NEW YORK, February 26, 2013—When Iranian scholar Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh spoke at Rutgers University today about her work advocating for the rights of women in Iran, she provided powerful and seldom-heard insights into life in her home country.
"Being in prison is a part of being a women's rights activist in Iran," she told the assembled students and faculty members. "It is important to have an opportunity to say what is really going on there."
Ms. Abbasgholizadeh, a visiting scholar at the Institute for Women’s Leadership, is the first in a series of scholars who will be hosted by Rutgers in the coming years through a partnership with the Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund. This unique collaboration was made possible by a generous contribution to the Rutgers University Foundation from the Angelson Family Foundation and its Chairman, Mark Angelson, Rutgers College '72 and Rutgers Law School '75.
Ms. Abbasgholizadeh is a notable writer, video journalist, filmmaker and women’s rights activist from Iran. Her early academic research examined Islamic Sharia law from a Muslim feminist perspective and later grew to focus on women’s empowerment and social mobilization, especially through the media. Known for her leading role in the women’s movement in Iran, Ms. Abbasgholizadeh endured many years of interrogations and arrests by Iranian officials before leaving Iran for Europe and eventually the United States. Today, she continues her important work from abroad by teaching about the roles of women and media in social movements, especially in the Muslim world, and by serving as Director of Zanan TV, an alternative online media space for women.
She is one of nearly 500 scholars who have been assisted by the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF), which provides academic fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These year-long fellowships permit professors, researchers and public intellectuals to find temporary refuge at universities, colleges and research centers anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work in safety and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues and the community. Rutgers’ Institute for Women’s Leadership viewed hosting threatened scholars as an important opportunity to bring an unusual international perspective to the university while also providing safe haven for the IIE-SRF scholars, but they needed financial support to provide matching funding.
Fortunately, Rutgers and the Scholar Rescue Fund share a mutual friend who is deeply committed to both institutions. Mark Angelson, Chairman of NewPage Corporation and formerly the Deputy Mayor of Chicago, stepped in to provide the funding needed to host several scholars in the years to come. Mr. Angelson is the Chairman of the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund and the Treasurer of IIE’s Board of Trustees. He is also a Rutgers graduate and recipient of the 2013 Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni Award, which is bestowed by Rutgers and the Rutgers University Alumni Association in recognition of alumni whose achievements in professional and civic life have brought honor to themselves and the university.
“The partnership between Rutgers and the Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund, supporting threatened scholars in the safe pursuit of their work at a great university, is the paradigm of our humanitarian and academic mission," said Mr. Angelson. “I am confident that the collaboration will have a ripple effect that will benefit current and future Rutgers students and faculty as well as IIE-SRF scholars. In a very concrete way, this collaboration and these scholars advance the cause of academic freedom throughout the world.”
Alison Bernstein, director of the Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL), a consortium of teaching, research, and public service units of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, said, “The Institute for Women’s Leadership is pleased that Rutgers’ first IIE Scholar Rescue Fund fellow is an advocate for women’s rights. Ms. Abbasgholizadeh’s work on gender uses the most contemporary social media to bring light to practices that deny the dignity and freedom of women.”
Through important collaborations with donors and academic institutions across the globe, the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, has saved the lives and careers of nearly 500 threatened academics around the world. Mr. Angelson recently became Chairman of the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund, succeeding Henry Jarecki, who was a founder of the Fund and served as Chairman for the first 10 years. The Angelson Family Foundation previously supported important IIE initiatives such as the Patrick J. Leahy Chair of IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund and the Fulbright Legacy Fund and is an underwriter of the annual IIE Gala.
IIE President and CEO Allan E. Goodman said, "We are privileged that Mark Angelson has agreed to bring his considerable talent and management experience to leading the Scholar Rescue Fund. IIE has been privileged to benefit from his knowledge and expertise as a member of the IIE-SRF scholar Selection Committee throughout his tenure as a Trustee, and we are deeply grateful now for his leadership as Chairman and for his vision and generosity in expanding our university partnerships through this key gift to Rutgers.”
IIE has been a world leader in the rescue of persecuted scholars since its founding in 1919. During the 1930s, IIE's Assistant Director, Edward R. Murrow, worked to rescue more than 300 threatened European scholars, several of whom went on to win Nobel Prizes. In 2002, IIE and co-founders Henry Kaufman, Thomas Russo and Henry Jarecki formalized IIE’s commitment to protecting threatened and persecuted academics by launching IIE-SRF to respond quickly to crises affecting scholars around the world. IIE-SRF has been supported by prominent international philanthropic institutions, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, and the U.S. Department of State.
Hosting international scholars is one component of a comprehensive internationalization effort at Rutgers, spearheaded by the university’s Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers). Rutgers has also participated in IIE’s International Academic Partnership Program, taking part in strategic planning activities and delegations to Brazil, India, and Myanmar, led by IIE’s Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education.
About the Institute of International Education
IIE is a world leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,200 member institutions. IIE designs and implements programs of study and training for students, educators, young professionals and trainees from all sectors with funding from government agencies, foundations, and corporations. IIE also conducts policy research and program evaluations, and provides advising and counseling on international education and opportunities abroad. IIE's Center for International Partnerships in Higher Education assists higher education institutions in developing and sustaining partnerships around the world. Some of its major initiatives include the International Academic Partnership Program (IAPP) and the IIE Global Partnership Service (GPS).
About IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund
The Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for established scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit professors, researchers and public intellectuals to find temporary refuge at universities, colleges and research centers anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work in safety and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues and the community. In its first 10 years, SRF has provided fellowships to nearly 500 remarkable scholars from 48 countries, including leading an effort of historic proportion to save the intellectual capital of Iraq. The Iraq Scholar Rescue Project has saved the lives and work of more than 265 of Iraq’s most senior and threatened academics in a wide range of academic disciplines through temporary academic positions at universities, colleges and other institutions of higher learning in the Middle East and North African regions.