In 2012, William Rutherford, a 1961 graduate of UO’s History Department, made a three-year monetary commitment to the university in order to promote the study of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) on campus. Rutherford, who holds a law degree from Harvard and served as Oregon treasurer from 1984-1987, believes that the MENA region is of strategic importance globally and has a rich and diverse history that university students should understand and appreciate.
Dr. Diane Baxter, Anthropology and the Conflict Resolution Program, became the Director of the Rutherford Middle East Initiative. With input from deans, faculty, and students, Baxter led the effort to examine and implement the following:
- Development of an introductory undergraduate course in Middle East Studies.
- Consultation among UO faculty on the aims, content and design of a Middle East studies minor.
- Course development support for UO faculty who want to design or redesign courses that might fit into a Middle East studies minor.
- Visits by guest speakers and other events to promote public awareness of the initiative and to gather expert perspectives on Middle East studies programs at other leading research universities.
- Outreach to international students from the Middle East, and to interested UO student groups such as the Arab Student Union, the Muslim Student Association and the Jewish Student Union.
All of the above have been implemented over the past three years, the most significant of which is the new (September, 2016) MENA minor.
Rutherford has provided an additional year of funding which will bring additional speakers to campus, offer funding to students doing study abroad in the MENA region as well as administrative work for the initiative.
Rutherford, who also holds a law degree from Harvard, served as Oregon treasurer from 1984 to 1987 and is currently president of Rutherford Investment Management, a Portland-based investment firm.
Our sincerest thanks go to William Rutherford.