If days were ranked in order of happiness, Thursday solidly stands at No. 2 for Jalal Farzaneh, tailing the day he was declared a U.S. citizen, which holds the lead for No.1.
During the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents meeting Thursday, Farzaneh and his brother Mohammad, founders of the Oklahoma-based company Home Creations and immigrants from Iran, announced their family's $1 million endowed chair in Iranian studies within the School of International and Area Studies at OU.
"As first and second generation Americans, when you think about America giving so much to you, you want to give back to the society that gave you so much. That's what we're doing," said Farzaneh, an OU graduate, of the news that follows last month's meeting headline of the school's plans to offer Arabic as an undergraduate major next fall.
"We have to make sure this community is welcoming and accepting of other international people," he said.
The push to peg the landlocked, red dirt as an international hub is the response to a now consistent foreign knock on the United States' front door, within a shrinking global neighborhood, said Joshua Landis, associate professor and co-director of the Center for Middle East Studies in the university's School of International and Area Studies.
"We talk about bombing Iran all the time. We need to know something about this country," Landis said.
A national search for the professor will begin next fall, and the new faculty member is expected to begin at OU in time for the 2011-2012 school year, said OU President David Boren.
The addition of a professor who specializes in Iranian studies is the first step in OU's establishment of an Iranian Studies Institute, which Landis said is critical during this political shake-up, as Iran — on whose borders the United States is waging two wars — ranks at the forefront of American foreign policy concerns.
"I can't stress how important it is to have people like the Farzanehs," Landis said. "They understand the way to make an impact is through education … educating Oklahomans. It's a long-term investment in building up the state."
During the meeting, the board also appointed Berrien Moore III, an internationally acclaimed mathematician and earth scientist, to dean of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences.
Moore, who has been honored by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will become dean designate May 31 so he can gain insight from the outgoing Dean John Snow, who is retiring to focus on teaching and research.
Moore will assume the deanship July 1. He also will serve as professor of meteorology, Chesapeake Energy Corporation Chair in Climate Studies, director of the National Weather Center and vice president for Weather and Climate Programs.
In other business, the board also approved:
· The purchase of six compressed natural gas-fueled buses to the CART system. These buses will replace three old buses and add three more to accommodate a growing ridership.
· An advanced standing program to integrate foreign-trained dentists into the existing third and fourth year of the Doctor of Dental Surgery program, so these graduates will be authorized to receive a license to practice within the United States.
· Resolutions honoring Andrew Coats, who served as dean of the College of Law for 14 years; Paul Massad, who worked for 50 years in Student Recruitment, Alumni and Development; Dr. Martin Tippie, a Board Certified Family Practice physician at Goddard Health Center who retired after 28 years; the men's gymnastics team, which won its 10th Mountain Pacific Sports Federation conference championship; the women's gymnastics team, which placed second in the NCAA Championships; and the women's basketball team, which was the first in state history to appear in consecutive Final Fours.
· The revised Campus Master Plan of Capital Improvement Projects for the Norman, Oklahoma City and Tulsa campuses, setting priorities on projects for each campus that include renovations and improvements in areas such as Information Technology, a lecture hall in the Physical Sciences Center, Student Housing residences, OU Cancer Institute and parking facilities.
· Renovations to floors 10 through 14 of the Sarkeys Energy Center.
· A roof replacement at Goddard Health Center to restore and preserve its watertight condition.
Nanette Light 366-3541 firstname.lastname@example.org