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$2.5 million grant expands Persian, Iranian studies program at UA

$2.5 million grant expands Persian, Iranian studies program at UA

  • Dan DeLuca|CC BY 2.0

The University of Arizona is getting $2.5 million to fortify a Persian and Iranian studies program at the graduate level. Another professor will be hired as a result of the grant from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, which has awarded the school $6.35 million since 2002.

The Roshan Institute has been funding graduate fellowships and four faculty positions at the UA over the past two decades. The partnership supports the minor, master’s degree and Ph.D in Persian and Iranian studies that the school offers through their Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, housed in the School of Middle Eastern & North African Studies.

More than half of the grant will fund a new professor of Iranian Linguistics, a position which will be held by Simin Karimi, who currently works with the UA. The remaining $1 million will pay for fellowships offered to graduate students in the program.

The money will make the UA graduate program “one of the largest and most prominent Persian programs in the U.S.,” Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali, the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute founder, said in a press release.

It also helps the UA understand "the rich diversity of an increasingly globalized world," UA President Robert C. Robbins said.

Graduate students need to have “extensive and expert knowledge of Iran and other Persian-speaking societies such as Afghanistan and Tajikistan” to get into the Roshan program.

The Roshan Institute is a U.S.-based nonprofit whose funding comes from the multi-billion dollar Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The word “Roshan” means “enlightened, bright and clear” in Persian.

The UA started offering Persian language courses in 1969 and over the next few decades pieced the Iranian and Persian studies program together with courses on the history of Modern Iran and Afghanistan, the Persian language and the history of Islamic Sufism, among others, while also increasing library holdings in Persian fourfold in 2000.

Bennito L. Kelty is’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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afghanistan, iran, robert robbins, ua

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