Disputes Leave the Middle East Center at the U. of Utah in Turmoil





Controversial faculty reassignments and resignations in March of this year, following other disputes, have left the Middle East Center at the University of Utah in turmoil. The tumult comes only a year before the university must reapply for the grant from the U.S. Department of Education that supports the center, which is among the oldest such academic units in the country.

In mid-March, Robert D. Newman, dean of the College of Humanities, removed two professors from joint appointments to the Middle East Center. The professors, Peter J. Sluglett, a historian and an expert on Iraq, and Harris Lenowitz, a scholar of Hebrew in the languages and literature department, are both veterans in their fields.

In a letter to Mr. Lenowitz, who has served in the center for 35 years, the dean wrote: "It has come to my attention that you have contributed consistently toward creating an atmosphere in the Middle East Center that lacks collegiality and can no longer be tolerated."

Both Mr. Sluglett and Mr. Lenowitz were reassigned full time to their home departments. But the decision quickly triggered the resignations of Ibrahim A. Karawan, a professor of political science and director of the center since 2000, and Peter von Sivers, an associate professor of history, who served as the center's associate director. As the university searches for a new director, the center will be run by interim managers: an associate dean and two co-chairs of the department of languages and literature—who specialize in German, Russian, and Spanish....



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