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Nov. 3, 2008
Media Contact: John Blacksten, firstname.lastname@example.org 703-993-9376
Gift helps Mason achieve a leadership role in the field of Islamic studies
FAIRFAX, Va.,—George Mason University announces the receipt of a $1.5 million gift from the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) to recruit a leading senior scholar to serve as an endowed chair in Islamic studies. The gift will allow Mason to build upon the rich Islamic culture present in its diverse student body, faculty and the surrounding communities and position the university as a leading authority in the field of Islamic studies.
The position will be based within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). Together with current faculty in the Islamic studies program, the new chair will work toward developing of a full, multidisciplinary academic program that encompasses teaching, research and public outreach.
"George Mason University and CHSS would like to thank IIIT for its generous gift, said Jack Censer, dean of CHSS. "As this appointment focuses on Islam from a global perspective, it will facilitate more teaching and scholarship in an area that the university has already identified as a spire of excellence. We plan to enhance the study of global trends, enabled in part by this new chair."
Mason's program in Islamic studies will focus on developing an understanding of Islam's role in the development of world civilization and global culture in fields such as philosophy, literature and the sciences, as well as the dynamics surrounding the Muslim world's interactions with other cultures.
"We are profoundly grateful to IIIT for its very generous support of Islamic studies at the university at this important time in the life of the program," said Maria Dakake, associate professor of religious studies at Mason. "Adding an endowed chair in Islamic studies, gives considerable weight and prestige to the program and provides Mason with a strong base on which to grow and develop an academically rigorous, interdisciplinary program."
"The study of Islam within the context of a global human civilization is essential to an understanding of the critical issues of our times," said Jamal Barzinji, IIIT vice president. "IIIT proudly provides this gift to fund a chair in Islamic studies to help Mason lead the way in studying Islam and Muslim societies as dynamic living phenomena contributing to ideas and ideals that help human advancement."
Mason currently offers an Islamic studies minor and a new Middle East studies program. In addition, the university has a growing Ras al-Khaimah Campus in the United Arab Emirates.
About the International Institute of Islamic Thought
The International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) was established in 1981 as a private, non-profit, academic and cultural institution dedicated to promoting research, publications and conferences related to Islamic thought and contemporary social sciences. The Institute has become a forum through which Muslim scholars have rekindled an ongoing debate on Islamic intellectual endeavor and thought.
About George Mason University
Named the #1 national university to watch by U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in the heart of Northern Virginia’s technology corridor near Washington, D.C., Mason prepares its students to succeed in the work force and meet the needs of the region and the world. With strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, dance, organizational psychology and health care, Mason students are routinely recognized with national and international scholarships. Mason professors conduct groundbreaking research in areas such as cancer, climate change, information technology and the biosciences, and Mason's Center for the Arts brings world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage.