The Persian studies program has been reinstated at Portland State after a 20-year hiatus, and the Middle Eastern studies program is celebrating its return with a Saturday banquet hosting keynote speaker Ambassador John Limbert.
Limbert was the focus of media attention in 1979 as one of the people held hostage in Iran.
President of the Foreign Service Association in Washington, D.C., Limbert was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Iran and a U.S. Embassy Staff member in Tehran.
John Damis, PSU’s Middle Eastern studies coordinator, was a vital player in bringing the Persian Studies program back to PSU, as well as bringing Limbert to the Saturday banquet.
PSU’s Middle Eastern program offered Arabic, Turkish and Hebrew but was weak in Persian studies.
Damis asked and received an external grant to fund Persian studies and arranged for a foreign language teaching assistant from Iran to come to PSU this year.
Damis met Limbert when they were both asked to brief the ambassador designate of Morocco on the West Sahara Issue, and has kept in touch with Limbert ever since.
Limbert will speak on U.S.-Iran relations at 8 p.m. in Hoffmann Hall on Saturday.