Letter: Middle East Center will not soon recover

By and


I was disappointed to hear about the recent resignation of Ibrahim Karawan from the head of the Middle East Center at the U (“Karawan resigns after Middle East Center dismissals,” April 3). From what I can gather from The Chronicle’s story Thursday, he resigned in defense of two department colleagues who were, in his view, unjustly dismissed.

I am currently a student of Karawan in his advanced Arabic class. I have also been a student of his in the political science department when he taught Mideast International Relations.

Karawan is unequivocally one of the most caring and competent professors I have ever had the opportunity to learn from — here or at any other institution. Not only is the breadth and depth of his knowledge astounding, but he has a great reputation and many contacts that have heavily benefited the university.

I remember going to hear New York Times opinion columnist and Middle East specialist Tom Friedman speak at Kingsbury Hall in the weeks after Sept. 11, where he attributed his visit to requests “from his good friend Ibrahim.”

It is largely due to Karawan’s hard work that the U has consistently garnered federal funding for the Middle East Center since his appointment as its chair.

Finally, I wish to say that after all my dealings with him, I have never known Karawan to ever become frustrated with anyone. For Dean Newman to have drawn the ire of such a patient, good-humored and intelligent individual is surely indicative that somewhere in his dealings with Peter Sluglett and Harris Lenowitz, Newman acted inappropriately. Lastly, were I not leaving the U after this semester, I would be even more upset. To have lost the leadership of Karawan, as well as the talents of professors Sluglett and Lenowitz,

is a blow from which the university’s Middle East program will not soon recover.

Nicholas BarkerU Alum 2002