Macalester will soon select a new professor as Hubert H. Humphrey Visiting Chair of International Studies in the IS Department, a position currently held by Mohammed Bamyeh.
The two finalists for the position, who will visit campus next week to present research and meet with students, faculty, and administrators, are Joseph Massad of Columbia University, a renowned, yet controversial expert on Middle East studies, and Ghada Talhami, an professor in the Department of Politics at Lake Forest College.
Massad, currently an Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History in Columbia's Department of Middle East Language and Cultures, was at the center of a national firestorm last year over Zionism, anti-Semitism, academic freedom, and partisan witch-hunting. Massad faced a number of accusations, the most prominent of which alleged that he angrily criticized and dismissed a student from a class, declaring, "I will not stand by and let you sit in my classroom and deny Israeli atrocities!"
Two students have corroborated this allegation, but over twenty students have stated that the incident never took place. Massad denies the incident as well, and has accused Columbia and other groups of intimidation, calling it and investigations of his conduct a "witch hunt." Massad has published two books (with a third slated to be published next year) and numerous articles.
Ghada Talhami, another leading expert in the field of Middle East studies and a professor in the Department of Politics at Lake Forest College in Chicago, is the second candidate for the position. Talhami has written five books, including "Palestinian Refugees: Pawns to Political Actors," and "The Mobilization of Muslim Women in Egypt."
Talhami and Massad will speak and participate in a number of other events around campus on Wednesday, Dec. 6 and Friday, Dec. 8, respectively. Both candidates have spoken at conferences here in the last year, Talhami in July, and Massad in April.
If hired, the candidate will have a two-year renewable contract and teach three classes per semester. Information about the candidates' visits became public late this week, and next week's issue of The Mac Weekly will feature an extended discussion of the position and the candidates.