Duke has received $3 million to create a directorship for Islamic Studies.
The donation comes from Bettye Martin Musham, Nursing '54, according to a Duke News release. The new director will oversee the Duke Islamic Studies Center, which was established in 2006 and facilitates the University's teaching and research about Muslim and Islam communities.
"We're grateful to Bettye Musham for her generosity," President Richard Brodhead said in the release. "In our increasingly interconnected world, it is vital that non-Muslims and Muslims are educated in each other's cultures, beliefs, practices and contributions to the world. This gift will help keep Duke and our scholars at the forefront of cross-cultural learning and understanding."
The first William and Bettye Martin Musham Director of Islamic Studies will be Omid Safi, Trinity '92 and Ph.D. '98, who will come to Duke from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In addition to the directorship, Safi will hold an appointment in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
"Duke has a long tradition of extraordinary scholarship in the study of Islam. We are thrilled that Omid Safi will continue that pursuit, both in the study and translation of Persian texts as well the study of contemporary Muslim thought in American and in Iran," Laurie Patton, dean of Duke's Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, said in the release. "DISC will thrive under his leadership and vision, and we are delighted at his arrival."
Musham is one of the founders of Gear Holdings, Inc., a design and marketing group based in New York. A member of the Council on International Relations, she was general manager of Louis Vuitton for North America in the 1970s. Her husband William passed away in 2001.