’s Department of Geography and held many positions throughout his 41-year career, had recently announced his plans for retirement to a life of private research, noting that he wishes to work on a geographic encyclopedia. 

The students and some of the faculty members attending the ceremony expressed their appreciation for Abdel-Fattah’s great impact on their academic careers, commenting that he oversaw their journeys from freshly-enrolled students in the university’s geography program to master’s students and Ph.D. candidates at Arab and European universities. 

Abdel-Fattah joined Birzeit University in 1978 as an instructor in the Department of Geography. He held several positions during his long career, including dean of the Faculty of Arts, chairman of the Middle East Studies Department, and chair of the geography department. He is a member of the Palestinian Studies Association and a founding member of the Palestinian Academic Society for International Affairs “PASSIA," and has contributed to the publishing of two international atlases. 

“Today we honor our esteemed colleague and friend, Kamal Abdel-Fattah, who has directed the passion of our students towards new lands and areas ever since he enrolled at the university,” said President of Birzeit University Abdullatif Abuhijleh who hailed Abdel-Fattah as one of Palestine’s most prominent academics whose books and lectures have illuminated many geographical areas and phenomena. “We meet today to celebrate his unyielding academic engagement as he plans to embark on his research and encyclopedia project.”  

Othman Sharkas, chair of the Department of Geography, and Sameh Abu Awad, head of Birzeit University's Union of Employees and Professors, both praised Abdel-Fattah’s dedication, conscientiousness, and meticulousness inside the classroom and in his everyday interactions with students and his fellow instructors. 

In his farewell remarks, Abdel-Fattah reminisced about his early days at Birzeit University and his efforts to send geography students to Norway to pursue master’s and Ph.D. degrees so they could enrich the university and the broader Palestinian community upon their return.