The University of Houston is receiving a $1 million gift from the Arab-American Educational Foundation (AAEF) to support the creation of the Arab-American Educational Foundation Colloquium Endowment, Graduate Seminar and the Center for Arab Studies Endowment- all of which will hold and sponsor a variety of educational activities dedicated to improving society’s understanding of Arab culture.
“The Center will promote sustained multidisciplinary research, teaching, publications, community engagement in an atmosphere that is underlined by scholarly rigor, intellectual openness and academic freedom,” said Paula Myrick Short, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.
When it opens, UH will join Georgetown University as one of only two universities in the country to have academic centers that focus solely on the modern Arab world.
“This gift will empower several educational endeavors that look seriously at the modern history of the Arab world and Arab Americans,” said Aziz Shaibani, AAEF president.
Specifically, the AAEF gift will establish:
- The AAEF Farouk Shami Endowment to support a national graduate colloquium in Arab studies
- The AAEF Michael and Hoda Kardoush Endowment to fund a lecture and seminar program
- The Mahmoud Darwish Endowment to back a wide variety of research and outreach activities
“The Center for Arab Studies and the partnership with AAEF will allow UH to raise the level of training and opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students through international collaborations, scholarships, lectures, seminars and research-related initiatives on the Arab world,” said Antonio D. Tillis, dean of the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
The founding director of the center is Abdel Razzaq Takriti, UH associate professor and the inaugural Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Arab History, a position that was launched in 2015 through a partnership between AAEF and UH.
“It’s a major milestone for UH. This center pushes us forward in carrying out our mission of forging a deeper connection with Houston’s vibrant Arab-American community and furthering U.S. understanding of modern Arab society,” Takriti said.
Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the world and Arabic is among the top five languages spoken in Houston. Eloise Brice, vice president for University Advancement said it’s important for UH to be part of meaningful conversations about the Arab region.
“The University of Houston continues to make huge inroads in partnerships that enhance our academic portfolio and reputation as an institution of higher learning,” said Brice.