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UA receives $2 million endowment to expand cultural education

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Jen Pimentel and Jen Pimentel | The Daily Wildcat The Department of Middle Eastern and North African Studies on Park Avenue. The department recently recieved $2 million grant to expand their Persian and Iranian Studies.

To develop further education in cultural studies, the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute donated a $2 million endowment to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences' Iranian and Persian studies program.

The School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, which is currently one of the largest schools in the nation, received the endowment money, according to UANews.

The grant will help start up the Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Progra, establish a new faculty chair and recruit a professor with a specialty in Persian and Iranian studies.The school has since received $1 million, which will help the development of the master's and doctoral programs.

Ben Fortna, professor and director of the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, said the bulk of the grant will be used to recruit a professor and offer four new classes starting fall 2017.

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“I am extremely happy about this gift. It will give us a chance to expand nationally and internationally,” Fortna said. “Hopefully, recognition from the grant would give us improved relations with Iran for students, depending on the political situation, but maybe it can attract more students to the program and over time more students can take Persian language classes. The grant can give them the opportunity for advanced courses.”

Kamran Talattof, a professor at the school, said the grant was used to build upon the UA’s already existing infrastructure in Persian and Iranian studies.

“This unique academic program will be an independent academic unity in the UA’s Graduate College and will offer M.A. and Ph.D. degrees,” Talattof said. “The grant will include the endowment of an existing faculty line and hiring a new faculty. I will be the chair of the GIDP and will form the core faculty of the Roshan Institute program with the new assistant professor.”

Talattof said the program will coordinate and support educational and cultural programs among students and the wider community, as well as provide resources for future generations of Persian language teachers and Persian and Iranian studies scholars.

“The UA’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences includes 22 units that focus on human beings and the societies and cultures they create,” Talattof said. “The new program will contribute to its mission.”

The grant helped the pace of campaigning for Arizona NOW, a fundraising campaign created to improve the lives of people in Arizona and the world. The UA is now closer to reaching its $1.5 billion goal.

This is the institute’s second grant to the UA, and Talattof established a $300,000 endowment to the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies for students in Persian and Iranian studies.

Jennifer Yamnitz, director of marketing and communications for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, quoted the college’s dean, John Paul Jones III.

“We are very excited by the grant from Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute to establish the Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Persian and Iranian studies," Yamnitz said. "The Roshan program will serve to preserve and promote Persian and Iranian humanistic and social science research, and it will enhance the breadth and depth of our cultural studies in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.” 


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