Recently many ZAGBA family members had the opportunity to hear Dr. Yuhan Vevaina give a talk on the Zoroastrian religion at the Bedford town hall. His talk was very well received and was very informative. Dr. Yuhan Vevaina along with Dinyar Patel, who also presented on the same day, are two of the very few people who are studying and teaching Zoroastrianism on a professional level in academia.
ZAGBA has received a request from FEZANA to help financially support a faculty position at Stanford University’s Religion department for Dr. Yuhan Vevaina. The below email provides more information on how a group of Zoroastrians created a partnership with Stanford University to promote Zoroastrian studies. It also provides information on how this faculty position will be funded. FEZANA is making a strong financial commitment to make this faculty position materialize, and has asked other FEZANA member associations to help. The ZAGBA board has decided to commit a sum of $500/- per year for the next three years for this cause. We hope that there may be individual ZAGBA members who may wish to commit additional financial resources to make this faculty position possible. To those who are interested in making a donation, you can either contact Farrokh Billimoria directly (address below) or contact ZAGBA and we will help coordinate.
What follows below is the complete text of the email from Lovji Cama, Chairman of the FEZANA Education, Scholarship and Conference Committee to ZAGBA. We also have Yuhan Vevaina’s CV which ZAGBA would be willing to share with interested individuals.
I would like to update you on the status of Zoroastrian Studies at Stanford University. Since 2005 a group of Zoroastrians (Farrokh Billimoria, Jamshid Varza, Erach Tarapore, Mehrbourzin Soroushian and Lovji Cama) created a partnership with Stanford University to initiate Zoroastrian Studies at Stanford. This led to a regular lecture series on Zoroastrianism by world scholars on Zoroastrianism at Stanford averaging one lecture each quarter. This was followed by an undergraduate course on Zoroastrianism given by Prof. Jenny Rose, as a visiting professor for the last three years (2007-2009). The cost of the program was split between Stanford University and the Zoroastrian community. Contributions were received from private donations made by interested parties, including FEZANA.
In 2008 because of a re-organization at Stanford regarding their South Asian Studies (under which the Zoroastrian Studies program was organized) Stanford informed us that they would not accept any more contributions towards Zoroastrian Studies until their overall South Asian Studies strategy was figured out. Because of the funds already in the program, we were able to continue Zoroastrian Studies at Stanford up to 2009.
Farrokh Billimoria of Redwood City California has been working continuously behind the scene to enable us to continue funding Zoroastrian Studies. The acting head of Religious Studies at Stanford is a big supporter of Zoroastrian Studies and with his help Farrokh was able to re-start the program of lecture series and undergraduate course.
One of the recent lectures was by Yuhan Vevaina. Stanford became interested in Yuhan as a possible faculty member and interviewed him and really wants to hire Yuhan Vevaina as a full time faculty member in their Religion Department. This is a fantastic opportunity to have a permanent Zoroastrian presence in the Religion Department at Stanford. As you can see from the attached CV, Yuhan has an impressive set of accomplishments and training for a young person, which is the reason for Stanford’s interest in him.
Yuhan’s commitment at Harvard ends in Jan 2010 and he is available starting January of 2011. Stanford likes to appoint faculty for a minimum of 2 full academic years (i.e. Sept to Aug). This requires funding from January 2011 to August 2013
Most of the funding is in hand but we are short $60,000 (i.e. $20,000per year over the next 3 years). FEZANA has pledged $5000 per year for the next 3 years. We need to generate $15000 a year for another 3 years.
This faculty position will only materialize if the Zoroastrian community will share in the cost of hiring him. The yearly cost is $60,000 salary. Another $20,000 in benefits is being taken care of by the University.
After three years it is up to Yuhan and Stanford University to figure out a way to continue on without the community involvement.
At the last AGM of FEZANA during discussions of this opportunity, it was pointed out that one way to overcome the deficit of $20,000/yr would be for individual associations to pitch in and make a commitment of about $1000/yr for the next three years (depending on the finances, size and interest of each association). In fact a tentative commitment by some of the associations was made at the AGM.
I am requesting your association to seriously consider this opportunity provided to our community and contribute to this cause. Please let me know soon, as the person who is driving this inside Stanford will be going on a sabbatical in June and it is important to agree on this before he leaves.
If your association decides to contribute, and I hope you will at this critical juncture for the program please send a check made out to Stanford University (memo saying “For Zoroastrian Studies”) and mail it to Farrokh Billimoria at the address below. Farrokh will hand deliver it to ensure that they do not get deposited in the General University Funds. Also let me know by email so that I can keep track of your contributions.
The two attachments will give you an idea as to what has been accomplished by the Zoroastrian Studies program since 2005.
If you have any questions, please let me know,
With kind regards,
Education, Scholarship and Conference Committee
10 Woodleaf Avenue
Redwood City, CA 94061