University Affairs

Notable Alum Ardeshir Zahedi Remembered for Service to his Country and Love of USU

Utah State University notable alum and donor, Ardeshir Zahedi, died on November 18 in Switzerland. He was 93.

Globally celebrated as a lifelong champion of world peace and understanding, Zahedi shaped more than three decades of geopolitical history. Twice he served as Iran’s ambassador to the United States.

“Ardeshir has had an incredible impact on global peace throughout his lifetime,” said USU President Noelle E. Cockett. “He reached across the world and made a difference. We will be forever grateful for his foresight and humility, as well as his generosity to USU.”

Zahedi’s widely respected and far-reaching influence and diplomacy were also hallmarks of his service as ambassador to the United Kingdom’s Court of St. James, Iran’s foreign minister, and head of the Iranian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. He worked closely with seven U.S. presidents, entertained countless iconic artists and celebrities and still once proclaimed, “I was born at Utah State University.”

“Ardeshir Zahedi is probably the most internationally distinguished graduate of Utah State University and he truly loved this university and Cache Valley,” said Ken White, dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. “He was a remarkable man and he credited Utah State and his experiences here as the start of the good things that happened in his life. We are grateful for his love and support. His compassionate deeds will live on after him and I hope that generations of students will appreciate his generous spirit and extraordinary life.”

After leaving his home in Iran to study at Utah State University in 1947, Zahedi later graduated in 1950 with a bachelor’s in animal science. He then returned to tumultuous times in Iran, where he shaped the country’s modern political history while serving as an aid to his father, the prime minister, and as adviser, confidant, son-in-law and friend to the last Shah of Iran. His maternal grandfather served as the first prime minister of Iran.

After graduating, Zahedi’s deeply held feelings and support for Utah State University remained constant. He gave back to the university in numerous ways, including creating the Ambassador Ardeshir Zahedi International Endowment in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, and contributing to various additional scholarships across the university. He was inducted into the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences Alumni Hall of Honor in July 2002 and received a Distinguished Service Award from the USU Alumni Association in 2007.

“In the nine years that I have known him, he has been much more than a donor, he has become a dear friend,” White added. “But he was like that with everyone. He was like a magnet who just drew people to him, and they went away feeling better and buoyed up from spending time with him.”


Janette Robbins
Director of Strategic Communications



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