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University of Washington's Persian Program expands with local and national support

The Persian Studies program at the University of Washington in Seattle announces a series of investments that will allow it to significantly expand its course offerings, scholarships, and community service. This academic year has seen nearly $400,000 in new gifts to the program, an expansion with significant implications for the future of education in Persian language and literature and Iranian culture and civilization at the University.

"It has been a remarkable year for Persian Studies here, and I am pleased that the entire leadership of the University of Washington has supported our goal of expanding our teaching, research, and offerings to the local, national, and international communities," says Professor Ahmad-Karimi Hakkak, the program's Director. Dr. Karimi-Hakkak, an internationally recognized scholar and, most recently, president-elect of the Society for Iranian Studies, has worked with Bill Gates, Sr., a Regent of the University of Washington and Chairman of the University of Washington Foundation. "Mr. Gates, along with our President, Provost, and Deans, has been an invaluable advocate for attracting the attention and investment required to meet the critical need for strengthening the place of the historical Persian and contemporary Iran in our higher education curriculum."

On July 1, 2003, the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute established the Roshan Endowed Fellowship for Excellence in Persian Studies at the University of Washington at Seattle. This $300,000 gift will generate income to support at graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Persian Studies. With this new investment, the University of Washington Persian Studies Program, one of only approximately 10 in colleges and universities in the United States, is significantly strengthened in its ability to recruit and retain top scholars and future leaders in the field. It is a significant step forward for the program's goal of creating a $5M center, one with a unique focus on contemporary literary, cultural and educational issues.

The Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, led by Dr. Elahe Mir-Djalali, joins two of Seattle's leading families, the Ravanis and the Afrassiabis, as major donors of endowed gifts to the UW's Persian Studies Program.

"I and many others here are excited by these powerful new partnerships," observes Professor Michael Williams, Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilization, the home department for the Persian Studies Program. "While we have had an active Persian program here for over 30 years, but it has been relatively small, and limited it the number of students it can reach. Now, these recent investments will allow us to expand, and I have great confidence that we will be able to establish a Persian Center. These recent investments demonstrate that individuals can take a direct and powerful role in shaping our public university. When one changes the landscape at a great research university such as ours, one takes a hand in shaping the future of our society. With the obvious need for more education and awareness in this area, we are an attractive partner for those who wish to take an active role in promoting dialogue about Iran."

"As word of this initiative spreads, great things are going to happen," he concludes. "There is a very powerful community of Iranian Americans in the United States, and more are realizing how they can shape our educational institutions to ensure that their children's children will be able to explore their history and heritage in our university."

For further information, please contact Donald Summers, Director of Development for the Humanities, at (206) 616-0632 or

... Payvand News - 7/17/03 ... --

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