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Gift Establishes The Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History & Archaeology of Ancient Iran

Holder will collaborate with Jordan Center for Persian Studies & Culture

The University of California, Irvine has received a $1.5 million grant from Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute to establish the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History & Archaeology of Ancient Iran. Additional funding was provided by the UC Presidential Match for Endowed Chairs program. The holder of the $2 million chair in the Department of Art History will collaborate with UCI’s Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies & Culture.

“We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Mir-Djalali and Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute for this important endowed chair position,” said Georges Van Den Abbeele, dean of the School of Humanities. “With this support, UCI is poised to attract scholars and students from around the world who seek a diverse range of scholarly opportunities in both ancient and modern Iranian and Persian studies. Donors who endow chairs not only contribute to our scholarly excellence today, but also ensure the university’s continued preeminence in specific areas of study. In this case, the Elahe Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair builds upon our internationally recognized expertise in Persian studies and positions us well to become the leading center in this strategically important area of scholarly study.”

“We are delighted to endow a new chair specializing in ancient Iran at the UCI School of Humanities,” Mir-Djalali said. “Persian culture and history stretches back 3,500 years. Understanding and appreciating this rich and influential heritage is essential to developing more effective communication in today’s sometimes antagonistic relationships. It is a great honor to partner with the University of California, Irvine, relying on its excellence in academic strength and knowing that this endowment will benefit generations of faculty and students pursuing Persian and Iranian studies."

Founded in 2009, UCI’s Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies & Culture is a hub for interdisciplinary research projects that bridge the arts, humanities, engineering, medicine and the sciences with Persian studies. Since its inception, the center has hosted numerous conferences on the Iranian world; created research clusters uniting scholars on the study of the Tehran Project, alternative music, the Digital Archive of Middle Persian Inscriptions, and Sasanika (Late Antique Iran Project); and established an online, peer-reviewed journal, the Digital Archive of Brief Notes & Iran Review, or DABIR. UCI students can minor in Persian studies and take courses about both ancient and modern Iran.

“The Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Presidential Chair in Art History & Archaeology of Ancient Iran will position the Jordan Center as a national leader in both modern and ancient Iran and secure our footing for continued excellence in Persian and Iranian studies,” said history professor Touraj Daryaee, center director and Maseeh Chair in Persian Studies & Culture. “We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Mir-Djalali and Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute for their investment in the work we do, and I personally look forward to collaborating with the future chair holder.”

Recruitment for the inaugural appointment is planned for the coming academic year.

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