Hala Atalla was a renowned faculty member and initiator of educational counseling at Birzeit University. She also worked in the broader community on issues of human development, taking a special interest in the rights and welfare of Palestinian women.
Dr. Atalla was born in Jerusalem on 6 April 1943. She started her schooling at the English Mission College in Cairo from 1948 to 1951. She attended the Friends’ Girls School in Ramallah and received a B.A. from the American University of Beirut in 1964, her B.Phil. (Advanced Studies) from the University of Exeter, UK, in 1977, and her Ph.D in Human Development from Bryn Mawr College in 1985. Her fields of interest and expertise included Educational Psychology, Clinical Evaluation, Life Span Development and Psychological Disorders of Children.
Her commitment to developing academic and research capabilities in her field went hand in hand with long years of community work in local educational institutions in Palestine.
In 1977, Hala was employed by Birzeit University, where she established the first student counselling services in a Palestinian institution, and taught on a part-time basis in the Department of Education and Psychology until 1980.
In 1985, after obtaining her Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College, Hala worked as a student counsellor at Birzeit University.
In the fall of 1987, she established, and was coordinator of, a special Program for first –year students at Birzeit University to help students bridge the gap between high school and college education.
In the fall of 1988, on her return from a study tour to development education and learning assistance centers in the United States, Hala prepared a comprehensive program proposal for a Learning Resource Center at Birzeit University, upon the basis of her experience in the special program for first- year students and her conviction that the establishing of such a Center was of utmost importance given that the Israeli military occupation authorities’ restrictions on educational activity and repressive measures concerning education had seriously undermined the entire Palestinian school system.
In 1995, she left to the US for medical treatment for cancer and she passed away on 16 April 1995. Following her death, a scholarship fund under her name was administrated by the Institute of Women’s Studies at Birzeit University.
In 1998, the Institute of Women’s Studies at Birzeit University published a book dedicated to the memory of Dr. Hala Atalla “Hala Atalla: A Human Life”.