Mason Receives $1.5 Million Gift for Chair in Islamic Studies

Posted: November 10, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By James Greif

Mason has received a $1.5 million gift from the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT) to recruit a leading senior scholar to serve as an endowed chair in Islamic studies.

The gift will allow Mason to build upon the rich Islamic culture present in its diverse student body, faculty and the surrounding communities and position the university as a leading authority in the field of Islamic studies.

IIIT is a private, nonprofit, academic and cultural institution dedicated to promoting research, publications and conferences related to Islamic thought and contemporary social sciences.

The position will be based within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). Together with faculty currently in the Islamic studies program, the new chair will work toward developing a full, multidisciplinary academic program that encompasses teaching, research and public outreach.

“George Mason University and CHSS would like to thank IIIT for its generous gift,” says Jack Censer, dean of CHSS. “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. We plan to enhance the study of global trends, enabled in part by this new chair.”

Mason’s program in Islamic studies focuses on understanding Islam’s role in the development of world civilization and global culture in fields such as philosophy, literature and the sciences, as well as the dynamics surrounding the Muslim world’s interactions with other cultures.

“We are profoundly grateful to IIIT for its very generous support of Islamic studies at the university at this important time in the life of the program,” says Maria Dakake, associate professor of religious studies at Mason.

“Adding an endowed chair in Islamic studies gives considerable weight and prestige to the program and provides Mason with a strong base on which to grow and develop an academically rigorous, interdisciplinary program.”

Jamal Barzinji, IIIT vice president, says, “The study of Islam within the context of a global human civilization is essential to an understanding of the critical issues of our times. IIIT proudly provides this gift to fund a chair in Islamic studies to help Mason lead the way in studying Islam and Muslim societies as dynamic living phenomena contributing to ideas and ideals that help human advancement.”

Mason currently offers interdisciplinary minors in Islamic studies and Middle East studies and provides students the opportunity to study at its Ras Al Khaimah Campus in the United Arab Emirates.

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