A new full-time professor for the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies program will be hired for the 2009 to 2010 academic year, and an adjunct professor was added to the program for next semester, Dean of Arts and Sciences Adam Jaffe said.
Since the retirement of Prof. Yitzhak Nakash (IMES), the IMES program, a department in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department, has had only two full-time professors, Avigdor Levy (NEJS), the program's chair, and Joseph Lumbard (NEJS). Compounding the shortage, Lumbard said he plans to go on sabbatical next semester and Avigor will go on sabbatical all of next year.
In response to the shortage of professors, IMES students sent a letter written by IMES Undergraduate Departmental Representative Noa Balf '09 to administrators Oct. 17 detailing their disappointment with the current situation, specifically a shortage of professors able to teach contemporary Islamic studies.
"I feel that the IMES department is being neglected by the administration," IMES major Avraham Bieler '09 said. "In the world we live in today where Middle Eastern Studies is so important, it behooves the University to improve the department. It has the potential to train [Brandeis] students to become involved in the Middle East."
"I signed [the letter] because there are only two professors," IMES major Jasmine Gothelf '10 said. "A department that I think is important should have more than two professors."
The letter was sent to University President Jehuda Reinharz, Provost Marty Krauss, Jaffe and NEJS Chair Prof. David Wright (NEJS), among others. In the letter, the students request that the administration replace Nakash.
In response, Jaffe recently approved the appointment of Martin Nguyen, an adjunct who will teachiIntroduction to Islamic Theology next semester. Jaffe is also searching for a visiting professor who will come to Brandeis next year while Levy is away.
Prof. Nader Habibi, the Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East (IBS), who also has a joint appointment with the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, will serve as a permanent member of the Economics department and the IMES program. Habibi will teach courses listed under the IMES program and will begin to advise IMES majors, Jaffe said.
The search for a new full-time professor for IMES will start next year, Jaffe said.
Habibi said that in addition to courses on economics in the Middle East, he will also teach general economics courses.
Jaffe said that he is also searching for a new professor to fill the Robert and Myra Kraft Chair in Arab Politics, who will also be a permanent member of the IMES Program faculty. Habibi and the recipient of the Chair will both conduct research at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies.
Jaffe said that the new professors will merely be affiliated with the Crown Center, and that their main focus will be teaching. He also said they could potentially advise IMES majors, but acknolwedged that they may be too busy with research at the Crown Center.
Jaffe said he realizes the need to hire a new IMES professor, but said he first wants to wait and see if Habibi and the yet-to-be-hired chair in Arab Politics will help alleviate the problem.
Habibi stressed that the Middle East is as an ever-growing academic field that deserves considerable attention from the University.
"The economies of the Middle East are growing very fast and [the Middle East is] becoming a very important region from an economic point of view with respect to the global economy and international trade," he said. "Therefore private companies and governments around the world would have a growing interest in knowledge about the region."
According to Krauss, the turnover rate of professors makes it difficult to respond to every academic need the University has. However, she said the faculty and the administration are doing everything that they can to remedy the situation.