April 21, 2005

Microtechnology Pioneer Fariborz Maseeh and his foundation give &2 Million to establish UCI center for Persian studies and culture


First of Its Kind in the UC System, Center Is Envisioned as a National
Resource that Elevates and Advances Persian Studies

Irvine, Calif., April 21, 2005 - Microtechnology pioneer Fariborz Maseeh
and the Massiah Foundation have pledged $2 million to create an
innovative interdisciplinary research center at UC Irvine that will
bring together scholars in Persian history, language, culture, arts and

The Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture -- named
after a missionary in the early 1900s who became a leading educational
figure in Iran -- will be the first interdisciplinary center in the
University of California system dedicated entirely to Persian studies
not based in a department of Near East or Middle East studies. In
partnership with the university, Maseeh envisions creating a leading
resource for advancing scholarship about Persian culture at a critical
juncture in world affairs.

"We live in an increasingly interdependent world that demands mutual
understanding," Maseeh said. "Our goal is to establish a beacon of
knowledge about Persian culture and create an environment where both our
nation as a whole and the Persian community are enabled to learn from
this rich, ancient culture."

Three endowed professorships also will be established: the Maseeh Chair
in Persian Studies and Culture in the School of Humanities, which will
be filled by a director for the Jordan Center; the Howard Baskerville
Professor in the School of Humanities, named after another early
missionary key to Iran's educational development; and the Maseeh
Professor in Persian Performing Arts in the Claire Trevor School of the

"We are proud to partner with Dr. Maseeh in establishing this
distinctive center," said UCI Chancellor Ralph J. Cicerone. "UCI is
situated in a region with one of the largest Persian communities outside
of Iran, making it a natural place for a center that celebrates this
historically and culturally significant region."

The Jordan Center will provide research grants; sponsor symposia,
lectures and workshops; and host public events. The School of Humanities
will administer the center with involvement from faculty and staff from
many disciplines across campus. UCI will begin offering classes in
Persian studies and language in fall 2005. As part of its community
outreach, the center will offer an annual Persian cultural expression
prize to authors and performers from around the world. The center will
be located in the campus's Berkeley Place building until approximately
2010, when it will move to its permanent home in a new humanities

The Iranian-born Maseeh is a worldwide expert in
micro-electro-mechanical systems, or MEMS. After earning a doctorate in
engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Maseeh founded
IntelliSense in 1991. It was the first company of its kind for the
custom design, development and manufacturing of next generation MEMS
devices -- tiny, computer-controlled chips used in products ranging from
cardiac pacemakers to aircraft landing gear. After IntelliSense was
acquired in 2000, Maseeh established the Massiah Foundation, whose
mission is to make significant improvements in education, health, arts,
literature and science.

Maseeh considers himself a "venture philanthropist," applying business
concepts to his philanthropy. He considers his gifts as investments and
looks for causes with clear objectives and broad markets. Maseeh serves
as a UCI Foundation trustee and sits on engineering advisory boards at
UCI's Henry Samueli School of Engineering, the University of Southern
California and Portland State University. He has endowed several chairs
in various engineering disciplines at MIT and PSU. He is chairman of the
Children's Hospital of Orange County Foundation and serves on a number
of community boards, including the Boys and Girls Club of Boston.

The Jordan Center will be the first in the UC system dedicated to
examining Persian culture, history and arts that is not based in a
department of Near East or Middle East studies. According to Karen
Lawrence, humanities dean, this means the center will be uniquely
positioned to take a wide and interdisciplinary approach to Persian
studies. "Persian culture has had a profound influence from the
Mediterranean to India to Central Asia, but too often it's viewed
narrowly as confined to the borders of one region," she said. "This
center will allow us to study Persian culture in a truly transnational
context. Dr. Maseeh's generous gift also will enable us to recruit two
top humanities scholars in Persian studies to build on existing faculty

Arts dean Nohema Fernandez added, "The endowed professorship in Persian
performing arts will bring to UCI the rich cultural tradition of Persian
music and culture, creating a unique program for both our students and
the community."

A dozen Persian scholars from around the nation will gather at UCI next
month for a workshop with humanities faculty to assess the current state
of Persian studies and exchange ideas of how the center can best advance
scholarship in this field. An event celebrating the establishment of the
center also is planned for May.

For more information about the Massiah Foundation, contact Robert
Magnuson at (949) 278-7515 or by e-mail at rgm@magnusonandcompany.com

About the University of California, Irvine: Celebrating 40 years of
innovation, the University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public
university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service.
Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of
California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate
students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in
dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3
billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

Lori Brandt
(949) 824-5484

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