NVI staff present and past, board, former interns, and supporters gathered at the investiture of Mohammed Abu-Nimer to the Abdul Aziz Said Endowed Chair of Peace and Conflict Resolution in the School of International Service at the American University on September 28th. Abdul Aziz Said was a founder and long standing board member of NVI, and Mohammed Abu-Nimer is a current board member. Present were former NVI staff, Betty Sitka, Karim Crow, Asna Husin, NVI Director Michael Beer, NVI partner Bassam Ishak and his son Said, former intern Majid Abu-Nimer, NVI counsel Bill Espinosa, NVI founder, Mubarak Awad and spouse Nancy Nye, and many NVI supporters including Lester Kurtz, Bobby Herman, Barbara Wien, the El-Hibri family, Elena Turner, & Saji Prelis.
Below, please see a letter from the President of American University announcing that NVI Board member, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, will serve as the inaugural Abdul Aziz Said Chair in International Peace and Conflict Resolution.
Dear AU Community,
Establishing faculty chairs not only furthers the scholarly impact of our expert faculty, but also supports changemaking work in our community and around the world. They are a key priority of the Change Can’t Wait campaign to shape AU’s future. In rare instances, a chair can symbolize both a legacy that means so much to our history as an institution and a call to action for our future.
Today, I am announcing a new chair in the School of International Service (SIS) that achieves this unique distinction. The Abdul Aziz Said Chair in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, named in memory of one of AU’s cherished scholar-teachers and made possible through the philanthropic support of our dedicated community, will advance the vital SIS charge of “waging peace.”
A three-time American University alumnus (SIS/BS ’54, MA ’55, PhD ’57) and member of the SIS faculty for almost 60 years, Professor Said was a mentor to countless students, a friend to generations of AU faculty and staff, and a pioneer in his field. Over his decades of scholarship, Professor Said was sought out by peace activists, policymakers, and thought leaders for his expertise. Diplomats and international delegates often stopped by his campus office for advice on addressing issues of violence, extremism, peace negotiation deadlocks, and conflicts in the Middle East. His innovative thinking and inclusion of disparate perspectives in his scholarship—including spirituality and religion, the promotion of human dignity, human rights and human development, and the social inequity and injustice that fueled conflict among groups and nations—forever shaped the field of international affairs.
As a lifetime champion of peace and conflict resolution, Professor Said modeled the ideals of his scholarship in his own life. For instance, in the 1950s, when Jewish students were excluded from already established organizations on campus, Professor Said stepped forward to help create the AU chapter of the Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity. Serving as faculty advisor for decades, he is fondly remembered by the Phi Epsilon Pi brothers for helping to foster their enduring friendships.
Established in the memory of this true AU changemaker, the endowed Said Chair was made possible through the generosity of numerous alumni, Phi Epsilon Pi brothers, friends, and family and matched by the university in its commitment to honor Professor Said and the important work of the chair. This collective fundraising effort was led by his wife, Elena Turner, SIS/BA ’82, who was instrumental in working with Dean Shannon Hader and the SIS community. The philanthropic investment of our community to honor Professor Said reflects the incomparable impact his work, guidance, mentorship, and empathy made on the lives of students, faculty, and practitioners worldwide.
Professor Mohammed Abu-Nimer will serve as the inaugural Abdul Aziz Said Chair in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. Professor Abu-Nimer is a prolific scholar with more than 35 years of teaching, including 22 years alongside Professor Said. He currently serves in the SIS International Peace and Conflict Resolution program. His work includes extensive research and practice in peacebuilding in divided societies; nonviolence, dialogue, and religion; the application of conflict resolution models in Muslim communities; Palestinian-Jewish relations in Israel, faith-based peacebuilding, and impact evaluation of peacebuilding interventions.
He received the PEACE Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Studies Association and the International Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust, both earlier this year. He is the president and founder of the Salam Institute for Peace and Justice; served several years as a senior advisor of KAICIID Dialogue Centre, an international organization specializing in interreligious and intercultural dialogue; and was director of the Peacebuilding and Development Institute in SIS for 13 years.
Professor Abu-Nimer will carry Professor Said’s legacy to a new generation of scholars and continue to expand SIS’s reputation for “waging peace.” Supporting our faculty scholarship is a cornerstone of our strategy and the Change Can’t Wait campaign. It provides opportunities for our community to learn with foremost experts and to provide actionable research and knowledge that directly impacts the greatest challenges of our time.
Please join me in congratulating Professor Abu-Nimer and thanking the community for supporting his scholarship and honoring the legacy of Professor Said.
Sylvia M. Burwell
President, American University
2023 Distinguished Scholar Award goes to...
Mohammed serves on NVI's Board of Directors and has just been chosen as the recipient of the 2023 Distinguished Scholar Award of the Peace Studies Section of the International Studies Associations. The award is given each year to a scholar who has a substantial record of research, practice and/or publishing in the field of peace and conflict studies. The selection committee was deeply impressed by the breadth and quality of his work on interreligious conflict resolution and faith-based peacebuilding, interfaith dialogues, and on incorporating peace and forgiveness into pedagogy in the Muslim world, his expertise in conducting interfaith dialogue workshops and trainings across the world, as well as his institution - and organization - building work. Congratulations on your selection!
At the upcoming 2023 International Studies Association conference which will take place in Montreal, Canada (March 15th – March 18th ) Mohammed was invited to the Distinguished Scholar Awards Roundtable that will celebrate his many contributions to the field.
Congratulations and thank you for all you do Mohammed.
NVI is proud to be associated with your visionary leadership for a better world.