Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute supports UArizona graduate students and faculty with $2.5M

Aug. 1, 2022

The grant will fund a professorship in Iranian linguistics and graduate student fellowships in Persian and Iranian studies.


A portion of the grant will establish the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Professorship in Iranian Linguistics, which will initially be held by UArizona linguistics professor Simin Karimi, pictured here.

A $2.5 million charitable grant to the University of Arizona from Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute will advance scholarship in Persian and Iranian studies and support an endowed professorship and graduate student fellowships.

A portion of the grant – which comes from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation – will establish the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Professorship in Iranian Linguistics, which will initially be held by linguistics professor Simin Karimi. The remaining $1 million will fund the Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali Graduate Fellowships in Persian and Iranian Studies. Both the professorship and fellowships are endowed and will permanently support faculty and graduate students in these areas. 

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The professorship and fellowships are named for the founder and chair of Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, a private foundation focused on preservation, transmission and instruction of Persian language and culture.

"The study of languages and cultures is vital to understanding the rich diversity of an increasingly globalized world," said University of Arizona President  Robert C. Robbins. "I am incredibly grateful that Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute has once again invested in the University of Arizona, helping us to build a world-class program in Persian and Iranian studies, advance critical research, and train the next generation of scholars."

Over the past 20 years, Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute has invested $6.35 million at UArizona. It has supported the creation of the Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program in Persian and Iranian Studies, housed in the Graduate College, as well as graduate fellowships and four endowed faculty positions.

"During my time as dean, I have witnessed how grants from Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute have elevated the stature and impact of the university's strong Persian and Iranian studies program," said John Paul Jones III, who is completing his 12-year term as the Don Bennett Moon Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences this month. "By supporting both faculty and students, this transformative new grant places the University of Arizona in the top tier of universities in Persian and Iranian studies. I am deeply grateful to Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and Dr. Elahé Omidyar Mir-Djalali for their vision and generosity."

Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute founder Mir-Djalali, who was born in Iran, is a renowned linguist and expert in language education, cross-cultural communication and Persian studies. Mir-Djalali received a doctorate in linguistics from Paris-Sorbonne University.

"We are delighted to once again partner with the University of Arizona and strengthen our support through the establishment of this new endowed professorship in linguistics and for graduate student fellowships," Mir-Djalali said. "This endowment will foster and fortify the graduate study of Persian and Iranian languages and linguistics and would place the university's Roshan Graduate Interdisciplinary Program as one of the largest and most prominent Persian programs in the U.S. I personally am proud to have witnessed all the great work this university has contributed over the years to promote and preserve Persian language and culture and look forward to the impact it will have on future generations of faculty and students for years to come."

"Support from organizations like Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute are vital to the university's research enterprise," said John-Paul Roczniak, president and CEO of the University of Arizona Foundation. "Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute has steadily invested in the University of Arizona program for 20 years, establishing endowments that enabled it to grow in stature and will sustain it for decades to come."

Read more on the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences website.