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With a $1,000,000 endowment provided by the AAEF, a Chair of Arab Studies was established at Rice University, one of the most selective and distinguished private institutions of higher learning in the United States. Since August 1997, Dr. Ussama Makdisi, a leading expert on modern Arab history, has held this chair.

Dr. Makdisi received his bachelors' degree from Wesleyan University in 1990, and his doctoral degree from Princeton University in 1997. Dr. Makdisi has given lectures on various topics including "The Case of Lebanon – the Question of Muslim-Christian Dialogue," "Arab American Relations – 1990 to 2002," and "Violence and Reconciliation." He is also the author of various books and publications on issues pertaining to the Modern Middle East and Ottoman History.

In April 2009, Dr. Ussama Makdisi was named Carnegie Scholar for his contributions to enriching the country's discourse on Islam. More on that at Rice University News and Media Relations.