Over 900 people attended the first President's Associates dinner of the semester Wednesday night.
The Molly Shi Boren Ballroom and the Beaird Lounge of the Oklahoma Memorial Union were packed as OU Professor Joshua Landis spoke about the revolution taking place in Syria as part of the dinner.
Landis, the director of the Center for Middle East Studies and an international scholar in Syrian studies, has often been featured on other news outlets, including NPR and the Wall Street Journal, for his expertise.
"Why would we turn to out-of-the country experts when we have locale members of our own community as great as Landis, who we really appreciate and feel so very fortunate to have?" Boren said, as he introduced Landis following the dinner.
Landis began his lecture on "Syria at the Crossroads" by thanking Boren and highlighting the great strides of the College of International Studies.
He, then, quickly dove into the subject at hand.
"The regime of Bashar Al-Assad is doomed." Landis said. "However, it's going to be a long and bloody fight."
"When success comes, security officials will lose their jobs and the current people on top… Who knows what will happen to them?" he said. "They've inflicted such pain and destroyed so much that there's bound to be a backlash."
"Syria is one of the last minoritarian regimes in the Middle East and, since no one wants to lose, this is going to come at a very high cost." Landis said. "Being sectarian is what makes it strong and weak at the same time."
"There are many smart, enlightened and creative people in Syria. They're just not being listened to. There's also a lot of hope, but it's going to take time," he said.
Landis also discussed the roles that countries such as Iran, Turkey, Russia, Jordan, Iraq, China and America in either choosing to take part in the uprising, or not.
The floor was open to a question and answer session after Landis ended his presentation, and the evening ended with the collaborative singing of the traditional OU chant.
"At OU, we will do our part to produce right leaders for years ahead," Boren concluded.