On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma unveiled a marble statue of Persian philosopher and scientist ‘Omar Khayyam’, an 11th-century poet, astronomer, scholar and mathematician. Carved by the well-known Iranian sculptor, Hossein Fakhimi, the statue depicts Khayyam with a globe that contains constellations representing his contributions to astronomy, algebra and poetry and symbolizes Iran’s cultural and scientific contributions to the entire world over the centuries.
The unveiling ceremony was in commemoration of the establishment of a Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies, thanks to a $4 million gift from the Farzaneh Family Foundation which Oklahoma University President David Boren announced, “is believed to be the largest gift in the university’s history from those who came to OU as international students.” President Boren commended Mohammad and Jalal Farzaneh for being “active leaders in our OU family.”
In his appreciation of the statue and its symbolic significance, President Boren said “This statue will stand on our campus for years and decades and hopefully centuries to come as a reminder to us of the role that a university is to play in society,” he said. “The role that a university should play in broadening our horizons and in deepening our understandings of other people and in building bridges between people of different countries and different societies.”
Dean Suzette Grillot made similar statements that the statue stands as an inspiration for friendship and understanding between the people of Iran and the people of the United States.
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. It will include an academic major in Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies.
The gift will also 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.
PAAIA applauds members Jalal and Mohammad Farzaneh for their invaluable contributions to achieving cultural understanding between Iran and the United States.