The immense academic experience that students interested in the wider world receive at the University of Oklahoma is set to get even more in depth as OU recently announced that it has plans on adding a Center for Iranian and Persian Gulf Studies. Thanks in part to a $4 million donation by the Farzaneh Family Foundation, future Sooners will have an opportunity to develop a better cultural understanding, appreciation and awareness of the United States and its relations with Iran and the Middle East.

The gift is the largest of its kind in the university’s history from former students who came to OU from international destinations. Brothers Jalal and Mohammad Farzaneh are both graduates of OU, holding bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Norman-based institution. They own one of Oklahoma’s most well known home construction companies, Home Creations. They came to Oklahoma in 1978 from Iran.

According to the report in the Oklahoman newspaper, “The gift will 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.”

Read more the full story online here.

This isn’t the first time the Farzanehs have supported higher education in Oklahoma. In February 2015, they made a gift of $1.6 million to Oklahoma State University which will support a faculty chair and four professorships in Iranian and Persian Gulf studies. According to OSU, the total impact will be more than $6 million after adding the matching funds from Boone Pickens and the Oklahoma Legislature.


The University of Oklahoma’s College of International Studies will be hosting a wide ranging presidential dream course this fall examining the balance between energy, climate change and security concerns across the globe.

Four guest speakers will take part in the course:

  • September 8, 2015 at 12 p.m. inside the Oklahoma Memorial Union, Scholars Room – Dr. Daniel Ahn, Senior Advisor to the chief economist at the U.S. State Department examines the role of energy revenues in empowering the Islamic State (ISIS) and fueling conflict throughout the Middle East.
  • September 17, 2015 at 12 p.m. at the Oklahoma Memorial Union, Regents Room – Professor in Public Policy at the Central European University, Andreas Goldthau, will discuss the status of the European Union’s regulatory framework and global political economy.
  • October 15, 2015 at 12 p.m. in the Oklahoma Memorial Union, Regents Room – Edward Morse, Managing Director and Head of Global Commodities Research at Citigroup Global Markets Inc., will give a presentation on the ongoing shifts in the global energy order in a time of seismic shifts.
  • November 17, 2015 at 6 p.m. at Zarrow Hall, J.J. Ryhne Room – David Victor, Director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation School of International Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of California, San Diego will discuss the  history of collective action on climate change and strategies that might be more effective to combating it in the future.

RSVPs are required prior to all events with The lectures are free and open to the public. To learn more about the lecture series or the college of international studies, please visit–climate-and-security.html.


For many undergraduates hailing from the state that is the namesake of the University of Central Oklahoma, their time on campus is often a first chance to interact with fellow students from across the globe. At first glance, Edmond, Okla. does not appear to be a hotbed of international culture, but the presence of international students and faculty at one of the state’s oldest higher learning institutions fosters an inviting atmosphere for learning and cultural exchanges.

According to an article in the Edmond Sun, UCO’s international students hail from 84 countries and make up nine percent of the student body a total of 1,525 international students; 67 percent of those come from Saudi Arabia, China, Korea, Nepal and Vietnam.

From the Edmond Sun:

“UCO is a great place for international students — it stands out as a first class university in a growing metropolitan area. In addition to the amenities Central’s location offers, it is the only university in the state with an International House, which focuses on bringing American students and international students together for understanding and friendship,” said Dennis Dunham, Ph.D., executive director of the Office of Global Affairs at Central.

The university’s ranks thirteenth in the latest Open Doors Institute of International Education Report, is the only institution in the state to be ranked in the top 40.

According to Open Doors latest data from 2014 on Oklahoma, the state is ranked twenty seventh out of fifty one (including the District of Columbia) in terms of the number of international students, a total of 8,913 persons. Oklahoma State University (2,324 students), the University of Oklahoma (1,985 students), the University of Tulsa (1,291 students) and Oklahoma City University (401 students) are the state’s other top institutions for international students. Chinese nationals make up the largest contingent of those studying in the Sooner State at 23.6 percent.

To read the full article about UCO’s ranking as a top destination for international students in Oklahoma, please click here.

Old North at UCO – Photo courtesy DrinkOmega at Wikipedia Commons.