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Haleh Esfandiari to Speak at UNA Commencement
Nov. 22, 2010



FLORENCE, Ala. – American-Iranian author and director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Dr. Haleh Esfandiari will speak to the University of North Alabama fall 2010 graduating class Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in Flowers Hall.

One of the top authorities on Iran in the United States, Esfandiari served as deputy secretary general of the Women’s Organization of Iran prior to teaching at Princeton University from 1980-1994, where she taught courses on the Persian language, contemporary Persian literature and the women’s movement in Iran.

Esfandiari, who at one time worked as a journalist in Iran and taught at the College of Mass Communication in Tehran, was arrested by Iranian security authorities in 2007 and detained for 105 days after being accused of violating Iran’s national security. After her release in August 2007, Esfandiari wrote a memoir, “My Prison, My Home,” which was published Oct. 1.

“When President Cale and I looked at possible commencement speakers, we tried to look for someone who would inspire provocative thoughts in our graduates,” said David Shields, UNA vice president for student affairs. “She provides a profile of courage and leadership and inspires graduates to be champions with a great responsibility to help the world.”

A writer and editor of dozens of books since the 1970s, Esfandiari is the author of “Reconstructed Lives: Women and Iran’s Islamic Revolution,” editor of “Iranian Woman: Past, Present and Future” and co-editor of “The Economic Dimensions of Middle Eastern History.”

Esfandiari is also the first recipient of an annual award in her name, which was presented to her by a group of businesswomen and activists in the Middle East and North Africa regions. In addition, she has been awarded a Women’s Equality Award from the National Council of Women’s Organizations in 2008, an honorary degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2008, a Miss Hall’s School Woman of Distinction Award in 2009 and is one of the three first annual recipients of the Project on Middle East Democracy’s Leader for Democracy award.