MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
Wali Ahmadi, Chair, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures
Dear MELC Faculty, Staff, and Students: There has been a long tradition in our department to hold a welcome party at the start of the academic year for incoming undergraduate and graduate students as well as our new faculty. This is the second time in a row that, because of the pandemic, in lieu of a welcome party, we are offering our warmest greetings to everyone in writing.
For most of us, this past year was undoubtedly a most difficult time in many respects. As students, scholars, and staff we had to overcome numerous and unprecedented challenges. Not only we had to preserve our health – and sanity – we had to remain engaged and committed to what we do best, namely, carrying on with our studies, research, and scholarship. Our students must be commended for their understanding, hard-work, and diligence. Together, we were able to cooperatively get through some real rough waters in less than optimal conditions. It is so wonderful to see that our undergraduate students are thriving and our graduate students continue to demonstrate superior quality of scholarship that enable them to shine in their fields of study.
We start this academic year under a new department name. After deliberate and careful discussion in part of the faculty, it was decided that the name of our department should be changed from Near Eastern Studies to Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (MELC). The University administration proved extremely cooperative and the transition was made smoothly and efficiently. We believe that MELC better captures what we are engaged in our scholarly endeavors within various subfields of the study of Middle Eastern languages, cultures, civilization, and history. I am happy to announce that the project to remodel the department library (8A and 8B) to house our collections of Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, and Turkish books is nearing its completion. My predecessor, Professor Chessie Rochberg, carefully oversaw the project every step of the way, for which we are grateful to her. She and I are elated that our students once again will have the opportunity to use the upgraded, better equipped department library. Once again, I wish everyone a very healthy and productive year ahead!