October 11, 2015, Washington, DC — Iranian American philanthropist Bita Daryabari recently donated $1.5 million to University of California, Davis to amplify its Persian Studies program. Daryabari has also donated to both Stanford University and Pembroke College (an affiliate of University of Cambridge) for the purpose of expanding the teaching of Iranian history, culture, and language.
Combined with an additional $500,000 from UC Davis, the donation will establish the Bita Daryabari Presidential Chair in Persian Language and Literature, which will be awarded to a distinguished Iranian studies scholar to conduct research and to teach. The donation will also support a colloquium on Iranian culture. Daryabari hopes that her donation will get students interested in learning about Iran, and eventually culminate into an official Iranian Studies major at UC Davis. “ I want this gift to bring insight to Iranian culture and literature,” Daryabari says, “Persia is known for its poets and poetry, and so much more. Similar to what I have done at Stanford and at Cambridge, I wanted to support a program at UC Davis that shows the real role of Iranian studies and Persian literature and poetry, and a real appreciation of Iranian culture.”
Daryabari’s activism extends past educational endowments. Earlier this year, she founded the Daryabari Iranian Community Center in San Jose, CA, which provides legal and social services in Farsi to immigrants and refugees who speak the language. The Center provides job placement, income tax help, English lessons, yoga, and computer classes instructed in Farsi. The Community Center builds off her earlier Pars Equality Center, designed to help Iranians battle discrimination after the attacks on September 11, 2001.