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Mason Establishes Endowed Chair in Islamic Studies

By Leah Kerkman Fogarty on April 1, 2009

To position itself as a leading authority in the field of Islamic studies, Mason is recruiting an expert in that discipline. Last November, Mason received a $1.5 million gift from the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) to hire a leading scholar to serve as an endowed chair in Islamic Studies.

Based within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS), the new chair will work toward developing a multidisciplinary academic program with teaching, research, and public outreach. Says CHSS dean Jack Censer, “As this appointment focuses on Islam from a global perspective, it will facilitate more teaching and scholarship in an area that the university has already identified as a spire of excellence.”

IIIT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of Islamic thought and contemporary social sciences. The gift will help Mason lead the way in the study of Islam and Muslim societies, says IIIT vice president Jamal Barzinji.

“The study of Islam within the context of a global human civilization is essential to an understanding of the critical issues of our time,” Barzinji says.

The program will stem from the interdisciplinary minor in Islamic studies and Middle East studies that Mason currently offers.

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