Two Princeton University alumni have donated $10 million to establish a Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies at the Ivy League school, the university announced yesterday.
Sharmin Mossaver-Rahmani, a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive, and her husband Bijan Mossaver-Rahmani, an oil company executive, graduated from the university with degrees in economics and certificates in Near Eastern studies.
The center will augment the school's current Middle Eastern studies offerings, providing a base from which students will explore historical and contemporary issues facing Iran and the Persian Gulf, the university said in a release.
Areas of study will include regional and global security, trade, international finance and the oil and energy industry.
The center will place a special focus on current events, the university said.
"It is essential that we cultivate a fuller understanding of Iran and the other countries of the Persian Gulf, given their rich culture, geopolitical importance and the troubled history of American-Iranian relations," university president Shirley Tilghman said in the release.
The center will hold lectures, recruit visiting scholars and sponsor study-abroad programs.
It will offer certificates to students who complete the Iran and Persian Gulf studies program, university communications director Ruth Stevens said. The center will not offer degrees.
The university currently offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern studies.
Sharmin and Bijan Mossaver-Rahmani received certificates in Near Eastern studies when they graduated from the university in 1980 and 1974 respectively.
The couple said they were inspired by the work of Princeton University alumnus Howard Baskerville, who taught and fought for democracy in Iran after graduating in 1907.
"He is still revered by Iranians," Bijan Mossaver-Rahmani said in the release.
Sharmin Mossaver-Rahmani said she hoped the center will build on Baskerville's legacy.
"Baskerville is reported to have said that 'the only difference between me and these people is my place of birth, and this is not a big difference,'" Sharmin Mossaver-Rahmani said.
The couple's donation was part of the university's recently completed five-year fundraising campaign, which raised $1.88 billion.
The Center for Business and Government at Harvard University bears the Mossaver-Rahmanis' name as well.
Sharmin Mossaver-Rahmani is the chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs' private wealth management group. Bijan Mossaver-Rahmani is the chairman and CEO of RAK Petroleum in the United Arab Emirates and the chairman of DNO International in Norway.
The Mossaver-Rahmanis live in New York City.