Arts & Humanities

Utah State University Exhibit to Highlight History of Iranian Students

A portion of a Baskerville Institute mural commemorates U.S.-Iran relations.

A new exhibition at Utah State University will spotlight Iranian international students who attended USU. In conjunction with the Baskerville Institute and faculty and students in the Department of Political Science, USU’s Special Collections will exhibit photographs, letters and articles celebrating a hundred years of USU and Iran relations.

Jacob Sagers, a junior majoring in political science and French, has been working with Special Collections and Archives and Baskerville to assemble the “USU and Iran: 100 Years of People-to-people Relations” exhibit. During March, a selection of photographs and letters reflecting the Iranian experience at USU will be on display in the Merrill-Cazier Library atrium on the Logan campus.

USU and Baskerville recently signed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, to make online educational material available to Iranian students through the Baskerville Institute Digital Friendship platform. The signing of the MOU marked the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Iranian students at USU. The exhibit will commemorate this anniversary.

“We are excited to partner with the Baskerville Institute to engage with Iranian students and foster an exchange of ideas,” said Joseph P. Ward, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at USU. “This MOU builds on the rich history between USU and Iran and demonstrates our commitment to providing high-quality education to students worldwide.”

In 1912, then-President of USU John Widtsoe met Mirza Ali Gholi (Kuli) Khan, Persian chargeĀ“ d'affaires to the United States, at a conference in Canada. The two men became friends, and Widtsoe invited Ali Gholi Khan to give USU's Baccalaureate address in 1915. Ali Gholi Khan was so impressed by Widtsoe's hospitality that he arranged for four students from Iran to come to USU in 1923.

Over the years, the relationship between USU and Iran grew, with the university becoming one of the Truman Administration's Point Four Program institutions and providing technical expertise and support for Iranian agriculture and rural development. By the time of the 1978-1979 Iranian Revolution, USU had one of the largest communities of Iranian students in the U.S. Today, the university has one of the largest Iranian alumni networks, including former ambassadors, cabinet ministers and experts in engineering, agriculture and water management.

The Baskerville Institute is a nonprofit organization located in Salt Lake City. It is named after Howard Baskerville, a Presbyterian missionary who went to Iran to teach and later joined the Constitutionalist forces to fight for Iranian democracy, subsequently dying in the struggle. He is revered by many Iranians today, and the Institute’s mission is to strengthen the bonds of friendship between Americans and Iranians.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with USU to make educational material available to Iranian students,” said Baskerville Institute Executive Director Bahman Baktiari. “It is a testament to the power of friendship and the importance of educational exchange.” An exhibit reception will be at 4 p.m. March 21 in the library.

A cornerstone of Utah State University, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences brings together faculty members engaged in original research and creative activities to teach and mentor students who aspire to be leaders in their professions and communities. Degrees in humanities and social sciences cultivate highly adaptable professional skills in students through teaching effective communication, research, data analysis, and creative problem-solving.

CONTACT

Colin Flint
Distinguished Professor of Political Geography
College of Humanities and Social Sciences
435-797-5962
colin.flint@usu.edu


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