Recently I interviewed our wonderful professor, Dr. Claudia Yaghoobi, about her appointment as the new inaugural Director of Persian Studies here at UNC. This was the multilayered question I asked her:
In your appointment letter, which I was given to read by Lori prior to this interview, [our dean] stated that you have a “terrific track record” (we here in DAMES obviously agree!) in building the Persian Studies program on campus. How will your new appointment impact your current endeavors? Are there projects you’ve been working on that will expand as a result of the appointment, for instance? In the letter, one of your duties is stated as “continuing to elevate the profile of Persian Studies,” and to you, does that mean a campus-specific approach, or do you intend to go farther by reaching beyond the boundaries of UNC itself?
Below is Dr. Yaghoobi’s reply and thoughts on her new appointment:
As part of my responsibilities as the director, I would be promoting research, scholarly opportunity, and artistic exchange related to Persian Studies on the UNC campus. This entails organizing scholarly events, promoting speakers, supporting exhibitions, and developing workshops that strengthen the community of faculty, students, and staff pursuing Persianate Studies. For these events, I identify and pursue external funding opportunities to support programming. However, this is what I was already doing before this appointment. What changes with the appointment is the need for me to engage in fundraising efforts both for programming and for supporting graduate students, holding meetings with the Persian Studies Advisory Committee to solicit input, overseeing Roshan graduate student fellowship, ensuring the breadth of curricular offerings, and consulting with Vice Provost of Global Affairs on university-wide about alignments between Persian Studies and the university’s global unit.
The most significant change that this appointment embodies is the coordination aspect of it – what I mean is that we have Persian Studies faculty, students, and funding in various units and departments on campus. With this appointment, there is a director to coordinate all of them and receive feedback and support from all.
One of my priorities for this academic year was to establish a Persian Studies Advisory Committee which we did and held a meeting a few weeks ago. With the Advisory Committee’s input, we have formalized a co-sponsorship procedure where we would be happy to fund and/or co-sponsor Persian-related events. We have also discussed how to hold a celebratory event for Nowruz or Persian New Year, and other events this year. We have created a coherent annual lecture series around specific themes. We have also discussed strategies for fundraising this and next academic year – in short, the committee has already been actively working towards our shared goals.
The next project on my list is to highlight the committee members’ research, teaching, and service at UNC. To do this, I have asked the committee members to prepare brief 2-minute videos introducing themselves and their work. The goal of these videos is to introduce the Persian Studies committee to campus, the broader community, and potential donors. These videos will be posted on the Persian Studies Facebook page, on social media, and on the campus webpage.
Congratulations on the new appointment, Dr. Yaghoobi! We’re so fortunate to have you here in DAMES!