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OU President Boren Announces Gift to Name Farzaneh Hall and Unveils Omar Khayyám Sculpture

Omar Khayyám Sculpture

3-30-16

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NORMAN – The University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren today announced a $4 million gift for the College of International Studies, and the establishment of a new center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies.

This major gift is from The Farzaneh Family Foundation, brothers and OU alums Jalal Farzaneh and Mohammad Farzaneh, founders of the Oklahoma-based company Home Creations.

“The University of Oklahoma is deeply grateful to the Farzaneh family for this generous gift which places OU at the forefront in Iranian and Middle Eastern Studies,” said OU President David L. Boren. “It is believed to be the largest gift in the university’s history from those who came to OU as international students. The Farzaneh’s are active leaders in our OU family.”

In appreciation of this gift, Boren said he will recommend to the OU Board of Regents that they recognize the donors by naming the hall and the center, where the college is housed, in honor of the Farzaneh Family.

The brothers came to Oklahoma from Iran in 1978 to study at OU, with both earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture. Together they have been generous donors not only to OU, but to Iranian Studies across the state of Oklahoma.

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. The center also will include an academic major in Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies, establishing OU as one of the premiere academic institutions for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies within the United States. 

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 been a generous donor to OU with gifts valuing more than $8 million. Previous gifts have provided resources to establish a reception suite for the offices of Education Abroad and International Student Services. This suite provides an inviting space to help OU students, both domestic and international, feel at home. The family previously endowed the Farzaneh Family Chair in Iranian Studies. In addition they also contributed $1 million to establish an endowed fund, for the Farzaneh Family Professor in Iranian Studies, as well as the Farzaneh Family Language Instructor for Persian (Farsi) Language.

At the announcement, Boren also unveiled one of OU’s newest pieces of artwork, “Omar Khayyám,” inspired by the Persian polymath, mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet of the Islamic Golden Age. Khayyám was born in 1048 AD in Nishapur, in northeastern Iran. Scholars believe he wrote about 1,000 four-line verses of poetry known as rubaiyat, which have been translated into dozens of languages. Khayyám died in 1131 A.D. and is buried in the Khayyám Garden in Nishapur.

The sculpture stands more than seven feet tall and its stone originates from the city of Azna located in the province of Lorestan, Iran. Khayyám is holding a globe signifying his contributions to astronomy, as well as the numbers representing his developments in binomial theorems and Algebra. The book located at the bottom of the sculpture is a representation of Khayyam’s famed poetry.

The sculpture was made possible by internationally noted sculptor, Professor Hossein Fakhimi. He earned a Ph.D. from Madrid Fine Arts (Completexia University) and is a founder of the Iranian Organization of Scientific and Industrial Research. Fakhimi conducted two years of study prior to carving “Omar Khayyám,” because he wanted to capture the varying aspects of Khayyám’s character. 

The OU College of International Studies houses the Department of International and Area Studies, the Office of Education Abroad, the Office of International Student Services, and offices supporting the OU study centers in Arezzo, Italy; Puebla, Mexico; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Together, these offices, departments and centers, faculty and staff work to provide a range of opportunities for students to learn about the global community in which they live.

The college offers undergraduate degree programs in Asian Studies, European Studies, International Studies, International Security Studies, Latin American Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Russian and East European Studies. The college also offers a Master of Arts in International Studies, a Master of Arts in Global Affairs and a Master of Arts in International Relations. Students in the OU College of Law also have the option of pursuing a joint Juris Doctorate/Master of Arts in International Studies degree.

If you would like more information about the OU College of International Studies, please contact cis@ou.edu.

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