Andrews alumni share their experiences in Lebanon following the August 4 explosion.
Following the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, on August 4, 2020, Glenn Russell, associate professor and chair of the Andrews University Department of Religion & Biblical Languages, raised awareness and funds for Middle East University (MEU) in Beirut.
Home to numerous Andrews alumni and former professors, MEU also shares several connections to Andrews University. MEU’s theology department is under the Andrews curriculum, and graduates receive Andrews diplomas through this partnership. Most of the MEU faculty also do graduate work with Andrews.
Brian Manley, chair of the Department of Art and Design at MEU and Andrews alumnus, shared that he and his wife, Lori, are grateful they avoided injury in the explosion. Lori Manley works as a registrar at MEU and is also an Andrews alum.
“Our hearts are drawn out for the families impacted by the explosion, especially the impact on the economy and on new high school graduates’ ability to start university,” Brian Manley said.
Ron Vyhmeister, academic dean and IT manager at MEU, Andrews alumnus and former professor, shared his experience from the day of the explosion.
“I was with MEU president Larry Lichtenwalter in his office. We heard the first smaller explosion and, after a few seconds, checked out the city and saw the small black cloud. While watching through the open window, we saw the big explosion and just stood there stunned.
“Moments later, I wound up stumbling backward under the impact of the shockwave and managed to catch myself on the office door about 20 feet back. I heard the sound while I was stumbling. It was a surreal experience. At first, given the mushroom shape, I thought of a nuclear explosion, but the explosion’s height made me doubt that.