Jarrahi Family Supports New Professorship in Persian Studies

January 8, 2019

Left to right: Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the UNC College of Arts & Sciences; Parvis Jarrahi; Carl Ernst, William R. Kenan, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations; Ali Jarrahi; Rudi Colloredo-Mansfield, senior associate dean for social sciences and global programs in the College; Terry Rhodes, senior associate dean for fine arts and humanities in the College.

With the generous support of the Jarrahi family, the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Chapel Hill College of Arts & Sciences is pleased to announce a new tenure-track assistant professor position in Islamic studies with a specialization in Persian/Iranian studies, funded by the newly established Dr. Ali Jarrahi Term Professorship. The announcement was made during a luncheon with the Jarrahi family, University leaders and faculty on December 18, 2018.

This gift will support a three-year term professorship and will provide an important way to elevate UNC’s Persian Studies program in the Department of Asian Studies in the College of Arts & Sciences. Additional support for the position will come from the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies as a Title VI National Resource Center.

According to Carl Ernst, William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Religious Studies and co-director of the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, the Dr. Ali Jarrahi Term Professorship is a historic step in the establishment of Persian studies as an important component of UNC’s global portfolio. “The generosity of the Jarrahi family is a model of forward-thinking philanthropy. Their leadership will encourage others to support Persian studies as a key area of excellence at UNC,” Ernst said.

The Jarrahi family has been a long-time supporter of the UNC-Chapel Hill Persian Studies program, previously funding the Jarrahi Family Library Fund for Persian Studies, which facilitates UNC Libraries’ acquisition of books, journals, films and language-learning resources relating to Persian language and culture, and the Horner Jarrahi Persian Studies Speaker Series Endowment, which funds a series of free public programs in the UNC Libraries related to Persian studies, history and culture. The family’s contributions have increased opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty interested in Persian studies on campus and beyond.

Currently, students interested in Persian studies at UNC-Chapel Hill can study beginning, intermediate and advanced courses in Farsi, as well as courses in Iranian culture and literature. Students can minor in Persian, study Persian as their required Asian language for the interdisciplinary major in Asian studies, or use Persian language courses to fulfill their foreign language requirement. Students may also join the Persian Cultural Society student organization, which supports the understanding of Persian culture through sponsoring social and cultural events.

The support from the Jarrahi family will continue to expand the Persian Studies program and offer more opportunities for the study and appreciation of Persian language and culture.

For more information about giving to UNC Persian Studies, please contact Chris Davis, associate director of development for the UNC Arts and Sciences Foundation, christopher.davis@unc.edu.