The University of Oklahoma will establish a Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies thanks to a $4 million gift from the Farzaneh Family Foundation.
OU President David Boren announced the gift and the new center Wednesday during a ceremony at the College of International Studies.
"It is believed to be the largest gift in the university's history from those who came to OU as international students. The Farzanehs are active leaders in our OU family," Boren said in the announcement.
Brothers and OU alumni Jalal Farzaneh and Mohammad Farzaneh are founders of the Oklahoma-based company Home Creations. The brothers came to Oklahoma from Iran in 1978 to study at OU, with both earning bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture.
The Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies will provide opportunities for students to develop a better cultural understanding, appreciation and awareness of the United States, Iran and the Middle East. It will include an academic major in Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies.
The gift will help fund scholarships for Iranian students and for students studying Persian language, three endowed professorships, an endowed lectureship, and a prize for Iranian Literature. The gift also will establish a Persian artwork fund and an endowed Persian book collection.
The Farzaneh family has donated gifts to the university totaling more than $8 million.
At the announcement, Boren also unveiled a sculpture titled "Omar Khayyam," inspired by the Persian polymath, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet of the Islamic Golden Age. Khayyam was born in 1048 AD in Nishapur, in northeastern Iran.
The sculpture was made possible by internationally noted sculptor and professor Hossein Fakhimi.
The OU College of International Studies houses the international and area studies department, the offices of education abroad and international student services, and offices supporting the OU study centers in Arezzo, Italy; Puebla, Mexico; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.