ST. BONAVENTURE — St. Bonaventure University's Center for Arab and Islamic Studies held the grand opening of its new location Wednesday night, a move meant to show a continued commitment to promoting appreciation of Islamic culture and relations between Muslims and Christians.
Officials from the university and local Muslim community were present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new renovated space in Plassmann Hall. The CAIS had operated in the John J. Murphy Professional Building since launching in 2015.
Father Michael Calabria, director of the CAIS, said the decision to relocate to Plassmann Hall and within the university's Modern Languages Department was made last spring. He noted it's a homecoming of sorts, as Plassmann Hall housed the first Arabic courses ever taught at St. Bonaventure in 2004.
Contributions from St. Bonaventure Arabic instructor Wardia Hart and her husband John were noted as being instrumental in the renovation of the new location. Other community members also contributed furniture and artwork, officials added.
At Wednesday's ceremony, Islamic Society of the Southern Tier trustees presented the CAIS with a $10,000 check.
The society and other community members previously committed gifts totaling nearly $70,000 to the CAIS, St. Bonaventure announced in 2016. The Al-Humadi family was among those who donated and also helped found the CAIS. Their gift established the center's Dr. Adil and Jehan Al-Humadi Lecture Series in 2015.
Officials noted the CAIS — through its courses, lectures and research — highlights Arabic and Islamic historical and contemporary contributions to society, and promotes better relations between Muslims and the rest of the world.