Dear President DeGioia,
We are a group of Georgetown University alumni and students who are deeply concerned by the university’s recent decision to deny tenure to Dr. Samer Shehata, Assistant Professor of Arab Politics at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS) in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS). This decision will result in the loss of an important scholar who has been associated with CCAS and SFS for more than a decade. We urgently ask you and your office, to review Dr.Shehata’s impeccable record of service, scholarship and teaching as well as strongly urge you and the university leadership to reconsider his case.
Dr. Shehata is an invaluable member of the Georgetown community. He is among the few CCAS faculty members whose scholarship and teaching focuses on the contemporary Arab world and politics, a distinct aim of the Center and a primary factor used to distinguish it from other Middle East Studies programs across the country. His scholarship and teaching are also highly relevant to the goals of the School of Foreign Service which aims to educate students to a level of expertise that they can translate to policy work. The majority of students pursuing a Master of Arts in Arab Studies choose to focus on politics and are interested in public policy. Dr. Shehata has a reputation among them as an engaging lecturer who offers some of the best courses on politics and policy toward the region. At a time when contemporary Arab affairs and politics have captured the attention of the world in light of the revolutionary wave of uprisings and conflicts in the Arab states, it is unfathomable that Georgetown would let one of its top specialists on this subject leave. Dr. Shehata is widely recognized as one of the leading specialists on Arab politics and Islamist movements, which are increasingly important from both an academic and policy perspective. Egypt and particularly the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood have never been more important for regional politics or U.S. foreign policy and Dr. Shehata is one of the leading experts on Egyptian politics in the United States today. He has also contributed to the national debate about these issues, bringing positive visibility to CCAS, SFS, and Georgetown University.
In addition to outstanding scholarship and excellent teaching, Dr. Shehata has provided truly exceptional service to the University. Among his many service duties to CCAS and the University, Dr. Shehata established the Qatar Arabic Scholarship Program and the Qatar Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program. These programs have brought significant external resources to the University and have provided educational opportunities for dozens of Georgetown students.
Dr. Shehata is also invaluable to those of us who have left the Georgetown community to establish ourselves elsewhere as policy makers, representatives of non-governmental organizations, political leaders, academics, activists, and journalists among other occupations. His scholarship and expertise is considered an important resource for many of us whose work connects us to the Arab region and by default we are inevitably connected with our alma mater. In the absence of Dr. Shehata among others who recently left the Center, we are concerned its relevance will decline.
Finally, we understand that all senior faculty at CCAS and the Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (including several past presidents of the Middle East Studies Association), and the majority of SFS faculty, fully support Dr. Shehata’s tenure.
Thank you for your kind attention to this matter. We, the undersigned group of alumni and students, look forward to hearing from you and hopefully finding a way to resolve this important and timely issue.